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Discovery Discovery January/February 2002
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by Bob Pfister

Over the last five years, the number of subcontracts MSU has issued to other institutions, businesses and individuals all around the world has grown substantially. One reason for the increase is that many federal sponsors now include collaboration with other institutions in their requirements for some grant awards. However, it isn't always apparent whether a project requires a subcontract or what we call a Contracted Services Agreement.

A subcontract is a portion of the original scope of work from the prime award that has been separated from the rest of the work, and complete scientific control of that work has been given to another colleague not on the MSU campus. The Grants & Contracts Office, in conjunction with the MSU researcher, manage the subcontract.

The alternative to a subcontract is a Contracted Services Agreement or CSA. CSAs are issued in situations where the PI needs to have some work performed off campus but there is no real scientific control or decision-making involved. This work may be something as simple as contracting with a lab to perform a series of blood tests or working with an advertising firm to develop a Public Service Announcement.

If PIs are unsure whether they need a subcontract or a CSA, they should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 994-2381 or by e-mail at . If OSP decides that a subcontract is necessary, they will draft the agreement and put together the necessary documents to forward to your contractor. Each subcontract must have a clear and concise scope of work defining the exact duties your collaborator will undertake and any special requirements you may have such as reporting or specific deliverables. In addition, there should be a budget and budget justification detailing how the collaborator intends to spend the subcontract. At this point, the agreement is sent to the subcontractor for signature and execution.

Once the agreement is signed the issue becomes getting payments to the subcontractor. Payment can be facilitated many ways, but the most common is to have the subcontractor invoice us on a monthly basis.

If a CSA is what you need, that form is available on-line from the MSU Purchasing Office. The number of signatures required plus the need for additional forms depends on the monetary amount of the CSA. Please contact Mary Routhier in the Purchasing Office at 994-3211 for details.

Bob Pfister is the assistant director of the MSU Grants and Contracts Office.



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