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Monday, July 16, 2012

ICPSR 2012 technology recap - where did the money come from?

We're putting together some summary numbers for technology spending and investments at ICPSR for FY 2012.  (The ICPSR fiscal year is the same as the University of Michigan's, and runs from July 1 to June 30.  We've just recently closed FY 2012.)

The first set of numbers shows the allocation of effort in FY 2012 by funding source. The unit of measurement in this pie chart is HOURS (not DOLLARS) that were expended in FY 2012 by each funding source.  (We originally wanted to calculate dollars, but that turns out to be an even bigger effort.)  Here's an interactive chart:

This is an interactive Google Docs chart.  If you click slices of the pie, it will identify the funding source.

The main source of technology effort funding comes from the Computer Recharge, an hourly "tax" that ICPSR levies against all projects.  Although it is one single funding source (nearly 45% of hours worked in FY 2012 were billed against this source), I have split it into two sub-categories, one for what I am calling "IT" and one for "SW" (software).

The "SW" portion includes the effort of all staff who are professional software developers.  The type of work performed by this team using this account includes enhancements and maintenance for ICPSR's core data curation and data management systems, and investments in new products and services such as software developed to support our IDARS system for applying for access to datasets.

The "IT" portion includes the effort of the remainder of the staff which tends to include systems administrators, architects, network managers, and desktop support specialists.  I also allocate my own time to this bucket since the majority of my non-contract, non-grant effort over the past year has been in building and architecting technology systems.

Other big slices of the "IT pie" include the work of staff members who are explicitly funded by projects such as our CCEERC and RCMD web portals; our two Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grants; the ICPSR Summer Program, and many more.  In fact, there are over 20 separate funding sources used to support technology at ICPSR; the pie chart shows 18 because I grouped several small ones into a category called "Misc."

If this gives the impression that there are many, many projects and activities at ICPSR that involve technology, that's good!  That is certainly the case.

However, if "focus wins" then we're in a little bit of trouble.  My sense is that each of this 20-some funding sources has at least one unique project with its own business analysis and project management needs, and it is sometimes the case that different projects have antithetical technology needs.  I see this play out in all phases of the OAIS lifecycle.  ("I want you to build a system that makes it as easy as possible to fetch datasets from ICPSR" v.  "I want you to build a system that requires significant effort and oversight to fetch datasets from ICPSR.")

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