Direct Costs: Contractor and Consultant

When working with an individual, company, or organization to fulfill the goals of a sponsored project, UCI must consider what type of relationship is most appropriate for the work to be completed. Depending on the type of relationship, different forms and requirements are applicable.

A contractor is a supplier that receives a legally binding document for the present or future procurement of goods and/or services. A contractor relationship exists when the University has the right to control only the end result of a service, not the manner of performance.

A contractor is not subject to Federal program compliance requirements (e.g., IRB, IACUC, etc.)

A consultant is typically a person of professional or technical competence who provides advice to the University. An independent consultant relationship exists when the University does not control either the result of the service or the manner of performance.

A consultant does not require use of the facilities and resources of UCI, and pays their own taxes on earnings from the project.
Although some individuals, companies, or organizations may refer to themselves as consultants, they may not be considered consultants under the UC definition of a consultant.



Paid a flat fee upon completion and acceptance of deliverable(s).

Paid a flat fee based on a fee schedule.

Provides similar goods/services to many different purchasers in a competitive environment. These goods/services support the activities of the project.

Provides professional advices or services, and solves clearly delineated problems.

Is not responsible for the project design, research or educational activities, and is not involved in programmatic work on the project.

Is not involved in programmatic decisions and does not direct or carry out solutions.

A Purchasing Agreement should be completed for both Contractors and Consultants.

Required forms*:

*Please check with Procurement Services for the most up-to-date forms and requirements

Additional Resources

Consultants on NIH Grants: Key Personnel?

Generally, consultants are not considered senior/key personnel. However, if consultants contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project substantively and measurably, they should be designated as senior/key personnel and would be included in the Senior/Key Person Profile Component.

Grantees should describe in the budget justification the services to be performed by the consultant(s) and include the number of days of anticipated consultation, the expected rate of compensation, travel, per diem, and other related costs for each.

Biosketches and levels of effort greater than zero person months are required of all personnel designated in the application as senior/key (NIH FAQs – Senior/Key Personnel, Consultants).