Labor performance tends to improve as activity is concentrated around fewer investigators or as average investigator activity increases.
Animal care programs with moderate scale and high complexity (many species and many services) have some structural explanations for higher costs.
Improving direct labor performance is a very effective way to reduce operating costs.
Reduce complexity by consolidating activity into fewer rooms and facilities wherever possible.
Focus on improving performance of animal care staff, through close measurement and management.
Reduce complexity of care (activities other than direct animal care) to help to reduce other costs for supplies and services, transportation, supervision, and protective clothing. Alternatively, the cost of complex services should be recovered outside the per diem charge.
Complexity of animal care program administration can materially affect costs.
Animal purchasing and setup costs can have a substantial impact on short-term protocols and protocols that use expensive animals.
A mix of per diem and direct service charges makes good sense in that the user pays for special services. This mixture of charges assesses the true cost (assuming that the institution does not subsidize part of the animal care program from other institutional resources) of operations and maximizes the predictability of cost recovery. Accounting systems that roll these costs into their per diems are generally subsidizing short–term and complex projects or research with certain species at the expense of long–term and less complex projects.
Veterinary technicians, animal technicians, and veterinary residents can extend the capacity of the professional veterinary staff.
Number of investigators per veterinarian and number of protocols per veterinarian have little correlation across institutions.
Other surveys have found reasonable correlation between veterinary staffing and the number of nonrodent mammals in an institution. As the number of rodents grows, this correlation may decrease.