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Handbook of Business Procedures

Date published: 
Last revised: 
Issued by: 

June 19, 2012
September 17, 2014
Federal Reporting


Part 10. Costing - Table of Contents


A. Introduction

The primary purpose for establishing a service center is to enable The University of Texas at Austin to charge and recover costs incurred for goods or services used and required in support of sponsored research programs or academic needs. A service center can provide services to internal and external users.

Service centers are established to obtain operational efficiencies, eliminate duplication of effort, and provide access to specialized services and/or products. Departments or units are encouraged to utilize existing service centers before requesting to establish a new service center.

B. Items to Consider when Managing or Proposing a Service Center

  • Services provided are required and play a significant role in the fulfillment of the university's educational, research, public service, and support functions, without regard to profit.
  • The service center results in an overall cost reduction, measured as an increase in cost effectiveness, a decline in overcapacity, or an elimination of redundant services.
  • Services must be provided at a reasonable cost to the university and cannot be provided conveniently, adequately, or economically by another service center or external entity.
  • Services cannot be offered to the university community or external entities solely as a means of creating additional revenue.
  • If similar services or goods are currently available from an existing service center, then the proposed service center must be able to demonstrate it can provide the services or goods to users more efficiently or economically, or provide for safer delivery of the services or goods. 
  • What are the goods or services that are included or provided?
  • What procedures will be established  to monitor activity and ensure the ongoing cost effectiveness?
  • Is  the anticipated user base comprised of internal users only or a mixture of internal and external users?
  • Is the demand for the services sustainable and ongoing?  If the services are only going to be in demand for a short time (due to technological changes, etc.) a new center might not be justified.
  • Is there an outside entity or vendor providing the same or similar service?  Describe why using an outside entity/vendor would not be beneficial.
  • Does the service center have support from the dean or vice president and anticipated users?
  • Will the service center be a fully self-supporting operation or will some of the costs be subsidized?
  • Describe the alternative methods that were evaluated prior to proposing a service center and why they were rejected.
  • The records, operations, rates, and practices of all service centers are subject to audit by federal, state, and internal auditors, and by the Office of Accounting and Financial Management.



Part 10. Costing - Table of Contents