Chargeback methods used at different sequence analysis sites

The request for information was this:

Don Gilbert (Indiana)
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 18:34:54 -0500
From: (Don Gilbert)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Facility chargeback method?  (Urgent, sorry)

Hi David,

I hope your funding needs work out.  At IU the funding for biology
computing if quite variable.  There are about 50 faculty total
here (~400 students, staff, etc), but maybe about 25 faculty
plus a host of students use molecular biology software.  I also
offer faculty at remote IU campuses access to GCG software.
The only explicit continuing charge to users now is a $100/yr
fee that goes for GCG software maintenance, which is split among
about 35 such users.  For hardware, general use software, and
maintenance, I have to rely on the general department funds
and occasional special funds from individual researchers or
targetted groups (molecular biology group).  The funding is very
sporadic.  Most of the hardware here, including a few $20K
unix computers and on $60K unix computer were purchased on special
university-wide technology improvement funds.  Many smaller public-use
hardware items have been purchased by individual faculty w/ an
excess of grant funds at year end.   However I have no current
fund for commercial software, and have been trying for a year to
get the dept. to come up w/ about $5,000 for that, as well as hardware
improvement funds.  I'm not very good at fund raising, at it
is an area that I hope that I don't have to start spending more
time on; it already sucks up too much time for too little gain.

Also, when some faculty or group identifies a special need for
hardware or software, the interested parties with funds will talk
it over and ask for contributions to share the cost for all
those who will use the item most.  We have purchased $3,000 mollec.
modelling software that way; dye sub color printer; CDROM mastering
drive; etc.

-- Don
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Peter Rice (Sanger Centre)
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 09:02:19 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Re: Facility chargeback method?  (Urgent, sorry)

Hi David,

Sorry, but yes : "we are supported out of overhead, no specific
user charges"

and the same story when I was at EMBL.


					Peter Rice
Peter Rice                | Informatics Division, The Sanger Centre,
E-mail:  | Wellcome Trust Genome Campus,
Tel: (44) 1223 494967     | Hinxton, Cambridge, CB10 1SA, England
Fax: (44) 1223 494919     | URL:
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Ross Smith (N.Y.U. School of Medicine)
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 1997 09:45:46 -0500 (EST)
From: smithp01@MCRCR6.MED.NYU.EDU
Subject: Re: Facility chargeback method?  (Urgent, sorry)

On Wed, 4 Jun 1997 wrote:

We charge a flat fee of $500 per faculty-member group per year.  This
includes accounts for all members of the group (students/techs/postdocs) 
plus "unlimited" disk and CPU usage.  Actually, disk is limted by quotas,
and people have to ask to increase. but provided there is a scientific
reason for the increase, it is granted immediately. 

I am very much against any hourly connect fees/CPU charges.  This is 1960s
thinking (IMHO) and nolonger reflects how people think about computer use
any more, or a realistic view of the scarce resource.  In our view, the
Alphas should be available to be used as much or as little as you like,
just the way you'd use your desktop PC or Mac: the cost decision is, Am I
going to get my money's worth this year?  If yes, then I get an account. 
The flat fee is a bit inequitable: big groups get more for their $500 than
small ones.  Just the same, the fee is low enough that most faculty see it
as a good deal, even if there is just them.  We have a "grant" program for
faculty with absolutely no other support which they can apply to with the
Dept chair support. 

The money we collect (once a year) doesn't cover salarys.  We have a
full-time faculty-level molecular biology consultant who is available to
help people with the solution to their problems that is paid fro by the
school.  We also have part-time programmers who help out with various
stuff, as needed.

We have a web page with most of our info on it:

Let me know if we can help with more info...

+------------ 8F EF 51 4E 4F 23 22 AF  6A 41 D6 C0 AE 31 B1 82 ------------+
|Ross Smith, Research Computing Resource, N.Y.U. School of Medicine, NYU-MC|
|E-Mail:  SMITHP01@MED.NYU.EDU   Phone:  (212)263-5356:  FAX: (212)263-8139|
+-------------  -------------+
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Bill Pearson (Virginia)
Subject: Re: facility charges
References: <5n1h26$>
From: "William R. Pearson" 
Date: 08 Jun 1997 21:57:02 -0400
In-Reply-To:'s message of 3 Jun 1997 16:34:14 GMT
Lines: 13
X-Mailer: Gnus v5.3/Emacs 19.34

We don't charge for computing and our sequence analysis guru (not me!)
does not charge for his time.  We encourage people to take classes on
GCG to reduce the one-on-one demand.

Our experience has been that charging for computing drives people to
purchase their own machines, which are typically require considerably
more support per user than centrally administered machines.

Bill Pearson
Information Technology and Communication/Academic Computing Health Sciences

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Hugh Salter (Oxford)
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 11:58:20 +0100
From: Hugh Salter 
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: facility charge
In-Reply-To: <5n1h26$>
Organization: Oxford University Molecular Biology Data Centre

We bill by user internally; each users department is billed about 100 USD
per year and user (we have about 700 users)for non-staff costs; this lands
up as a real bill on the PIs desk, and bopy do they whine. Staff costs are
partially covered centrally and partially via departmental-level
allocations which the PIs don't see; this is about to change to be totally
covered centrally and is about the same as the non-staff costs. So users
think that they are being charged a flat rate of 100 USD/yr, but in fact
it is twice that.  External users (who don't get support in person etc)
pay the 100USD plus the GCG external charge.  But we don't have very many. 

Hope this helps.


Dr Hugh Salter                Oxford University Molecular Biology Data Centre             Tel: (01865) 2-75507  or  0966-262447
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T. Miller (Dupont)
Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 09:05:10 -0400
From: (T Miller)
Subject: Re: facility charges
References: <5n1h26$>

Hello.  If I had to do this, I'd go with historical usage of the
package(s) and divide
the cost up between departments.  If GCG wants their money upfront, then I can't
see why you couldn't do the same.  At least this way, your real costs would be
covered.  Regards, Tom Miller, Dupont's GCG contract administrator.

Opinions are my own and not of my employer.
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Richard Friedman (Columbia)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 09:54:57 -0400
From: Richard Friedman 
Subject: Re: facility charges

Dear David,
Our charges (approximately) are

$1.50/hr connect time
$ 0.0003/sec cpu time
$0.03 kilobyte/storage/month
$25.00/hour) one client at a time is my rule, and Idon't do 
divorce business) consulting

Best wishes,
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Jim Winkle (Wisconsin)
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 10:58:35 -0500
Message-Id: <>
From: (Jim Winkle)
Subject: Re: facility charges
X-VMS-To: IN%""

It's well after two days, but if you still need info, I have rates posted
on . This is a 100% cost-recovery system; 
there are no subsidies.

Jim Winkle, GCAD VMS System Manager, UW-Madison, DoIT. Contact info in brief:

Other: 262-9507 

where GCAD=Genetics Computing At DoIT, DoIT=Division of Information Technology

Jim Winkle, GCAD VMS System Manager, UW-Madison, DoIT. Contact info in brief:

Other: 262-9507 

where GCAD=Genetics Computing At DoIT, DoIT=Division of Information Technology
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Andrew T. Lloyd (INCBI)
Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 17:52:20 +0000
From: (Andrew T. Lloyd)
Subject: Re: facility charges
References: <5n1h26$>
Organization: INCBI, TCD, D2, Ireland.

Hi David,
                    1 IEP  = 1.5 USD

Here at INCBI we charge 500.00 IR pounds a year per research group
per year.  This raises about 0.4 of our recurrent (non-capital)
costs.  The rest is raised in a haphazard way by subvention from
a) the Irish Government's Industry program (for 3 years until
they realised that there was no Irish industry that would use
our services) b) currently from a quango of the academic librarians
of Ireland.  Even as the sole employee, I have very little 
security of tenure here but perhaps 300 users.  I am sure
you would rely on a response from a US University, but I have
two things for you to take on board.

1) A condition for the change of white knight from Central Govt
to the Librarians was that we should double our user-sub from
250.00 to 500 pa.  This had the effect of just about halving
the subscribers.

2) I feel quite strongly that charges per use are bad for
bioinformatics (encourage a blast search with defaults only
rather than with several subst matrices, etc.); charges per
user are bad for security; flat fees a manifestly unfair but
they are easy to administer.

You will be aware of EMBnet.  Home pages there shd give you 
a wide diversity of charging schemes.

Andrew T. Lloyd  Irish National Centre for BioInformatics  INCBI         
Tel: (+353)-1-608-1969    EMBnet Ireland    Fax: (+353)-679-8558
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Tim Littlejohn (ANGIS)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 09:02:29 +1000 (EST)
From: Tim Littlejohn 
Subject: Re: facility charges


Your message only just arrived, strangely (a week late) so it looks like I
won't be able to help.  ANGIS is a national facility that charges for
access (we are also an EMBnet Node, so other EMBnet nodes may be able to
help). Bacisally we charge a flat fee per year's use depending on the
number of groups and the industry sector they come from (unbiversity,
commercial, government etc).

Did you get many replies?  I'd be interested in hearing what other groups
are doing.


Tim Littlejohn

|   ANGIS- The Australian National Genomic Information Service           |
|      email:            |
|     Phone Toll Free: 1 800 728 028     FAX: 61-2-9351 5694             |

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Stuart Brown (N.Y.U Medical Center)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 10:28:36 -0500
From: browns02@MCRCR6.MED.NYU.EDU (Stuart M. Brown)
Subject: Re: facility charges
Organization: NYU-MC Research Computing Resource
References: <5n1h26$>

We charge $500/year per group for GCG, e-mail, and 5 MB of disk space
per user.  We also provide a site license for Sequencher, MacVector,
and GeneWorks. We define a group as any faculty member and his/her associated
students, technicians, postdocs, etc.  So faculty with large lab groups
get a better deal than those with small groups.  

This money, while not insignificant in our budget, doesn't come close
to paying our expenses. Computer hardware is mostly paid from an NSF grant,
staff salary comes largely from departmental and Dean's office teaching funds.

Stuart M. Brown, Molecular Biology Consultant 
NYU-MC Research Computing Resource, Dept. of Cell Biology
550 First Ave, New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212)263-7689  FAX: (212)263-8139
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Susan Jean Johns (WSU)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 11:22:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: Susan Jean Johns 
cc: "Steve M. Thompson" 
Subject: VADMS charges

Dear David Mathog,

	This is Susan Johns of the VADMS Center at Washington State
University. The VADMS Center is involved in providing computing resouces
for our campus in the field of molecular biology for both instructional
and research purposes. While we are not a total cost recovery unit, we do
get some support from our users through a subscription system. There are
no machine use charges as of yet, only subscription charges to allow 
usage of the system. We provide sequence analysis support (GCG, EGCG,
PHYLIP and similare software to users as well as limited molecular
modelling tools.

	Subscription costs are divided up by the amount of usage as given
user expects to put on the system. There are three levels: light, moderate
and heavy ($350/year, $550/year and $750/year). The more help, consulting 
time or cycles you expect to use the higher the level a user should sign
up for.  Logs are kept and reviewed and recommendations made for the next
years renewal level based on the current year's activity.

	Our system was designed to bring in support for about half of one
of our two current staff positions. This is usually between 20 and 24 K 
per year. We lose 6% of those funds to an adminstrative surcharge.

	Between $1,000 and $1,500 is brought in each year as the result of
fees charged for conducting instructional sessions for various courses
that have biocomputing modules in them.

					Good luck,

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David Womble (Wayne State)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 15:00:38 -0400
From: (David Womble)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: facility charges
X-Newsreader: TIN [UNIX 1.3 950824BETA PL0]
Content-Type: text

David:  Here in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics at 
Wayne State University, the CMMG makes the GCG package available to
all WSU researchers who want access free of charge.  That may not
be the case forever, though.  I would be interested in the results
of your survey.


David D. Womble                       Phone:  313-577-2374
Center for Molecular Medicine and     Fax:    313-577-6200
Genetics, Wayne State University      E-mail:
5047 Gullen Mall, Detroit, MI 48202
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Thomas Tritton (Vermont)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 16:25:18 +0000
From: Thomas Tritton 
Subject: Re: facility charges

At the University of Vermont we pay the GCG costs centrally and do not 
charge users. There are still some good deals around...