Office of Sponsored Programs
The Ohio State University

Consultant Agreement Procedure

Agreements to secure the services of a consultant on a sponsored program are created when deemed necessary by the principal investigator (PI). Consultants are independent contractors and not employees of the university.

Consultant vs. Employee –Determination

Prior to making the decision to hire a consultant PIs need to determine whether the individual is considered an employee or a consultant/independent contractor. The following checklist can assist PIs in making this determination. The more criteria met, the more likely the individual should be considered an Ohio State employee, even if temporary or part-time. Contact the sponsored program officer for additional guidance in determining if a consultant agreement is necessary and appropriate.

The principal investigator or The Ohio State University:

  • provides instruction about when, where, and how to work
  • provides the workstation, tools, materials, supplies
  • can terminate, assign, or discharge the individual
  • can terminate the contract without risk of lawsuit for breach
  • pays the individual a salary rather than payment based on work completed
  • can be in a continuing relationship, however frequent or irregular
  • has the legal right to control both the method and results of work
  • provides training to the individual
  • hires other employees to assist the individual with the job
  • integrates the individual into the project staff
  • sets the individual’s work schedule

The individual:

  • performs the work as part of the university’s customary line of business
  • assumes no financial risks
  • has no other clients for the same services
  • makes no attempt to acquire other clients
  • makes no profits or losses
  • has no investment in the business

It is the sum of the circumstances rather than any one criterion that determines the proper relationship (employee or consultant). For further assistance, contact the university’s Office of Human Resources.

Consultant Agreement Package

After the decision to hire a consultant has been made, the principal investigator prepares the consultant agreement package (CAP) which consists of the following items:

  • Consultant Agreement
  • Scope of Work, see description below
  • Vendor Setup Form (formerly the AP Compliance form)
  • Individual Investigator Authorization Agreement (for use when the consultant is engaged in non-exempt research involving human subjects)

Scope of Work

The scope of work lists and describes all essential and technical requirements for the effort to be performed, including the items listed below as appropriate:

  • objective or purpose
  • period of performance (work must be completed within the project budget period)
  • consultant responsibilities, tasks, and expected results
  • performance, quality, and timeliness requirements (include required or acceptable levels of performance on each specific task measured in terms of accuracy, response time, and speed)
  • workload requirements (describe levels or size of contractual effort)

Description and estimated costs of any reimbursable expenses

  • personnel requirements (minimum qualifications or skill level of the consultant)
  • reporting requirements and/or other deliverables (describe any reports to be submitted by the consultant to show progress and the final report).

The PI monitors the consultant’s work and verifies that the work is being performed according to the requirements of the consulting agreement. The consultant’s scope of work requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • completion of the detailed description of services
  • time period of performance (before beginning any work the consultant needs to verify that the agreement has been fully set up)
  • description of deliverables
  • quality assurance standards of services and deliverables

Human Subjects

If the consultant will be engaged in non-exempt research involving human subjects, approval from the appropriate Ohio State Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required before entering into a consultant agreement. An Individual Investigator Agreement may also be required. The PI is responsible for contacting the Office of Responsible Research Practices for information regarding Individual Investigator Agreements. For assistance or questions concerning human subjects research requirements, contact the Office of Responsible Research Practices or 614-688-8457.

Consultant Agreement Process

  1. Principal Investigator: Prepares and forwards the Consultant Agreement form to the consultant.
  2. Consultant: Reviews and signs the agreement and completes the Vendor Setup Form. Addresses any conflict of interest certifications on the agreement.By signing the agreement, the consultant accepts the agreement in its entirety, including the scope of work, terms and conditions, and conflict of interest certifications.The consultant then returns the agreement form/supporting documentation to the PI.
  3. Principal Investigator: Signs the agreement and forwards the agreement form/supporting documents, e.g., scope of work, to the SPO.
  4. Sponsored Program Officer: Reviews and approves the agreement and forwards it to the Office of Sponsored Programs Procurement department unless consultant is a non-resident alien, see modified procedure described in the next section of this procedure.
  5. Procurement Office: Issues a purchase order (PO) that commits project funds for the consultant fee only. The following itemsare sent tothe consultant with a copy to the PI:
    • Purchase order and cover letter
    • Consultant agreement fully signed
    • Blank Consultant Invoice forms
    • Pre-Trip or Post-Trip worksheets. The consultant uses these forms to request travel and obtain reimbursement for authorized non-fee expenses (e.g., travel). The consultant must coordinate any reimbursement requests for travel or other non-consultant fee expenses with the PI.
  6. Consultant: Begins work after receiving a purchase order, cover letter, and a fully-signed consultant agreement. Submits all consultant invoice forms and or other non-fee expenses to the PI for approval.
  7. Principal Investigator: Submits any authorized travel expenses to the department’s travel arranger for processing. Approves and forwards consultant invoices to OSP Accounts Payable department.

Non Resident Aliens

When the consultant is a non-resident alien, the PI contacts the Office of Sponsored Programs Accounts Payables department, or 614-292-8187, prior to processing the agreement. Depending on the country of origin and the type of visa, the consultant must provide copies of the following documents:

  • Picture page of passport
  • Current visa
  • Current I-94
  • Social Security number (30% taxes are withheld on each payment for individuals who do not have a Social Security number)
    • Individuals with a Social Security number will be required to enroll in the Glacier system; an email address is required. Contact the Office of Sponsored Programs Account Payables department for assistance at or 614-292-8187.
  • Vendor Setup Form for Payment to B-1 or WB visa holder (if applicable)

Consultant Invoicing Procedures

The consultant completes and signs the Consultant Invoice form to request payment of the billable fee. The consultant sends the original signed form to the PI who approves the invoice by signing the form and forwarding it to the Office of Sponsored Programs Accounts Payable department.

Consultants may obtain reimbursement for travel expenses if stated in the consultant agreement’s scope of work. To be reimbursed, a consultant requests travel payments using the eTravel System pre-trip or post-trip travel worksheet. The consultant signs and forwards the appropriate worksheet, with original receipts, to the PI for approval. Also, for non-travel related reimbursements, the consultant submits original receipts to the PI for processing. The PI submits payment requests and/or receipts to the department for processing.

Amending the Consultant Agreement

The PI may request an amendment to the agreement by preparing a Consultant Agreement Amendment form.

  1. Principal Investigator: Sends the form to the consultant.
  2. Consultant: Signs and returns the original to the PI.
  3. Principal Investigator: Signs the amendment and forwards it with any attachments to the SPO.
  4. Sponsored Program Officer: Reviews and approves the amendment and forwards it to the Office of Sponsored Programs Procurement department.
  5. Procurement Office: Issues a change order to the existing PO or creates a new PO when necessary.

Other Important Considerations

  • The competitive bidding process applies if the aggregate total of the consultant agreement fee is $10,000 on a federal contract and $25,000 or more on other types of sponsored programs. Amendments that increase an agreement beyond the competitive bidding threshold trigger the need to comply with the competitive bidding requirements. A Single/Sole Source Justification and/or Waiver of Competitive Bidding form (PR-025) should be submitted with any such request. For further information and assistance, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs Procurement department at 614-292-6871.
  • The Consultant Invoice submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs must have original signatures.
  • Funds for travel and other non-consulting fee expenses included in the scope of work are not committed to the project. These expenses are charged to the project when reimbursement requests are processed; PIs are advised to monitor their project budgets for these expenses. Travel reimbursements are charged to the travel category in project budgets, while other consultant reimbursements are charged to appropriate budget categories.
  • All consultant invoices and reimbursement requests must be received within 30 days after the end date of the consultant agreement. The PI monitors the work of the consultant and approves all consultant invoices and non-consultant fee reimbursements in a timely fashion.

Contact Information

  • For assistance in preparation of the Consultant Agreement and for other sponsored programs questions contact the sponsored program officer.
  • Contact Office of Sponsored Programs Procurement for questions pertaining to purchase orders for consultant agreements at 614-292-6871.
  • Contact Office of Sponsored Programs Accounts Payable for invoice and reimbursement questions at or 614-292-8187.
  • For all other consultant agreement procurement questions, contact Roger Bigelow 614-292-1244, director, Office of Sponsored Programs Procurement.