Consultant Agreements

This page provides an overview on what a consultant is (and is not), and instructions on processing consultant agreements

Review this page prior to setting up a Consultant Agreement and refer back to it as needed. Please refer to the UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual  Consultant Agreements policy 380-70 for additional guidance.

What is a Consultant?

  • A consultant is an individual with professional or technical expertise who is not employed by the university; the university does not control the manner of performance or the results of the service provided by the consultant.
  • A consultant's role is to evaluate a client's needs and to provide expert advice and opinions to management to solve an administrative problem.
  • The end result of a Consultant Agreement is typically a recommended course of action via written or oral communication directed at administration or management.

This role stands opposed to that of an Independent Contractor, who generally evaluates the client's needs and actually performs the work. A contractor might provide services such as interviewing staff, providing a work plan including a strategic plan, hosting and organizing meetings, and various other tasks. These are considered services, not consulting.

NOTE: Section 10515 of the California Public Contract Code strictly limits a Consultant’s ability to perform services, procure goods or supplies, or take any action related to Consultant’s findings and recommendations pursuant to this agreement. If you believe the Consultant should complete specific tasks that may result from the outcome of their review, please inform Business & Revenue Contracts when your original request for an agreement is submitted. Competitive bid requirements also apply; if not competitively bid, Business & Revenue Contracts has an obligation to document that the price to be paid is fair and reasonable.

Service Agreement or Consultant Agreement?

Service Agreement

A service agreement is almost always established in support of a pre-existing product that addresses a well-defined need.  Service Agreements encompass both independent contractors and goods.  Services are generally available commercially and are skilled/technical in nature.

  • Example: You might set up a Service Agreement for a new software purchase or laboratory equipment. The Service Agreement might include regular maintenance, on-call help, and support for the product.

Consultant Agreement

A consultant agreement usually results in the customer receiving advice and counsel without necessarily getting any tangible deliverables (other than a report or other documentation advising a particular course of action).

Selecting Consultants

As mentioned above, consultants should not be current employees of the University of California. There are also restrictions on the amount of time that must pass before a former employee of the University of California can be considered for a consultant Agreement.

Contact several potential consultants with expertise in the particular area you require before agreeing to accept a proposal for work. Search the internet, and/or network with other UC departments or other business contacts for referrals. 

If the proposed consultant is not in the Kuali Financial System (KFS) vendor database, complete the Vendor document in KFS. Consultants not previously in KFS will also need to supply a copy of their W-9 on the UC Davis Vendors W-9 website; the W-9 information will remain confidential and can only be viewed by authorized users

A consultant should be selected based on their professional qualifications and experience for the requested work.  Please note that Business & Revenue Contracts will make the final determination as to the selection of the consultant.

Document and Attachments

A Purchase Agreement should be completed in the Kuali Financial System (KFS) to initiate the request.  Use Commodity Code 80101500 for proper reporting and documentation purposes.

Although a consultant is not the same thing as a contractor in terms of the services/work performed, the Independent Contractor Form (on the Forms page) is to be completed for all Consultant Agreement requests and should be electronically attached to the Notes and Attachments section of your KFS Purchase Agreement document.

If the cost of a consultant is $15,000 or higher, three (3) price quotes must be included with your KFS document and should be electronically attached to the Notes and Attachments section. The Request for Quotation form (on the Forms page) can be used if desired.

Defining Scope, Timelines, and Deliverables

The payment terms, billing rate, invoice frequency, description of service, and any reimbursable expenses should be clearly stated in the Description field of the Items section on the Requisition or the Description field of the Agreement Details section of the Purchase Agreement. 

Any future work should be described in the original agreement as there is a California Public Contract Code prohibition against “follow-on work”. Good contract management includes forecasting the entire length of a project and its associated costs so as to avoid going over required public bidding thresholds.

Evaluating Cost Proposals

When reviewing/evaluating cost proposals from consultants, the lowest overall cost should be a driving factor. One consultant may charge a lower price per hour, but may not have as much expertise/experience in the area for which they are consulting compared to another consultant.  If the lower-priced consultant will need three times as much time to provide their recommendation, it might be better to go with a higher-priced consultant with more relevant experience that will generate a recommendation more quickly.

Monitoring Payments

Payments can be monitored against consultant agreements in:

  • Kuali Financial System: on the home page, in the Purchasing/Accounts Payable section, in the Lookups section, click the Payment Request link. Use the criteria you have to locate the payment, such as the requisition number, purchase order number, or the vendor number. 
  • FIS Decision Support (DS): use the KFS Payment/Credit Lookup (401) to locate payments. Use the Purchasing Order Number field to see all payments issued against that PO. You can also schedule the 401 query to email an updated report at regular intervals based on your preferences. This is a great way to ensure that you stay on top of the payment activity!