Research Policy Handbook


Retention of Consultants

Now in Policy Details

Summarizes University policy and procedures on the use of paid consultants on sponsored projects at Stanford.

1. Method of Procurement

Outside consultants are retained through the mechanism of a personal services agreement, which is prepared by the Contract Coordinator in the Procurement Department.

2. Limitation on the Use of Consultants

A. University Employees

The University encourages internal consultation among faculty and staff in connection with sponsored research and training projects. Where consultation involves significant commitments of time or effort, an appropriate fraction of the individual's regular full-time salary must be allocated to the benefiting project by payroll distribution, or established department service charge (e.g., internal programming services).

Depending on the extent of consultation and requirements of the research sponsor, prior approval of such charges may be required. Consult the Office of Sponsored Research for detailed information.

Supplementary compensation to University faculty and staff in connection with intra-University consultation is permitted only in exceptional circumstances and requires written approval of the Provost in the case of faculty, and the Executive Director of Human Resources in the case of staff employees.

B. Outside Consultants

It is University policy to conform to sponsor requirements governing outside consultants. For projects which anticipate the retention of a specified consultant as part of the project, a letter of commitment from the consultant must be included with the proposal.

C. Foreign Nationals

Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Regulations, respectively, impose certain limitations as to the term of a consulting engagement and the employment of foreign nationals. Consult Personnel regarding fixed-term employment limitations, and see the document in "Related Items" below regarding employment of foreign nationals.

3. Reimbursement of Outside Consultant's Fees and Expenses

If outside consultant costs are to be paid by the sponsor, the prior approval of the sponsor is generally required unless specifically provided for in the proposal/award. Sponsors require varying kinds and degrees of documentation of the University's files as a condition of paying consultant costs. Required documentation may include a showing of need, the selection process used to identify the consultant, evidence of reasonableness of the fee, and required University approval.

Be sure to consult the sponsor's regulations or the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) for advice as to prior approval and documentation requirements in specific cases. (Where required, selection approval may be obtained from the Director of OSR, the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, or the Director of SLAC for consultants to the SLAC Project.) These points may be covered on the face of the Purchase Requisition, or in a memorandum from the principal investigator or project director; this information will be retained with the record copy of the personal services agreement.

As evidence that the consulting has occurred, copies of approved invoices and, where practicable, reports of the consultation should be retained in the investigator's office.

4. Intellectual Property

Consulting agreements must include a provision incorporating Stanford University's intellectual property policies (see Inventions, Patents, and Licensing, and Copyright Policy, both in Chapter 9 of the Research Policy Handbook). These provisions are incorporated by the Procurement Department into the consulting agreement.