Research, Grants and Contracts Purchasing & Accounts Payable

Research, Grants and Contracts is responsible for the purchase of supplies, materials, equipment and contractual services for all sponsored (i.e., grant- and contract-funded) projects at SUNY Oneonta. In addition, responsibilities include all payments to vendors, processing of stipend and travel requests, and maintenance of 1099 tax information. We also act as the primary contact for the SUNY Research Foundation for supplier records and non-payroll check issuance.

Research, Grants and Contracts is responsible for ensuring that all expenditures comply with applicable Sponsor, Research Foundation (RF), SUNY and Federal guidelines. This is done by reviewing the terms and conditions of awarded contracts and grants and maintaining current knowledge of federal rules and regulations.

Research, Grants and Contracts staff are committed to a maximum two-week turnaround for purchases, not including extenuating circumstances. Planning ahead helps assure that expenditures get processed correctly and in a timely fashion.

Principal Investigators, Project Directors and Project Administrative staff can monitor expenditures on awards through the RF Report Center. Training on the Report Center is provided to all appropriate staff upon receipt of an award.

Purchase orders

Purchases with sponsored funds can be made by completing a RF Purchase Requisition. The purchase requisition should include a description of the goods to be ordered, quantity requested, price, suggested vendor(s), appropriate authorization, expenditure category and the project, task and award to which the items should be charged.

Quotes from the vendor, ordering forms, registration forms, or other descriptive materials should be attached to the purchase requisition.

Purchase requisitions should be sent to Research, Grants and Contracts. A purchase order will be produced based upon the information submitted.

Upon receipt of the goods, the recipient should determine if the goods or services are acceptable or unacceptable. If the order is acceptable and complete, please sign and return the receiving copy to the Research, Grants and Contracts office so payment can proceed.

If the goods or services are unacceptable, contact Research, Grants and Contracts.

Purchases from vendors who do not accept purchase orders

The Research, Grants and Contracts office has a corporate credit card account that can be used to charge expenditures on Research, Grants and Contracts. A purchase requisition should be completed according to the instructions above and submitted to Research, Grants and Contracts where the charge will be processed on the corporate credit card account.

For purchases charged to the Research, Grants and Contracts corporate credit card account, a receiving copy may not be sent. In that case, please send a packing slip to the Research, Grants and Contracts office and advise if the items shipped are complete and acceptable.

Purchases of Equipment and Non-consumable Supplies

Purchases of equipment and non-consumable supply items require the following to be submitted to the Research, Grants and Contracts Office upon receipt of the item: 1) Equipment Loan Form; 2) Email picture of item serial number.

Out of Pocket Expense Reimbursement Policy

Purchases paid for out-of-pocket are discouraged from vendors who would accept a purchase order or a purchase via the corporate credit card. In those cases when a vendor will not accept a purchase order or a corporate card, then RF personnel may make project-related purchases with personal funds (including personal credit cards) if purchases comply with the requirements of the RF, SUNY and the Sponsor. Requests for reimbursement should be submitted on an RF Purchase Requisition with the original receipts, description, and purpose of the purchase, the amount requested for reimbursement, appropriate authorization, name and address of the person to be reimbursement, the expenditure category and appropriate project, task and award number to which the expenditure should be charged.

Please be advised of the following for out-of-pocket purchases with personal funds:

  • Prior to making any out-of-pocket purchases, a Tax Exempt Certificate should be obtained from Research, Grants and Contracts and used when making the purchases.
  • If the vendor would have accepted a tax exempt certificate and it was not used, taxes paid in accordance with the purchase may not be reimbursed.
  • If the vendor does not accept the tax exempt certificate and taxes are paid, then an explanation for the denial of tax exemption must be included on the purchase requisition for consideration of re-imbursement.
  • Reimbursement may be disallowed if it is determined that the purchase violated any Federal, Sponsor, RF or SUNY regulations.

Procedure to engage an independent contractor

The Principal Investigator (PI) (party engaging contractor) takes the following steps at the time of negotiation and prior to any commitment to an Independent Contractor (IC).

  1. Review the definition and classifications of an IC to determine if payment should be made as an employee or IC (see Definitions and Classification sections below). Contact Research, Grants and Contracts for guidance.
  2. Submit a completed Independent Contractor Services Form which includes the following to the Research, Grants and Contracts Office:
    1. a detailed description of services to be provided a statement detailing the selection process to choose the most qualified consultant.
    2. a justification for reasonableness of cost
    3. A statement of work or list of deliverables.
    4. Worksheet “Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors or Employees”.
    5. If IC is also a SUNY or other NYS agency employee, a SUNY Addendum Form completed by the IC must be submitted.
  3. For contracts of $10,000 or more the PI should submit all of the above and in addition:
    1. a complete scope of work in place of a list of deliverables above .
    2. confirmation of Certificate of Liability Insurance.

Research, Grants and Contracts will:

  1. Send IC a letter of agreement and W-9 form (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification).
    1. If over $10,000 Research, Grants and Contracts will send a contract
    2. Upon receipt from the IC of a signed letter of agreement and W-9, Research, Grants and Contracts will provide IC with a Purchase Order.
  2. Make payment to IC from a PI approved invoice.

If the Contractor is a foreign citizen:

  • A W-8BEN form (Certificate of Income Tax Treaty Exemption) will be required in place of the W-9
  • A W-7 form (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is required if contractor does not have a U.S. Taxpayer Identification number
  • A copy of Visa is required

Twenty Factors of the "Common Law Test"

  1. Compliance with instructions. Employees must comply with another person’s instructions on when, where, and how the work is performed. In a true independent contractor relationship, the only control to which the contractor is subject is the result.
  2. Training required. Independent contractors are not normally trained but rather are hired for their expertise in a field.
  3. Integration of services into business operations. Employees’ services are usually a vital part of the daily operation of an employer’s operation.
  4. Services rendered personally. Employees personally render the services, while contractors may delegate such work to others.
  5. Hiring, supervising, and paying assistants. Usually individuals who perform all these functions are treated as independent contractors.
  6. Continuing relationship. Employees are usually hired for an ongoing period, while a contractor’s work ends when the job ends.
  7. Set hours of work. Employees usually must adhere to a work schedule established by the employer.
  8. Full-time required. Generally, employees work full-time for an employer, while independent contractors work when and for whom they choose.
  9. Performing work on the employer's premise. Those working at the employer’s site may be viewed as employees.
  10. Services performed in order or sequence set. Persons told to perform work in a certain sequence generally are considered employees.
  11. Oral or written reports. Employees are more likely to be required to submit regular reports to the employer.
  12. Payment by hour, week, month. Typically, employees are paid on a regular basis, while independent contractors are compensated by the job or on a lump-sum or straight commission basis.
  13. Payment of business and/or travel expenses. Employer payments of a person’s work-related travel expenses generally indicates employee status.
  14. Furnishing of tools and materials. Employees, not individual contractors, are generally provided with supplies.
  15. Significant investment. Individuals who have a significant personal investment in the facilities they use for work are normally independent contractors.
  16. Realization of profit or loss. Unlike employees, independent contractors realize a profit or loss based on their success in performing a service.
  17. Working for more than one firm at a time. Individuals who perform services for a number of employers are usually independent contractors.
  18. Making services available to general public. Individuals who regularly make their services available to the general public are usually treated as independent contractors.
  19. Right to discharge. Employees can be fired, while independent contractors cannot be discharged if they fulfill contract specifications.
  20. Right to terminate relationship without incurring liability. An employee can terminate his employment relationship with his employer at any time, whereas an independent contractor may be liable for breach of contract for leaving work unfinished.


Independent Contractor

An individual who, under agreement, performs a service and who is subject to the controls of the other only in regard to the result achieved.

  • The contractor:
    • Is not controlled in regards to the manner or means by which their services are performed.
    • Services provided are typically task oriented, specific in nature, short in duration, or sought based on expertise.
    • In general, an independent contractor performs work subject to the control and direction of the hiring organization only as to the RESULT of the work, and not as to the MEANS of performance.
    • For compensation of services over $20,000, three quotes should be obtained. In some instances, a single (sole) source procurement may be justified, despite the fact that competition exists, because of limiting circumstances, e.g., experience or service of the contractor. Determination of qualification as a sole source cannot be made until documentation is submitted and reviewed by Research, Grants and Contracts. A formal contract with a detailed Scope of Work will be completed
    • In all cases, engagement of the contractor is not authorized until all required approvals from Research, Grants and Contracts offices are obtained.

Compensation is paid at an agreed upon amount or rate, for a given task.

Employee: Generally speaking, an employee is subject to the control of the employer as to what work must be done and how the work must be done. It is not necessary that the employer actually direct or control the manner in which the services are performed; it is enough that the employer has the right to do so. Services performed are in the course of the general business of the employer, typically performed on-site for a long or indefinite period of time. Compensation is usually made on a time or task basis.


If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, there are potential penalties that could be assessed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or New York State Department of Labor, by potential Workers' Compensation or unemployment claims, and by liability or malpractice suits.

The worksheet Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors or Employees was developed from IRS guidance Twenty Factors of the "Common Law Test" to assist in the classification process. If there are more than one or two “Yes” answers to these questions, the individual to be engaged most likely would be classified an employee.

SUNY and other NYS employees are permitted to be compensated as an independent contractor ONLY if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The proposed contractor or lecturer is not a member of the Project Director’s own department.
  • The work to be performed will be in addition to the employee’s normal obligation.
  • Approval by the employee’s Department Chair and Dean, or Vice President is also required.

A SUNY employee must fill out and submit a SUNY Addendum Form and obtain the supervisor’s signature to indicate that these services will not interfere with their current State responsibilities.
Research Foundation employees are not eligible to perform services as an independent contractor. Work performed outside the normal obligation may qualify as extra service.

Payment for Services

In accordance with applicable federal regulations, payment for services should not be made until service has been completed. Upon completion of services, an invoice should be submitted by the Contractor.

Requests to reimburse contractors for related travel expenses, not accounted for in the established fee or rate, shall be named in advance in the contract or Independent Contractor Services Form, and require receipts and the appropriate Research Foundation requisition or travel form. Travel reimbursement payment without receipts is allowable if previously agreed upon, but is included in the consultant payment as taxable income.

When using per diem allowances, rates from the U.S. General Services Administration must be used for meals and lodging . Current IRS rates must be used for mileage.

A participant stipend is provided as non-wage compensation to an individual who is engaged in an academic training or education event, or to a person who is a subject in research involving human subjects.

Participant stipends are subject to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reporting requirements for miscellaneous income (1099 or 1042).

A participant stipend form should be completed and returned to Research, Grants and Contracts.

An honorarium is paid to a lecturer or speaker when the speaking engagement is not extensive or the lecturer does not ask for compensation. Under these circumstances the Project Director may offer to pay expenses plus an honorarium or just an honorarium.

A person cannot have both an employment relationship and an Independent Contractor relationship with the same organization. For this reason, a SUNY-paid employee who gives a SUNY-sponsored lecture would be compensated through SUNY's extra-service payroll process. Likewise, a Research Foundation employee who gives a Foundation-sponsored lecture would be compensated through the Foundation's payroll process.

SUNY Oneonta follows the SUNY policy and the Research Foundation Policies for payments of Honoraria and Extra service:

Payments of Honoraria and Extra Service

If the service provider is a . . .

Then . . .

SUNY academic or professional employee

the honorarium payment must comply with SUNY policy
Honoraria and Travel Reimbursement by University Employees.

non-SUNY service provider

Up to $2,500 - Pay as Honorarium
Over $2,500 – Pay as Independent Contractor

Research Foundation employee

an honorarium cannot be paid. Extra Service Payment may apply.

Cellular Mobile Communications Policy for Research, Grants and Contracts

Policy Statement

SUNY Oneonta permits cellular phone plan reimbursement funded by Research, Grants and Contracts under specific conditions. Basic cell phone plan costs may be covered when a plan is deemed necessary to an employee’s work under the sponsored program by the Project Director. The reimbursement of cell phone expenses made on a personal cell phone must be directly related to activities required for a sponsored program. Cell phones shall be contracted for and purchased by the employee and the appropriate amount of reimbursement determined by the Project Director. Final approval for all reimbursements is made by the Office of Research, Grants and Contracts.

On an exception basis only, Research Foundation owned cellular devices will be maintained for situations where the device is used exclusively for program-related business.

Applicability of the Policy

This policy applies to all individuals who are engaged with externally Research, Grants and Contracts funded through the Research Foundation, and who have cell phone expenses paid by externally sponsored funds.

Policy elaboration

SUNY Oneonta permits the reimbursement of cell phone expenses made on a personal cell phone for activities required for a sponsored program awarded to the university and managed by RF under the following circumstances:

The cost of the phone charges must be requested in the award budget and justified in the proposal submitted to the sponsor. If federally funded, the phone must be allowable under A-21.

The cost must be allocable such that the sponsored project to which expenses are charged must benefit from the use of the cell phone.

A phone plan is required in order to properly carry out assigned job duties.

All cellular devices that have personal usage on them must be employee-owned with no liability to SUNY Oneonta.

The allowance is for the monthly recurring costs incurred for having a cellular device and not for any equipment or activation fees.


  • The Project Director is responsible for selecting as reimbursement amount the most cost-effective phone plan that will accommodate the minutes necessary for the conduct of business related to the sponsored program.
  • A Justification Statement and verification of cost from the Project Director must accompany the Authorization form to document the reimbursement amount.
  • Reimbursement will be made upon submission of a Research Foundation purchase requisition, accompanied by the front page of the phone bill indicating the dates of service.
  • Overage costs for minutes over pre-approved plan will not be reimbursed.
  • No tax will be reimbursed.
  • Any phones contracted and paid directly by SUNY Oneonta (for work-required reasons such as Hotline phones) may only be used for business calls.

Exceptions to this policy must be addressed in writing and approved by Research, Grants and Contracts.

Direct questions related to the daily operational interpretation of this policy to the Director of Research, Grants and Contracts, Denise Straut, at


The Research Foundation for The State University of New York (RF) is the largest comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country. Click on the logo below to learn more.

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