CE: How to Obtain Engineering Services

Engineering Services Costs:

The costs of engineering services are calculated by charging an hourly rate for the actual time staff spend working on a project. For Cost Center technical staff who are SAO Trust Fund employees, the rate consists of the employee's hourly salary, multiplied by the relevant personal leave rate, fringe benefits rate, and engineering overhead rate in effect at the time of the charge. Occasionally, CE supplements its staff with technical services contractors. The rate for contractors' time would include the hourly rate paid to their employing agency plus the CE overhead rate.

Like other SAO overhead rates, the engineering burden rate is set annually. It is calculated as a ratio of the estimated annual operating costs of the department to the value of the CfA scientific divisions' projected requirements for engineering services. Operating costs include: rent, communications, management and support staff salaries, supplies, maintenance of engineering labs and computer systems, recruitment and relocation expenses, tuition reimbursement, etc.; plus CE's assessed share of the operating expenses of certain SAO overhead departments (i.e Human Resources, Financial Management, and the Computation Facility). The engineering burden rate, and its component base and expenses, are subject to the same monitoring, audit, and final approval by the Office of Naval Research as are the other SAO overhead rates. For Fiscal Year 2007, ONR has approved the following rates:

                   Personal Leave Rate: 	              22.50%
                   Fringe Benefits Rate: 	              26.50%
                   Fringe Benefits Rate  	
                   (Intermittent and < 90 Day appointments):   8.50%
                   Engineering Overhead Rate: 	              27.00%
                   General and Administrative Rate: 	      11.20%

Project Cost Accounting:

Each ASR is assigned a unique job number and, if applicable, assoicated task numbers. Central Engineering staff receive weekly Cost Center timecards that contain the hours budgeted against the ASR for each project to which they are assigned. They record their actual productive hours against the appropriate ASR and task number, as well as any non-productive or non-billable time that occurred during that week. Timecard data is entered into CE's labor assignment/project cost tracking system, generating funds obligation and project billing information that is electronically forwarded to the Financial Management Department for posting to the General Ledger. The software also translates project fund numbers, non-billable tasks, and non-productive charges into the appropriate Cost Center, Leave Pool, SAO Overhead, or other required fund number, and automatically generates bi-weekly Smithsonian Time and Attendance Reports (TAR's).

Project cost-to-complete reports are distributed monthly to designated project management. The reports detail actual charges in hours and dollars as well as projections of labor requirements for the balance of the current SAO Fiscal Year. Subject to the restrictions of the Smithsonian Institution's accounting system, CE can budget and charge labor to project tasks down to level four of a Work Breakdown Structure for those projects upon which such detailed reporting is contractually imposed; or for scientists, program managers, or administrators who prefer to have greater visibility into the costs of specific project tasks.

Additional specialized reports, such as of monthly and cumulative labor variances, or other ad hoc requirements, are available upon request.


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