Research Foundation of the State University of New York

Administrative and Discretionary Costs

The Research Foundation of the State University of New York is a not-for-profit corporation that raises funds, promotes research, and administers gifts and grants that support the educational activities of SUNY. The activities of the Foundation are funded primarily by research grants; however, the Foundation also has miscellaneous sources of revenue (such as investment income) and recovers certain of its indirect costs. Some of this non-grant revenue should be used to cover the Foundation’s administrative costs, and the rest can be spent on discretionary initiatives that support the overall mission of SUNY.

We examined the use of this non-grant revenue and found that, in most instances, it was used as intended. However, we identified some instances in which the funds were used in ways that appeared to circumvent prescribed State policies and laws applicable to SUNY. For example, the funds were sometimes used to award contracts noncompetitively, including one instance in which a lobbying firm was paid $600,000 to $720,000 a year to provide services that often were not specified in the invoices from the firm. We also identified two instances in which campus presidents were provided with supplemental housing allowances (totaling $137,500) that exceeded SUNY’s limits for such allowances, and two instances in which employees’ salaries were supplemented in amounts beyond the limits allowed by State law. We further determined that the Foundation was not complying with the terms of a 1977 agreement, which requires that a portion of the non-grant revenue be deposited in a fund that is subject to normal State oversight. We recommended that the Foundation comply with the terms of this agreement.

For a complete copy of Report 2004-S-13 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.