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When Should a Contract be Sent to Sponsored Programs?

Many different types of contracts come through the University of Tennessee. Some are for sponsored research programs and need to be sent to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) for review and execution.

First, all contracts between another party and the University of Tennessee must be signed by an authorized signatory. University employees do not have signatory authority to enter into agreements on behalf of the university. UT’s Bylaws (Article IV Section 7) and Contracts Fiscal Policy (FI0420-Contracts, Sections #34 – 40 Executing Contracts) specify which employees are allowed to sign contracts on behalf of the university. Only the persons listed here have signatory authority. Before a contract is signed, it will need to be reviewed and its terms and conditions may need to be negotiated by the university.

Next, is this an agreement between a party and the UT Knoxville campus (main campus)? If it is not for the main campus, then the agreement needs to be sent to the appropriate sister campus. Please note that while the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) is located in Knoxville, it is a separate campus with its own Office of Sponsored Programs. The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (UTGSM), also located in Knoxville, is part of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) campus with its own Office of Research.

What types of contracts need to be sent to OSP for review, negotiation, and execution? Any agreements involving sponsored research need to be sent to OSP.

Sponsored research

  • is externally funded research or scholarly activity
  • has a defined Scope of Work (SOW) and/or set of objectives, which provides a basis for sponsor expectations
  • requires some use of university resources
  • bestows some benefit to the sponsor (which could range from a single technical and financial report to extensive material benefits)

Examples include:

  • Grant Agreements
  • Cooperative Agreements
  • Research Agreements/Contracts
  • Subawards or Subrecipient Contracts from another institution to the University
  • Confidentiality (CDA), Non-Disclosure (NDA), or Proprietary Information (PIA) Agreements
  • Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) for both incoming and outgoing materials
  • Product Evaluation Agreements (similar to MTAs)
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Contract
  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Contract
  • Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)
  • Institutional Consortium Membership Contracts
  • Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)
  • Memoranda of Agreement (MOA)

Vendor Agreements are not for sponsored research and need to be sent to Finance and Administration (a.k.a. “the Tower”). Licensing Agreements should be sent to the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF).

If you are still not sure where your contract needs to go, please call OSP. We will be glad to work with you to find out where your contract needs to go so it can be reviewed and executed by the appropriate office. OSP can be contacted at 865-974-3466 or osp@utk.edu.