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Cornell University

Facilities Inventory Organized Research Best Practices

These best practices are based on recommendations from the Cost and Capital Assets Office and experienced users who report organized research space.


Make sure people understand that they’re reporting on space usage, not effort, that is, how the space is being used, not exclusively how the person using the space is paid. There can occasionally be some confusion. Office space will often be coded based on effort, but lab and other spaces should be coded by actual use.  If research is being done in an office (for example, in computer science), then the space coding should reflect the research activity.

Audits normally occur months after the close of a year.  Therefore, it is important to have adequate documentation. 

Customize communications for each PI and require verification of their space occupancy data.

Tracking Occupants

Develop a method to track faculty/staff/student space use.  Generally this work is done outside the inventory system in an Excel spreadsheet, online calendar, or local database.  A single method cannot be recommended because the type of research differs across colleges and divisions.

This may include working with Human Resources, grant coordinators and lab managers to understand how space is used

  • Visit space and occupants.
  • Look at space over a full year so that it can be appropriately prorated.
  • Run a Sponsored Projects report from the Kuali Data Warehouse, KDW, to obtain account numbers, project names, and expiration dates of accounts. See sample 2 on page 3).

Review your space at the end of each semester to catch appropriate changes.

Perform inventory updates toward the end of inventory cycle in June or July so that room data is the most accurate and can be appropriately prorated.  See the “Occupancy Research” instructions.


Keep accurate documentation for audit purposes. It is essential to keep backups of supporting documentation in an accessible location. Audits including those by a granting agency or federal cost reviewer will typically occur a few months to a few years after an annual inventory cycle close, so make sure others can access and understand records.