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OT- anyone know how "staff support" grants work?

witch.hazel's picture

I am paid under a "staff support" grant, meaning a government agency pays my smaller agency to have me work out of their building, to be part of their team, and to supervise me.

So, the agency is also supposed to pay me out of the grant that they receive. I found out today what they receive for each hour that I work. When I ran the numbers, they are making a big profit off of me being here. Suppose they receive $60 dollars for every hour that I work, and they pay me $20 and keep $40. That is the situation that I'm dealing with. 

Of course, I'm going to be addressing this with my supervisor and pretty much telling them they need to give me a raise that's fair, or I walk.

But, I'm having a hard time finding reference to this situation. Does anyone know whether there is some type of grant or labor law that specifies how much of a staff support grant an agency keeps and how much of it they pay the contracted employee?

I'm really feeling exploited. The agency provides me with an office, computer, and a supervisor who I meet for an hour once per month, or any time I need to speak with her for a few minutes. Why are they keeping well over half the grant money?


moving_on_again's picture

There are more expenses for an employee than just their wages. Who pays the rent and utilities at your office? 

witch.hazel's picture

Yes, I'm assuming it makes sense for SOME of it to go for those expenses. But I'm not sure how it would be more than half of the grant. They own the building, and pay the utilities, though I'm guessing they get a special rate for that also.


Cover1W's picture

Is it a true grant or a contract?  And what type?  If it's fixed price they may be getting a set amount.  However, every grant has F&A calculated on the direct costs, to which pay rate, fringe costs (associated at a percentage of your pay rate) are added.

So salary + fringe rate + F&A = total amount reimbursed.  It's not just your pay rate your company is getting paid for.

witch.hazel's picture

I think a contract. Thank you, I'm trying to find what other things other than pay may be involved, because I'm trying to make sense of it. 

witch.hazel's picture

Thank you, I have benefits, and didn't think of that. The benefits cost them $10,000 per year.

Harry's picture

Your boss’s Have to make money, they have to file for the grant money have to keep track, do Billings,  May have legal bills to keep everything on track. Reports ?  All government things needs reports. Plus’s I am sure they want a vacation.  If 1/3 is fair, or 1/2 or 3/4 is fair IDK.  But the people who work for Apple, MS, Amazon also feel this way 

witch.hazel's picture

Benefits, yes. No equipment, beyond an office to sit in and a desktop computer where I use email and internet. I use my own car and cell phone. I have a supervisor who is the head of the team I'm on. And I work with their clients, so of course my work benefits them. Thanks, Merrywey.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Former grant writer here. Whenever I wrote in a job description, I wrote the following into the grant per employee:

- Wage/salary

- Fringe benefits (health insurance, life insurance, FICA, workman's comp, unemployment, and any other benefits offered by the agency)

- Travel/mileage

- Office supplies (e.g. paper, pens, toner)

- Office equipment (e.g. desk, computer, office chair, printer, telephone)

- Utilities and rent

- Supervision salary and fringe

- Indirect costs (e.g. admin fee for managing the grant, usually 3-8%)

A single employee can cost over double their salary on the cheap end, triple if they do a lot of travel or need specialized equipment, extra insurance, etc. I managed about $500,000 in grants for a small organization, and less than $200,000 went to salary.

Keep in mind a few things:

1.) All because your agency has space for you doesn't mean that space is free. Someone had to pay for it at some point. Charging you rent means the money can go back into programming/products, or maintenance/upgrades on the building which usually cannot be directly billed to a grant because it is infrastructure.

2.) All because your grant MIGHT have money to pay you more doesn't mean your job is QUALIFIED for more. Some places have set pay bands, and even if the money exists, they won't pay people outside those bands.

3.) Your grant had to cover EVERY expense of yours. Very few agencies will offer "in kind" donations because they need the money to stay afloat. Everything you do, every Post-It you right on, every watt of electricity you use, has to be covered. Employees are far more expensive outside their salary, which is why contract and part-time employees are really nice to have on grants because they are comparatively cheap.

witch.hazel's picture

Thank you very much for your enlightening comment. That helps me understand this quite a bit more. I still think a small raise is in order (because my pay is way behind others at different agencies on the same grant), but I feel less PO'd about it.

ESMOD's picture

I would absolutely omit any reference to what they get vs what you get paid in your discussion of a raise.  As you see in the above explanation, your salary is not out of wack compared to what they get based on all the other things that are included in the grant cost.  Also, you aren't worth more because they have more money.. you are worth more because the job you are doing for them is worth more.

Focus on what you are doing for them.  Focus on comparable salaries of other people doing a similar role... including whether you may have more qualifications than average.. like a higher degree or certification or years of experience.  Your goal is to show them you are worth more.  You can also bring up any COLA issues like whether you have recieved a raise in past years or not..etc..  You need to mention extra work you do.. or the fact that you get more done in less time.  Any way you can quantify why your output is more valuable to them will help.  In the end, they may have a limit to what they feel they can do, but if you focus on your work strengths, you may be able to garner a raise.

secret's picture

". I still think a small raise is in order (because my pay is way behind others at different agencies on the same grant),"

THen go with that, because ANY mention of what you get paid versus what they receive will come off like a whiny teenager complaining their older sibling gets 5$ more a week and it's unfaaaiiiirrrr.