Research Consulting Agreements
Engaging Third Parties to Support Sponsored Program Efforts
Before entering into a relationship with an individual or another entity under a sponsored award in which the other entity will provide goods or services or substantive, programmatic work to the University of Notre Dame, a determination must be made as to the nature of the legal relationship between ND and the other person or entity, which in turn will determine the type of legal agreement required to document the relationship.
Possible relationships include that of an employee, an independent contractor(IC)/external consultant, a subrecipient, or a contractor/vendor.
Employee or Independent Contractor (IC)/External Consultant
To determine whether a person is an employee or independent contractor (IC)/external consultant, it is important to identify the degree of control the University has in the relationship with the person. An IC is generally an individual who is in an independent trade, business, or profession and offers services to the general public. An IC may work as an individual or through a business entity such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability corporation. A worker’s preference is not relevant to the classification determination, nor is that of the local department or unit wishing to engage the individual.
To qualify as an IC:
- The worker must be free from ND’s control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under a contract for the performance of the service and in fact.
- The service performed by the worker must be outside the usual course of ND’s business.
- The worker must be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same type as the service being performed for ND.
This Payee Questionnaire can help determine if an employment or IC relationship exists.
For those that have been employees of the University of Notre Dame in the past as faculty, students or staff, we strongly recommend that the pre-determination be made before proceeding with a request to establish a consulting agreement. Pre-determination requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If an employment relationship exists, please contact your departmental business contact for assistance with the employment process.
Independent contractor(IC)/external consultant, Subrecipient, or Contractor/vendor
If an employment relationship does not exist, the relationship may be that of an independent contractor(IC)/external consultant, a subrecipient, or a contractor/vendor
This is a significant decision because it determines the allocation of responsibilities and influences the appropriate application of indirect cost rates. In the case of subrecipient agreement, it is incumbent upon the prime recipient (ND) to ensure that subrecipients conduct their portions of research projects in compliance with all applicable terms and conditions of awards and subawards and that project costs incurred by subrecipients are reasonable and allowable. Agreements with contractors/vendors for the purchase of services, however, typically do not bind vendors to the full set of sponsor terms and conditions, and are subject to competitive bidding procurement practices, to assure that funds paid to vendors do not exceed fair market value.
This matrix provides additional information to help determine which relationship is most appropriate.
Request an Independent Contractor (IC)/External Consulting Agreement
A research consulting agreement is required when an individual not affiliated with the University of Notre Dame serves as a consultant and provides a highly technical or specialized service on a University research project. The consultant is considered to be an independent contractor (IC) and the agreement must be in place before any professional service is provided in support of the project.
If the individual is employed at another university, Notre Dame Research will need written documentation from the principal investigator stating that the consultant will not be doing the work at their university (i.e. not using their university office or lab space, resources, etc).
If funds are not already budgeted for a consultant, sponsor approval may be required. Please contact your Grants Program Manager for budget revision assistance prior to submitting this form.
If the work being performed by the consultant will take place in a foreign location, the request for a research consulting agreement will be vetted by the Office of General Counsel prior to its execution in order to confirm the agreement complies with the appropriate labor laws in place at the foreign location where the work will be performed. Please take into account this additional review step required when planning your project timeline for onboarding consultants that will complete their work in a foreign location.
All requests for a research consulting agreement must be accompanied by a statement of work (SOW). The SOW needs to include a detailed description of services focused on deliverables, deadlines, and outcomes, as opposed to generic duties and process details that could imply Notre Dame’s “management” of the independent contractor. If an Independent Contractor will not be performing continuously but only in short-term segments depending on project needs, consider specifying that the independent contractor will not mobilize or deploy except with written green light from Notre Dame. The SOW should also include a summary of anticipated travel or other costs for reimbursement, if applicable. It is generally expected that Notre Dame will not reimburse the independent contractor for ordinary business expenses such as photocopy/reproduction costs, telephone and internet, or courier expenses incurred in the performance of services and these costs should be accounted for in the consulting fee. If such project-specific business expenses are to be reimbursed, these should be explicitly outlined in the SOW. If the Independent Contractor will be provided with any advance funds please list the specific expenses to be advanced in the SOW. The independent contractor will be required to submit documentation of these expenses and return any funds that are not used.
Request a Subrecipient Agreement
If a subrecipient relationship is most appropriate, please contact your Grants Program Manager for assistance.
Request Contractor/Vendor Agreement (Purchase Requisition/Order)
If you will be engaging with a consulting firm and/or vendors that are providing services and a contractors/vendor relationship is most appropriate, please contact your departmental business contact or Procurement Services.