L. Gard Wiggins, the man responsible for all Federal programs at the University, vigorously denied yesterday that the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission has adopted a policy offering profits to universities for research projects.
The New York Times science editor reported yesterday that a new AEC policy--"adopted last week with no public announcement"--compensates direct and indirect costs incurred by universities in conducting research under Federal grants or contracts. The Times referred to negotiations over the University of Chicago's Argone Laboratory, contracted from the AEC.
Chicago asked for $1.6 million a year to run the lab; the AEC estimated $600,000 was sufficient; and each side agreed eventually on $1.2 million. The Times regarded the difference between $1.2 million and $600,000 as profit for the University of Chicago.
Wiggins, Administrative vice-president, called the story "an unfortunate bit of publicity for universities."
Harvard and many other universities, have frequently made known that they think the government provides inadequate reimbursement for indirect costs (library use, overhead, etc.), said Wiggins. But government agencies continue to disregard the universities' pleas.
The hidden problem of indirect costs, which can drain a university's funds, were a prime concern of the recent Cheever Report on Harvard and Federal Aid. The reported change in policy by the AEC was just a false alarm, according to Wiggins.