Recharge Centers

Certain academic departments at Princeton provide goods and services to other departments, such as computing facilities, clean rooms, machine shops, or special-purpose equipment. If your department intends to charge others for goods or services, you should contact the Costing team in the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis to discuss whether opening a recharge center (RC) would be appropriate. RC rates must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Costing team in the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis, and must conform to both University and federal policies.

For additional details, please see our departmental recharge center policy.

Roles and Responsibilities

Management and oversight of recharge center costing compliance is a shared responsibility between the academic departments and central offices.

  • Academic Departments are responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of their recharge centers, estimating usage and costs, billing for actual usage, and adhering to financial and regulatory compliance requirements. 

  • The Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis (PB&A) in the Office of Finance and Treasury is responsible for reviewing and/or assisting with rate development, providing costing strategies and guidance, making allowability determinations, monitoring for compliance, and facilitating interactions with other F&T areas for matters concerning budget, equipment depreciation, opening or closing recharge centers in the financial system, and accounting.

Accounting for Subsidies

Recharge centers are subsidized in a variety of ways, offsetting the aggregate costs of the recharge center, providing subsidies to discrete user groups, and funding specialized equipment for use in the recharge centers. PB&A provides individual consultation to assist academic departments with methods to properly account for the various subsidies made to recharge centers.

Rate Development

PB&A works with individual academic departments to prepare their annual cost analysis using University templates designed to project costs and usage in order to perform a break-even cost analysis. The cost analysis also allows the academic departments to quantify any projected subsidies. Recharge centers may not charge amounts greater than the break-even rates. PB&A is available to provide strategies and guidance for proper rate setting.  

Costing Compliance

The federal Office of Management and Budget provides costing requirements for recharge centers in OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200).  This guidance includes some of the following concepts:

  • Schedule of Rates: Each recharge center must establish a schedule of rates that are not more than the calculated cost of each service and consistently charged to all users regardless of funding sources used to pay for the services.

  • Non-Discrimination between Federal and University Activities: Rates may not create inequities between federal funds and other funding sources. Rates must not recover more than the cost of the service.

  • Aggregate Costs: Recharge centers may only recover the aggregate costs of the recharge center.

  • Charge based on Actual Usage: Recharge centers may only charge for actual usage of the facility for services rendered.

  • Cost Analysis: Recharge centers are required to adjust their rates at least biennially and account for any over or under recoveries. University policy expands on this topic.

  • Allowability: Recharge centers must also follow federal cost principles for allowability, reasonableness, allocability, and consistent treatment of costs.  

PB&A is also available to assist with the following:

  • Making allowability determinations for costs incurred in a recharge center

  • Accounting for equipment used in a recharge center

  • Establishing a recharge center or closing a recharge center

  • Evaluating annual financial performance

  • Accounting for over or under recoveries