Recharge Activities

Primary Contact: s-judge [at] northwestern [dot] edu (Sheila Judge)

Cost Studies and Account Management: m-suran [at] northwestern [dot] edu (Michelle Suran)

Development and management of a shared instrumentation facility is a fine art. It requires not only expertise in the use and maintenance of the instruments but also an understanding of the philosophy and procedures for growing and maintaining the business side of the core.

The role of CLP in this process is three-fold: (1) to help you to develop business and marketing plans, (2) to prepare budgets and cost-studies, and (3) to manage billing and reporting.

Business Plan

Advisory Board


Marketing Tools

Cost Studies

Creation of New Core Facility Accounts

Billing and Account Management

Core Facility-First Time Users

NUCore- CLP Core Support



A business plan is a crucial element in the development of a new shared resource core. In the course of preparing your business plan you will (a) identify your user base, (b) delineate how your core will operate in terms of services offered, (c) determine the administrative and technical structure of your core and outline roles and responsibilities, (d) examine the role of the core in relationship to University and regional needs, and (e) create a long-term budget strategy.

Developing a business plan is a crucial first step in launching a new core. Upon request, Sheila will provide you with an outline that may be used as a template for developing your plan.

You should familiarize yourself with NU guidelines for operation of core facilities. An overview of recharge center policies and guidelines is provided at:


Recharge facilities are required to create an Advisory Board that is composed of major instrument users and representatives of the appropriate Centers and Institutes that house the instrument. The Advisory Board should meet 1-2 times per year. Their role is to review the annual progress of the facility and to provide oversight and guidance for its operations. The Board is expected to review the Core’s Annual Report.


Core facility budgets are composed of multiple elements: they include various sources of revenue such as recharge activity, sponsored projects, and support from central or departmental administration. Expenditures can vary broadly, encompassing personnel, equipment acquisition, repair, maintenance and replacement, supplies, travel, etc. The budget stands separate from the cost studies which focus only upon the revenue and expenses that are associated with the recharge account (160 chartstring).

Each Core Facility is required to submit an annual budget with its Annual Report. Centers that incorporate core facilities are required to not only submit a Center Annual Report and Budget to the Office for Research (usually in mid-January) but also a separate report on Core Facility activities and budget (usually April 1st).


CLP Contact: t-leighton-ozmina [at] northwestern [dot] edu (Tiffany Leighton Ozmina)

It’s tough to run a business if potential customers don’t know that you exist! Every Core Facility needs to have a functional website that describes the instrumentation and expertise that is available, provides an overview of the types of research supported by the Core, lists rates for all lines of service, and enables new users to readily contact Core staff.

In addition, the Core needs to “get the word out” to the NU research community and neighboring institutions. This can be accomplished through a variety of mechanisms, including:

  • Creating website or adding content to CLP webpages
  • Supplying content for articles in Office for Research communications vehicles
  • Listing the Core on the Facilities website
  • Participating in the annual spring Core Facilities fair
  • Hosting open houses
  • Distributing and posting brochures
  • Email blasts through departmental, Center and CLP listserves

Tiffany can help you create published materials and pages on the CLP website. You are responsible for providing content and direction and for the look and feel of the finished product. Given sufficient notice, Julie Cowan, from the Office for Research, can work with you on design issues and website development.


Contact: m-suran [at] northwestern [dot] edu (Michelle Suran)
The Cost Studies Recharge Template is used to calculate recharge rates. Cost studies are submitted when a new core is established. They are also updated annually for all existing recharge centers.

The process for completing a cost study involves:

  • Estimating the Center’s/Core’s expenses and # of users to determine the calculated (cost-based) rates; and
  • Based on the calculated rates, determining prices to charge NU and any external customer.

Over time, a recharge center should break even; a center may lose money on its operations, but it may not earn a profit. After initial establishment, annual surplus/deficit analysis must be done and any carry-forward amount is included in the next year’s rate calculations to achieve a break-even position. However, up to 2 months of working capital may carry forward into the next year.

Sheila and Michelle will help you to estimate costs and usage for the cost studies. Michelle will prepare the cost studies and annual surplus/deficit templates.

Revenue may not be charged until the cost study is approved for a new recharge center. The annual cost study must also be approved before revenue can be charged in the new fiscal year.

At any time during the year, cost studies may be updated if new services or personnel are added or if the estimates going into the year prove to be significantly different than the recharge center’s actual revenues and expenses.

See Cost Study Guidelines for more information.


Contact: m-suran [at] northwestern [dot] edu (Michelle Suran)

In addition to completing the cost study for new Center/Core recharge activities, we will establish a new Department ID and revenue code for your Center’s/Core’s exclusive use. We will also establish new chart strings for the recharge center, capital reserve, and discretionary accounts as needed. After the cost study is approved, appropriate expenses incurred within 90 days prior to the approved date of establishment may be transferred to the recharge center.


Contact: m-suran [at] northwestern [dot] edu ( Michelle Suran)

You or your designee will set up and maintain the recharge center’s information in NUCore.

CLP will process the revenue journals for internal and external users on a semi-weekly schedule. If a user’s chart string is invalid and cannot be charged, NUCore will notify the user to submit a valid chart string.

CLP will also process all expenses related to the recharge center, including purchases, payroll, and depreciation expense (if applicable). Michelle will prepare a monthly reconciliation statement.


Contact: m-suran [at] northwestern [dot] edu ( Michelle Suran)

First time users of core facilities must obtain authorization from their PIs and the business administrators who manage the chart strings that will be charged.

  • Complete the CLP Core Facility: User Approval Form prior to using any core facility for the first time.
  • Signed User Approval forms should be submitted to Michelle Suran.
  • Only original signatures will be considered valid.


Services Provided Annually or As Needed

  • Confirm NUCore rates and price groups reflect approved cost study.

Services Provided Monthly

  • Prepare RHLCCC subsidy worksheet for CAMI and DTC Core Managers to ensure accurate subsidy allocations.  CLP’s Financial Assistant downloads the NUCore billing report and sends relevant monthly information to the Core Manager to ensure that the subsidy for each eligible order is not double charged, prematurely billed or incorrect. The Core Manager uses this worksheet to confirm the total and create the monthly subsidy order in NUCore.
  • Send monthly reminder to Core Managers regarding NUFS deadline for marking orders as reviewed so they can be submitted and posted to the current month’s NUFS budget statement before the monthly close.
  • Review total amount of fulfilled orders in NUCore versus revenue posted in NUFS to determine pending payments for monthly surplus/deficit projections.

 Services Provided Weekly

  • Review outstanding external invoices and determine if follow-up email reminders are needed. Emails are sent when payments are 30 and 60 days past due.

Services Provided Semi-Weekly; Wednesdays and Fridays, as needed

  • Confirm previously submitted NUCore journals posted to the GL005 and GL008 statements.
  • Using GL008’s, reconcile posted NUCore journals for pass-through, subsidy, internal and external revenue. (New journals can’t be submitted until previous journals are reconciled in NUCore.)
  • Submit reviewed (new) journals for NUFS download.
  • Review (for approved PO’s) and submit external invoices.
  • Update pass-through worksheets. For each pass-through expense, CLP’s Financial Assistant enters requisition information, pass-through chart string information, final invoice information, and the NUFS journal number into a shared worksheet.  The person responsible for preparing orders in each core uses this worksheet to prepare a “Miscellaneous Fee” order for each pass-through so this recharge activity can be recorded in NUCore. After the NUCore journal is submitted for the order, the worksheet is updated with the NUFS journal number to confirm final processing of the pass-through expense. This worksheet provides an audit trail for pass-through expenses.
  • Update external revenue worksheets. (NUCore records the initial date that the system sent an invoice to an external user.  External payments may not be received for 3 or more months.  CLP’s Financial Assistant enters tracking/communication information for each external invoice into a shared worksheet to enable the Core Manager to track the status of each pending payment. For example, the worksheet will show that a follow up inquiry was emailed to the client on 12/1/12 and 1/1/13. It will also show the date on which the payment was finally received.  After 60 days of non-payment, we will review options with the Core Manager) 

Additional NUCore and Core Support Services Provided

  • Add chart string access for other Business Administrators as requested.
  • Frequently provide first response to NUCore system or ordering problems. FY13 examples include: errors with NUCore subsidy reporting, incorrect chart string suspension, inability to bill due to order due to error in completion date, external payment sources without PO’s, submitted journals missing in NUFS and disputed orders notification.
  • Identify and implement solutions for payment of overdue invoices.
  • Provide suggestions to NUCore Development Team based on problems experienced by the Cores.
  • Work with NUCore and Financial Services teams to include PayPal option in NUCore.
  • Follow up on external PO’s not previously approved by OR/OSR.
  • Process remote deposits (check and deposit slip prep; CRT and online remote deposit entry).
  • CLP has fiduciary responsibility for the Cores. Additional support includes providing checks and balances for all transactions, cost study support, compliance oversight, and program review and audit support as well as maintaining Deposit Log per NU policy, managing payroll and visas, assisting with other HR related issues (including recruitment), reconciling chart strings, analyzing projections, monitoring open encumbrances, resolving problem purchase orders and preparing requisitions and vouchers for Cores with limited staff.