Research IT changes to the FEC tool

This guidance note describes recent changes to the on-line FEC tool (www.bristol.ac.uk/fec/) that allow IT staff to be associated with research grant applications and, on award, how this resource can be accessed by the grant holder with the appropriate recovery of funds from the grant.

This guidance is also available as a pdf.

Detailed information is available on IT costs in grant applications covering specialist IT resource that you will normally need to bid for and standard IT resource that you do not normally need to bid for.


Proposal stage within FEC

1. Project checklist

An ‘Enhanced IT support section’ has been added that includes the existing Research Data Storage Facility and High Performance Computing tick boxes and a new item “Does your project require Specialist IT resource?” with a link to the Research IT costs web page. This addition is primarily to allow tracking of relevant proposals.

2. Staff & student costs

This is the key change and will allow finance to identify IT staffing and recover appropriate funding. See below on implications of this recovery for PI.

  1. Under the Add staff table both “To add an existing member of the university's staff to this proposal” and “To add a new post that will be funded by this proposal” now offer new IT options.
  2. Once either has been selected, a salary scale page appears (unchanged) followed by a page requesting information on superannuation, name, progression and role.
  3. Under “What role will this person play in the proposal?”, options now exist for “IT Specialist (DI - Direct)” and “IT Specialist (DA - Pooled)”. In most cases DA will be the most appropriate; see below for guidance on the use of directly allocated (DA) and directly incurred (DI) categories.
  4. PIs should liaise with Research IT and faculty finance on the appropriate level of staffing (FTE and duration) for the anticipated task, as well as salary, superannuation etc. for unnamed staff.
  5. Ideally IT Specialist time should be entered as a percentage in multiples of 5%.

Note that these IT Specialist options are available whether the Specialist IT box was ticked under 1. or not. These new roles for project staff will allow, on award, faculty finance to identify the grant and trigger a discussion on resource provision.


Award stage

  1. Schools that have accumulated IT support through the above mechanism should discuss with Research IT and finance how best this resource is to be used. In some cases, it may be appropriate to allocate a specific member of staff, in others (where a range of skills are required) more than one member of IT staff may be involved.
  2. If sufficient grants are won, a member or members of zonal IT staff will be allocated to the school. The individuals will remain IT staff and the level of the allocation is likely to vary between 20 and 80% (corresponding roughly to the number of days in a week but with an upper limit to ensure linkage to zonal support team).
  3. Staff member(s) to be based close to research groups during allocated days.
  4. Research IT resource allocation will be reviewed annual by finance, Research IT and the host school.

Extract from Finance advice on Directly Allocated and Directly Incurred Costs

Directly Allocated Costs

This implies the recovery of costs for members of staff already funded from University core budgets (i.e. establishment posts) whether within the Faculty or Support Divisions. When the project is funded, DA costs contribute to the indirect income generated (after meeting all direct costs). There is a contractual (funder and PI) expectation that an appropriate proportion of IT staff time will be directly assigned to the project to enable its delivery.

Directly Incurred Costs

DI costs are for staff recruited specifically for the project and whose employment costs are charged directly to the project. Usually there is a requirement for significant on-going specialist resource.

Current Policy (as circulated 2013)

Policy on IT staffing on grant applications

  • 0-60% FTE staff should be DA
  • 61% - 80% FTE staff should be considered on a case by case basis
  • 81% to 100% FTE staff should be DI.

This is intended as a general guide; as well as considering time & costs, skill sets should be considered.


Appendix: screenshots of new FEC options

Checklist page with enhanced IT options

FEC tool checklist

New post page with IT specialist options

FEC tool new post