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Service Centers

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What is a service center?
Service Centers are units within Dartmouth divisions, departments or centers that charge for goods or services that directly support Dartmouth's research or academic mission and recover costs through charges to internal and external users. All Service Centers are expected to recover no more than the aggregate costs of their operations through charges to users. All Service Centers must be able to demonstrate compliance with federal requirements, and cannot use fee structures that discriminate against federal or other funding sources. All Service Centers must follow the steps outlined in the Service Center policy and its associated procedures for approval to initiate a Service Center and for ongoing review and reporting. See "Am I a Service Center" for more information.

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How does my department or unit establish a service center?
To establish a service center, a department must first demonstrate that there is both a need and a clear benefit to be derived from providing goods and services within Dartmouth rather than through an external vendor. Advance approval and/or review is required from the executive or fiscal officer of the area, the Controller's Office, the Office of Sponsored Projects and in some instances the Chief Financial Officer. A new service center must submit a rate proposal at least two months before it plans to begin operations. The process for establishing a new service center requires the following steps:


Complete the Service Center Questionnaire and Rate Documentation Form
Obtain approval as outlined in the Service Center Policy; Appendix A
Request Chart of Account Segment Values; Funding/Activity
Request a Source for transaction processing
For complete instructions refer to the Service Center policy and procedures.

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How do I establish rates for my service center?
A service center rate is the price used to recover the cost of goods or services provided. If a service center provides distinctively different goods or services, it must determine a rate for each separate service or major product line. Rates charged to internal users must be based on and designed to recover no more than the costs of the goods or services being provided. The calculated rate must be the same for all internal users. Higher rates may be established for external users to recover all costs of providing the goods or services, including any institutional indirect costs at the established research rate (Finance &Administration (F&A) costs). Charges to federally funded sponsored projects must use the lowest rate available. All rates must be reviewed and approved in accordance with the service center policies and procedures. We've created examples and templates to help you calculate rates for your service center.


See Activity Base and Rate Calculation Example
To submit your Rates see Service Center Approval and Rate Document form.

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How often do rates need to be calculated and submitted for review?
Service centers are required to submit documentation of their operations including updated service center questionnaire, rate calculation(s), and a fee schedule to the Controller's Office. These documents must have the prior approval of the executive /fiscal officer. Even if the service center is not changing its rate, a new proposal supporting that rate must be submitted for the next fiscal year.  Service Centers with $100,000 or more in annual gross expenses must submit rate documentation annually on or before May 1st. Service Centers with less than $100,000 in annual gross expenses must submit rate documentation every three years (or earlier if a change in practice occurs), on or before May 1st.
To submit completed forms email: Financial.Reports@Dartmouth.edu Subject Field: Service Center or Susan.Mockus@Dartmouth.edu

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How often does a service center need review their operations?
Service center managers are expected to regularly monitor their center's activity throughout the year (at least quarterly) to (1) ensure the accuracy of billings and expenses charged by/to the service center, and (2) review the interim profit or loss on sales, and (3) determine, to the extent possible, whether breakeven will be achieved at year-end by product line and for the service center as a whole.  The service center should take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate an expected significant variance from breakeven that is likely to occur by year-end. This may be accomplished by reducing expenses, increasing revenues, revising rates, providing or reducing subsidies, or a combination of these actions. The size, and the nature of the variance must be disclosed to both the executive/fiscal officer and the Controller's Office. Any proposed mid-year rate changes are subject to review and approval per the Service Center Policy-Appendix A before the revised rates are implemented.

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Who do I contact if I have questions about my service center?
For questions regarding whether establishing a service center should be considered contact your executive or fiscal officer.


For questions or to request assistance with completing forms email: Financial.Reports@Dartmouth.edu Subject Field: Service Center or Susan.Mockus@Dartmouth.edu


For questions or help with billing external customers contact Accounts Receivable


For questions regarding available funding options (should be discussed during the annual budget process) contact the Budget Office and/or the Treasury Office.

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Last Updated: 6/23/16