CAUBO’s role at the national level is to proactively articulate, capture and disseminate the national perspective on issues where influence, information, or advocacy will deliver value to members and to the sector.

In order to do this, some of the advocacy related activities that CAUBO undertakes include:

  • Monitor administrative trends across the country; synthesize and disseminate information on key issues of national relevance.
  • Proactively identify issues where CAUBO can and should effectively advocate and define its role, whether it be to lead, influence or support.
  • Develop a position of influence with institutional and external stakeholders.

Where possible, CAUBO strives to coordinate its advocacy efforts in order to support those of Universities Canada.

CAUBO’s preferred approach to advocacy is through the development of fact-based research reports. In this capacity, the following reports were developed:

Deferred Maintenance at Canadian Universities: An Update (2014)

Representatives from CAUBO and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met with Finance Canada in June to voice concerns regarding changes to the claim periods for GST Public Service Body Rebates that were announced in 2014. In total, close to 50 letters of support were sent to Finance Canada, demonstrating that CAUBO had strong support from its members on this issue. CAUBO and FCM representatives clearly illustrated the administrative impact of this change for universities and municipalities, as well as potential implementation and auditing challenges for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). While initial reactions were positive, no formal response has been received from Finance Canada or CRA to our request to modify the regulations. We continue to monitor the situation on members’ behalf.

This study updates and refines available national estimates of deferred maintenance at Canadian universities, last reviewed at this level by CAUBO in 2000.

Deferred maintenance and supporting information was solicited from CAUBO member institutions; responses were received from 51 institutions, which together represent about 77% (by FTE student) of the Canadian university system. The responses provide a reasonable sample from all regions, with somewhat greater representation in Ontario and the West.

The report found that the estimated total deferred maintenance for the participating universities is $8.4 billion, or $42/GSF (gross square foot). This is more than double the amount reported in 2000, an increase that can be attributed to a number of factors. The study describes targets for annual stewardship based on both a full life cycle need and an annual investment target, and provides several strategies for consideration by universities and by funders when considering deferred maintenance needs and management. These strategies are intended to provide a practical starting point for detailed renewal plans which, by their nature, must ultimately be unique to every university.

Click the link below to read the Deferred Maintenance report.  CAUBO’s previous deferred maintenance report, “A Point of No Return,” published in 2000, is also below for reference.

Deferred Maintenance report 2014
CAUBO’s previous deferred maintenance report – A Point of No Return


Clarification: The report (page 7) describes a major renovation as “… addressing at least 50% of a building’s components while reinvesting at least half of the building’s current replacement value …”  Note that the actual definition used by study participants was “… renovation that cost at least 50% of the building’s replacement value and/or the scope of which involved work done on at least 50% of the building’s various components …”
(applies to English version only)


Further Reading on Deferred Maintenance and Related Topics:

Infrastructure Funding: Rising to the Challenge, in the Fall 2011 issue of University Manager magazine

The Importance of Accessing Building Performance, in the Summer 2010 issue of University Manager magazine

Indirect Costs of Research (ICR) Report (2013)

This study was undertaken in a context of growing research activity and complexity, increases in infrastructure operating costs, increased levels of regulation and compliance requirements – all of which result in increases in costs driven by research but not funded as direct research costs.

Specific objectives of the study were to:

  • assess the impact of growing research activity and the resulting ICR on universities’ ability to support research;
  • identify and document barriers to the full recovery of ICR;
  • consider the need to better communicate the impacts of ICR on the organization to internal and external stakeholders.

The three key areas of policy and practice explored were:

  • Measurement of indirect costs.  To what extent and how do Canadian universities measure or estimate the indirect costs of research, and what are the results of that exercise?
  • Recovery of indirect costs.  What are the policies and practices regarding cost recovery, and what are the challenges to such recovery?
  • Allocation of funding received.  How are indirect cost recoveries managed and allocated within the institution, and what is the basis for the allocation?

Most of the information in the report is based on the results of a broad survey, covering the three areas noted above, distributed to all Canadian universities.  Responses were received from 48 institutions including all of the 15 most research-intensive universities and a broad sample of the others, both in terms of size and geographical location.  With this response rate, the results are considered representative of the situation nationally.

The study found that about half of Canadian universities measure indirect costs of research, primarily to meet external reporting requirements but the results are also largely applied for internal budgeting purposes. While the approaches used to measuring indirect costs vary, the results are consistent: those respondents that provided an estimate of indirect costs indicated that they were between 40% and 60% of the direct costs.

Policies for the recovery of indirect costs exist at most universities, typically as a fixed rate but with many variations depending on the type of research – e.g. grant or contract – or by sponsor, category, and other distinctions including direct negotiation with funders. The two most commonly cited challenges to the recovery of indirect costs, likely linked, were refusal on the part of some funding organization to pay indirect costs, and reluctance on the part of researchers to include them in their research budgets.

Read the full report by clicking on the link below:
Indirect Costs of Research Report – Report
Indirect Costs of Research Report – Policies


Further Reading and Study on Indirect Costs of Research and Related Topics:

Fundamentals of the Research Enterprise – CAUBO Online Course (click to see when it will next be offered)
Enabling the Research Enterprise: An Institutional Challenge, A National Imperative – 2013 Conference Session recording available through the CAUBO Live Learning Centre
The Role of the Compliance Officer in Post‐Award Research Administration – 2013 Conference Session recording available through the CAUBO Live Learning Centre
Emerging Risks Impacting the Research Enterprise: Minimizing Risk, Promoting Opportunity – 2012 Conference Session recording available through the CAUBO Live Learning Centre

Current Advocacy Initiatives

Tri-Agency Transition to Principles Based Guidelines

CAUBO is providing support to members as the sector transitions to the Tri-Agency Principles-based Guidelines. This principles-based guide will foster a balance between control and flexibility, and it will also take into consideration existing administering institutions’ policies, processes and internal controls.

March update to CAUBO members

Past Advocacy Initiatives

Reducing the administrative burden in Canada in research management

An initiative undertaken jointly by CAUBO, CASRAI , CARA and other key stakeholder groups focuses on reducing undue administrative burdens in various research management processes in Canada, and where federal programs are a source of this burden, to support/inform efforts at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to achieve a tangible reduction of the burden. A Steering Committee composed of representatives from CAUBO and CASRAI is overseeing this project, whose objectives are to:

  1. understand the various issues from the perspectives of the diverse stakeholders;
  2. identify and prioritize specific issues where tangible solutions are most feasible;
  3. convene a working group of subject matter experts to collaboratively develop the documentation and proposed standards for the identified solution; and
  4. develop plans for implementation within the local systems of affected stakeholders. Members interested in providing input on these issues can do so by joining the ABC Community of Interest group.

More information on: http://casrai.org/abc

GST Public Service Body Rebates

Representatives from CAUBO and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met with Finance Canada in June to voice concerns regarding changes to the claim periods for GST Public Service Body Rebates that were announced in 2014. In total, close to 50 letters of support were sent to Finance Canada, demonstrating that CAUBO had strong support from its members on this issue. CAUBO and FCM representatives clearly illustrated the administrative impact of this change for universities and municipalities, as well as potential implementation and auditing challenges for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). While initial reactions were positive, no formal response has been received from Finance Canada or CRA to our request to modify the regulations. We continue to monitor the situation on members’ behalf.

Amendments to the Tax Code (regulation 4802 and section 253.1)

CAUBO and the Pension Investment Association of Canada have sent two letters to the Minister of Finance requesting specific changes to the tax code. The first letter requested amendments to regulation 4802 to permit Canadian public universities to invest as shareholders in tax-exempt corporations such as real estate pools. The second letter requested amendments to section 253.1 to clarify the ability of Canadian public universities, as registered charities, to invest in limited partnership vehicles as a passive investor. Federal Budget 2015 amended this restriction to allow such investments as long as they account for 20% or less of holdings in the limited partnership – good news for universities.

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)

In response to a request from CFI in 2013, CAUBO and the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) collaborated to develop a common position on the proposed changes regarding in-kind contributions. As a result of the arguments put forward, the CFI did not implement the 10% limit on supplier discounts as proposed.  Subsequently, the CFI published updated guidelines that clarified expectations for collaborations and partnerships and promoted practices to ensure the integrity of the procurement process is supported with respect to supplier discounts.

Canadian not-for-profit accounting standards

In response to a request from the Accounting Standards Board and the Public Sector Accounting Board for comments on their proposed changes to Canadian not-for-profit accounting standards, CAUBO’s Finance Committee, with input from a broad cross-section of interested members, developed a CAUBO response which highlighted key concerns of universities regarding the proposals.  Numerous universities used this response as a basis for their own individual responses.