Office of Sponsored Research - 500.12 - Consultants


Office of Sponsored Research - 500.12 - Consultants


This operating standard assists faculty and staff in ensuring that independent contractors conduct their portions of research projects in compliance with applicable regulations and their expenses are reasonable and allowable.

Policy Statement

Consultant costs are permitted by the Federal government if budgeted in advance and supported by documentation as to the essential nature of the service. Also, the application must show such services will be obtained from the most qualified person at reasonable and normal rates.

It is essential to budget services and justify them in the proposal budget, as prior approval by the sponsoring agency is required before actual work can begin.

The University is exempt from requiring certain North Carolina approvals and State of North Carolina purchasing policies when expending contract and grant funds for instructional services, curriculum development, or academically oriented research. However, additional University policies and procedures regarding contractual services and purchasing still apply.

Department Administrators (DAs) are responsible for monitoring expenditures and collecting invoices from consultants for payment. Principal Investigators (PIs) should review each invoice before submitting the invoice for reimbursement.

Consultant Travel Reimbursements

Consultants traveling on behalf of a research project are subject to University and State travel subsistence allowance limitations. Professional fees and travel expenses may be combined in one payment to consultants, as long as the sponsor permits it, and travel and associated allowances can be reasonably estimated.

However, separation of consultant travel allowances is necessary on the request for payment of an independent contractor to substantiate compliance with award limitations or guidelines for consulting fees.


As independent contractors unaffiliated with the University, consultants are hired to provide specifically defined services on a given sponsored research project for a limited period. University employees are not eligible to receive compensation as a "consultant" to a sponsored project conducted on behalf of the University.

Consultants differ from Service Agreements, which are agreements around products or services that indirectly support sponsored research without affecting its components.

Related Requirements

Contact Information

For questions regarding this operating standard and its related procedure, please contact

For questions regarding Pre-Award management or Post-Award administration, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS).

For invoicing, reporting and other financial matters, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant. OSR Staff assignments are found in RAMSeS or on the OSR website.


History Table
Date Description
12/16/2019 Removed P.I. signature requirement on invoices and removed separate agreement requirement.
05/15/2018 Revised to coincide with the release of the new OSR Website.
The operating standards in the Office of Sponsored Research Operating Standards & Procedures Manual supersede any OSR operating standards, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.

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Article ID: 132316
Thu 4/8/21 9:28 PM
Fri 7/23/21 12:48 AM
Effective Date
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02/19/2021 9:18 AM
Issuing Officer
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Issuing Officer Title
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Distinguished Professor
Last Review
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02/19/2021 9:18 AM
Last Revised
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04/22/2020 6:46 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/2008 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.