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Choosing the Correct Form in the PantherExpress System

Services Agreements

Most services purchases should be entered into the PantherExpress System using the Service Agreement specialty form. Use the Services Agreement Checklist to help you complete this process. The form must be submitted and approved before any payments can be processed. To process payments, attach a copy of the invoice into the PantherExpress System against the approved form and enter the invoice data.

Services Agreements for Sponsored Research Projects

Under sponsored research projects, different administrative and audit requirements exist for subrecipients (financial assistance) and vendors (procurement actions). Because of these differences, University agreements must be administered by either the Office of Sponsored Programs or Purchasing Services. Review the following information to determine the third-party relationship and which of these two offices should handle the agreement.

Office of Sponsored Programs vs. Purchasing Services

The Office of Sponsored Programs is responsible for issuing subawards from prime agreements (contract, grant, or cooperative agreement) awarded to the University. Purchasing Services is responsible for issuing service agreements for goods and services from contractors. 

The following table and the Uniform Guidance §200.330 outlines the differences between subrecipients and suppliers:

Subrecipient Relationship

Office of Sponsored Programs manages agreements with subrecipients

Supplier Relationship

Purchasing Services manages agreements with suppliers (contractors)

Subawards - Issued by Office of Sponsored Programs

  • Performs substantive, programmatic work in an intellectually significant way
  • Has an identified Principal Investigator (PI) who serves as the Pitt co-investigator on an externally-funded award
  • Responsible for adherence to terms and conditions flowed down from Pitt's external sponsor
  • Performs work that may result in intellectual property development or publishable results, including co-authorship

Services Agreements or Purchase Orders - Issued by Purchasing Services

  • Performs specific services ancillary to the operation of the sponsored project
  • Does not have much or any independent decision making for design and implementation of the sponsored project
  • Responsible for deliverables, that if not satisfactorily completed, may result in withholding of payment or requirement to redo the work
  • Has no expectation of retaining intellectual property or authoring/co-authoring publications

Uniform Guidance §_200.330(a) states that:

A subaward is for the purpose of carrying out a portion of a federal award and creates a federal assistance relationship with the subrecipient. 

Characteristics that support the classification of the non-federal entity as a subrecipient include whom the non-federal entity:

  • Determines who is eligible to receive which type of federal assistance.
  • Has its performance measured in relation to whether the objectives of the federal program are met.
  • Has responsibility for programmatic decision making.
  • Is responsible for adherence to applicable federal program requirements specified in the federal award.
  • Uses the federal funds to carry out a program of the organization as compared to providing goods and services for a program of the pass-through entity.

Uniform Guidance §_200.330(b) states that:

A contract is for the purpose of obtaining goods and services for the non-federal entity’s own use and creates a procurement relationship with the contractor.

Characteristics indicative of a procurement relationship between the non-federal entity and a contractor are when the contractor: 

  • Provides goods and services within normal business operations.
  • Provides similar goods and services to many different purchasers.
  • Normally operates in a competitive environment.
  • Provides goods or services that are ancillary to the operation of the federal program.
  • Is not subject to compliance requirements of the federal program.
Initiating a Request for a New Subaward or Services Agreement

If the third-party relationship has the characteristics of a subrecipient, complete the Subaward Agreement Request through the Office of Sponsored Programs.

If the third-party relationship has the characteristics of a contractor:

Dues/ Membership Form

The University Travel Card is the preferred method of payment for all purchases of dues, professional memberships, registrations, and subscriptions. If the purchaser is unable to use a University Travel Card, then this form may be used. This form does not need to be approved in the system prior to payment being processed. An invoice is automatically generated by the PantherExpress System from the data you enter in the Specialty Form. Attach a copy of the invoice you receive from the supplier when completing the form to submit for approval.

Conference and Event (C&E) Form

This form should be used to book conference space or an event that the University is hosting. More information is provided in the Conferences and Events Agreements section. The form must be submitted and approved before any payments can be processed. To process payments, attach a copy of the invoice into the PantherExpress System against the approved form and enter the invoice data.

Other Payment Request

This form should be used sparingly and only if no other category of form is appropriate. This form does not need to be approved in the system prior to payment being processed. An invoice is automatically generated by the PantherExpress System from the data you enter in the Specialty Form. Attach a copy of the invoice you receive from the supplier when completing the form to submit for approval.

Refund Payment Request

This form should only be used to issue a refund due to overpayment. This form does not need to be approved in the system prior to payment being processed. An invoice is automatically generated by the PantherExpress System from the data you enter in the Specialty Form. Attach a copy of the invoice you receive from the supplier when completing the form to submit for approval.

Research Sub Contract

This form should be used when the service purchase is part of a research sub contract. The form must be submitted and approved before any payments can be processed. To process payments, attach a copy of the invoice into the PantherExpress System against the approved form and enter the invoice data.

Supplier Provided Agreement

This form should be used when the service agreement uses a supplier-provided form, agreement, or contract instead of one drafted by the University of Pittsburgh. The form must be submitted and approved before any payments can be processed. To process payments, attach a copy of the invoice into the PantherExpress System against the approved form and enter the invoice data.