Contract FAQs

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Contract FAQs

Responsible Office
Several different offices at Lehigh are responsible for contracts. Which one can assist?
  • The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) provides assistance to faculty and staff in obtaining and managing sponsored awards that support research activities.
  • The Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) oversees the management of Lehigh’s intellectual property and licensing of such intellectual property.
  • Purchasing Services is responsible for the purchase of goods and services at Lehigh.
Contract Parties

In a contract between Lehigh and a corporate sponsor, is the Principal Investigator considered a party to the contract?

No.  The contract is between Lehigh and the corporate sponsor.  The Principal Investigator should sign the contract only to signify that s/he acknowledges and understands their obligations under the contract and agrees to use reasonable efforts to uphold their obligations as a faculty member of Lehigh.

No faculty or staff member should sign any contract document unless instructed to do so by their ORSP representative.

F&A Rate

Potential corporate sponsors often seem reluctant to pay for the appropriate Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rates, which could put a research proposal in jeopardy. What should potential sponsors know about Lehigh’s F&A rate?

F&A costs at Lehigh are part of the true costs of research that must be fully reimbursed by the Sponsor. F&A costs are neither “profit” nor a “tax”.  Commercial sponsors are well aware of these costs; analogous costs of the Sponsors are generally higher than F&A costs at the University. Acceptance of a Sponsored Research Agreement without full compensation of the University’s F&A costs places Lehigh at risk by providing research for amounts lower that its true costs so, in essence, the University is subsidizing a for-profit commercial organization, a violation of IRS regulations. In addition, use of F&A rates lower than those charged to the federal government may be seen as benefiting private companies at the expense of the government.

Gift vs. Sponsored Award

Is the external funding to Lehigh a gift or a sponsored award?

A sponsored award binds Lehigh to a set of specific terms and conditions and may involve a related reciprocal transfer of something of value to the sponsor.  A gift is any item of value given to Lehigh by a donor who expects nothing significant of value in return, other than recognition and disposition of the gift in accordance with the donor’s wishes.  The proper classification of external funding is important for tax purposes as well as internal policies. 


What is indemnification and why is it such an important term in contracts?

Indemnification is a contractual agreement to reimburse someone for specific losses. Indemnification arises in contracts for sponsored research, clinical studies, material transfer  agreements, and licensing of intellectual property.  Generally, a sponsor should agree to defend and indemnify Lehigh from claims or liabilities arising from the research, except those arising from the University’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Intellectual Property

How does Lehigh handle intellectual property developed in the conduct of a contract?

The standard policy is that Lehigh owns intellectual property (IP) created under contracts for sponsored research.  This is consistent with federal research funding laws.


Does a sponsor have the right to approve publications resulting from the conduct of a sponsored research agreement?

No. While sponsors have the right to review the proposed publication in order to ensure that no confidential or patentable information is disclosed without their approval, sponsors do not have the authority to restrict publication.  Freedom to publish is essential to the fulfillment of Lehigh’s academic mission to disseminate the findings of research. Lehigh reserves for the Principal Investigator in research agreements the sole and exclusive right to freely publish scientific findings resulting from the Principal Investigators research.