GUIDELINES TO THE PROVISION OF CONSULTANCY SERVICES BY THE SRU
The provision of Consultancy Services to private business and other entities is one of the mechanisms by which the Seismic Research Unit is able to secure additional resources to complement its regular budget. It is also one of the major ways in which the region can benefit from the extensive experience in geosciences (e.g. seismology, volcanology) which resides with the Unit and which should be brought to bear on regional issues. The provision of Consultancy Services is therefore an important example of an activity through which the University can promote and support productive interactions with industry.
The University of the West Indies Consultancy Policy
The provision of Consultancy Services by the Seismic Research Unit is governed the rules for Consultancy provided in the document “Rules for Academic and Senior Administrative Staff” approved by the Finance and General Purposes Committee in October 1999 which provides the following guidelines:
Consultancy Rule #38 – Definition of Consultancy states that for the purposes of these regulations, consulting by a staff member shall include all activities that are conducted on behalf of persons or bodies outside the University that fall into the area of competence related to the staff members regular academic duties in the University, and that are not part of grants and agreements between the University and outside person or bodies.
Consultancy Rule #41 – Payment into Departmental account
Members of staff shall pay by August 1st of each year, not less than 15% of the net earnings made in the previous twelve months, together with an appropriate payment, where applicable, to the fund or relevant departmental account for the use of the Facilities/Department’s equipment, materials and services.
A member of staff is free to make additional contributions to the Fund on a voluntary basis. The cost of administering the Fund shall be borne by the Fund.
Consultancy Rule #43- Disbursements from the Fund states disbursements from the fund shall be used for the following purposes:
a) Travelling to conferences and other research activities
b) Payment of journals of learned societies, provided that such journals become the property of the University
c) Payment of membership fees to professional societies, provided that the particular membership is in the best interest of the Department
d) Reasonable travel in connection with consultations
e) Professional insurance for members of the University staff
f) Honoraria for special services in connection with research
Consultancy Rule #44 – Reporting obligations
Staff members shall report annually on their consulting activities. Such reports shall set forth the time spent, the distribution of the consulting activities through the year, the nature of the work, the allocation of time between the public and private sectors and the identity of the clients. However, the names of clients or sponsors in situations where established professional secrecy or discretion normally prevail, will not be reported
The reports shall also include other information such as details on frequent travel, ethical issues and periods of intense activity which may have affected the staff member’s academic duties, which may be relevant to an evaluation as to whether the consulting has been of overall benefit to the University. In addition, the individual Faculties may, by resolution of Faculty Boards require additional information.
Types of Consultancy at Seismic Research Unit
The SRU does consultancy of various kinds, mostly revolving around expertise in geology, geophysics, volcanology, seismology. The most frequent request for expert advice has been from insurance companies who usually require information on the incidence, specific characteristics and possible impact (i.e. damage) of earthquakes. Requests have also been received from oil companies or other companies doing exploration work in the Caribbean region. They often require a summary of existing seismic data in a particular area and comment with regards the seismic hazard. On some occasions they request a full seismic hazard assessment of a particular region/area. Another type of request has come from private companies doing geological investigations in the Eastern Caribbean islands and who usually require information on the general geology of specific islands or parts of islands.
Other consultancy requests are for a variety of issues ranging from field assessment of geological hazards, geological field reports on specific areas especially with respect to usage of earth materials for particular operations; assistance with staffing of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, participation in various scientific committees or advisory boards and providing expert advise to island governments on a variety of geoscience-related matters.
Administration of Consultancy
Any request for the consultancy services of the Seismic Research Unit should be done through completion of the “Request for Services” form . All requests will be acknowledged promptly, terms of reference/scope of the services agreed to and a draft contract sent to the client within one week of receiving the request. The draft contract will include an estimate of the costs of the services to be provided and of the time taken to delivery of final reports or other products identified in the Consultancy Agreement. Depending on the scale and scope of the consultancy a detailed agreement may not be necessary but the client will be required to agree on possible charges prior to the start of the work.
Calculation of Charges
The costs of Consultancy Services provided by the SRU will consist of the following charges:
- Professional Fee: This is the costs of the professional services provide by the member (s) of staff at the SRU who will be involved in the work described in the Consultancy. The minimum
cost of SRU professional staff is 60US$/hour or 500US$/day depending on the length and scope of the project.
- Expenses: This will include any expenses incurred in providing the services requested including travel, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses required to complete the tasks requested. Such costs will be accompanied by proof of payment to the client.
- Administration Fee: This is a standard amount of 10% of the professional fee and caters for such costs as negotiation and preparation of contracts, report writing, logistics support, use of the common facilities of the Unit and any other support charges necessary to complete the assigned tasks.
Definition of terms
Before embarking on external work for a client, it is important to distinguish between:
Consultancy work – this occurs when an outside organisation hires the services of a one or more than one member(s) of the Unit’s professional staff to undertake work that is outside the normal scope of the Unit’s operation. Such work may involve use of some of the common facilities of the Unit. The expectation is that the consultancy work will help the client solve technical or other problems that are specific to their business and to which they would otherwise be unable to access the type of professional services available at the Unit. The work will usually have a relatively short timeframe (a few weeks or months), and always has clear and well-defined deliverables. The client would normally be expected to own the results of the work/product that results from the consultancy.
Collaborative research – this is externally-funded academic/scientific research activity based in the University, and using University resources such as scientific equipment, workshops, laboratories, technical and administrative support staff, and one or more researchers. The expectation is that scientific understanding will be furthered, or that new conceptual ideas and inventions will be created, although the actual outcomes of the work will not be known in advance. Collaborative research of this type is part of the University's core activities, and the contractual arrangements are handled through the Seismic Research Unit by the Head, Dr. Richard Robertson. Depending on the extent to which UWI resources are used in the collaboration, the results of the work will be solely or jointly owed by the UWI. Any use of SRU data in the collaboration will involve signing of a data licence.
Conflicts of interest & commitment
Arrangements that might result in your obligations to different parties conflicting should be avoided. No formal limit is placed on the amount of external consultancy work that staff is allowed to undertake but work involving substantial amounts of time away from the normal responsibilities of staff must be carefully considered and will require the approval of the Head of Department.
An accurate and detailed work schedule detailing the services and deliverables to be provided to the client will help considerably to manage the expectations of both parties, and to reduce the risk of misunderstandings or disputes.
The work schedule will specify as precisely as possible the nature and extent of the work that will be carried out, the deliverable outputs (reports, presentations, results etc.) that are expected, and an indication of the amount of working time that will be needed. The services and deliverables work schedule will become part of the contract with the client organisation.
Once the work is completed, or as agreed with the client, the SRU will invoice the client accordingly. All payments are expected to be made within 2 weeks of the invoice being received.
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