Office of Sponsored Programs

There is a need to address concerns about research, consulting, testing, and public service projects (with or without compensation to the persons involved) being conducted on-campus or off-campus including the use of University facilities without appropriate University approvals. As an example, there are instances where faculty and/or students have used University facilities to test a product and have been paid directly by the funding agency. Another example is where there may be a conflict of interest in doing work for direct pay from an agency that is under contract with the University. This is not to imply that such work cannot be permitted, but if permitted, University policies must be complied with and University approvals are required. University approvals are necessary for at least two reasons. One is the question of personal and product liability, and the other is conflict of interest. Tennessee Tech and Research & Economic Development policies must be adhered to with respect to conflicts of interest.

The liability issue is rather straightforward. If the activity is not approved by the University, persons involved in an accident may not have access to the State Claims Commission or the State Board of Claims.

As a state institution, warranties cannot be given for services provided because all work is done on a ‘best effort’ basis. Therefore, disclaimers must be used on all testing and professional services agreements.

The following three categories of projects involve the use of laboratory equipment as well as field test plots, as in agriculture. Routine testing is discouraged whenever similar services are available in the state through the private sector.

  • Category I. Funded Services for Product Testing
    This category is for services to test products for private clients using the specialized equipment available in our laboratories and the technical expertise of our faculty and students.
  • Category II. Funded Public Service Projects
    This category is for short-term (less than one year), professional service projects for governmental entities.
  • Category III. Funded Professional Service Projects
    This category is for short-term (less than one year), professional service projects for non-governmental entities.

The documents used by the clients (both public and private) to authorize funding for the requested services may include work orders, requisitions, letters of intent, etc., and may involve a formal contract.

The University encourages faculty and staff to conduct both funded and unfunded projects that are within the expertise of the person(s) involved and the mission of the University and are appropriately approved. This policy covers individual projects having a total cost of $7,500 or less. The projects are to be processed through the normal approval procedures except that they are to be activated under one account number assigned on an annual basis to the unit providing the service.

All projects activated under this policy will contain an administrative fee based on total direct costs. The administrative fee is to be used primarily for amortization and maintenance of equipment and related University facilities. Clients (sponsors) may not use the name of the University, the faculty member, or any employee of the University, in any publicity, advertising or news release without the prior written approval of the University’s Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and the dean of the college in which the projects are conducted, or their authorized designees. The funds may be carried over fiscal years. Cost sharing, other than the difference between the federally negotiated rate and the 15% of total direct costs, is not appropriate.

The implementation of this policy will be accomplished as follows:

  1. Proposal Endorsement Forms and project Activation Forms are to be approved by the procedures described in Policy 6.0.
  2. A minimum user fee of 15% of total direct costs will be charged.
  3. A restricted account will be established by the Grants Accountant on an annual basis into which all funds under the jurisdiction of this policy will be expended and otherwise accounted. One account may be used for all such projects within a University unit.
  4. Invoicing will be done by the Grants Accountant either from the University Business Office records or by invoices prepared by the University unit and sent to the Grants Accountant for review and forwarding to the agency. Checks are to be sent to the University Business Office rather than the unit. The unit will maintain records of the method used to arrive at a schedule of charges for services. All costs for services must be included in the budget.

Updated March 27, 2018

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