As a professional staff member of the Office for Sponsored Research (OSR), the Contracts Officer is integrally involved in the review and analysis of complex contractual issues including the preparation, drafting, review, redlining, and negotiation of sponsored research contracts and related agreements that require advanced knowledge of University, sponsor, and Federal regulations and policy. Typically, the Contracts Officer will handle a range of research agreements sponsored by corporate and private industry, subcontracts, and associated agreements pertaining to nondisclosure, confidentiality, licensing, data use, and material transfer. All academic departments on Northwestern’s Chicago and Evanston campuses are represented and serviced.
The Contracts Officer interfaces with a number of individuals in OSR, in other Northwestern offices and departments, and outside the university. Incoming agreements and proposals may come from Senior Contract Officers in OSR, from the faculty members proposing the research, or from the entities seeking to sponsor the research. The Contracts Officer works with these individuals and coordinates compliance with the university’s Innovations and New Ventures (INVO) office, Office of Corporate Relations, Office of General Counsel, Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and others. The Contracts Officer position reports to the Associate Director for Corporate Contracts, who is ultimately responsible for the office’s contracting functionality. However, the Contracts Officer has autonomy and ownership over particular agreements, transactions, relationships, and issues.
In addition to helping to finalize and execute particular research agreements, the Contracts Officer assists the Senior Contracts Officers, the Associate Director, and the OSR Executive Director to develop metrics, best practices, reporting tools, and templates for improving the efficiency of OSR’s contracting. The Contracts Officer works with the Senior Contracts Officers and the Associate Director on training and education efforts, professional development, increasing OSR’s visibility on and off campus, and furthering the mission and research goals of Northwestern.
Contract and Grant Negotiation and Acceptance
Craft various complex contracts, subcontracts, and other legal documents.
Negotiate terms and conditions for industry basic, applied and development research contracts, master research agreements, material transfer agreements, confidentiality agreements, letters of indemnification, novation agreements for sponsored projects, termination agreements for sponsored projects, subcontract agreements for sponsored projects, and other award instruments. In this capacity, Contracts Officer assumes responsibility for differentiating between negotiable positions and absolute requirements.
Develop knowledge base of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and analyze proposed subcontracts to determine whether clauses in the prime agreement should properly flow down to Northwestern and, if not, negotiate such revisions or waivers with the other party.
Conduct comprehensive analyses of provisions regarding intellectual property ownership and licensing, publication and confidentiality, liability, indemnification, warranty, export control, choice of law, scope of work, deliverables, and budgeting.
Conduct negotiations to ensure an appropriate balance between the needs of the sponsor with those of the PI and the University. Clearly and concisely convey University positions and the rationale for these positions to sponsors while working to maintain good sponsor relations.
Identify issues during research negotiations in which Northwestern’s position and/or goals diverge from the sponsoring entity, work with Senior Contracts Officers and Associate Director, as appropriate, to favorably resolve those issues, and assist with alerting more senior management when resolution is not able to be reached in a timely manner or when there are issues that are broad-based or potentially applicable to or problematic in other situations.
Solicit input from PIs and other central administrative offices, such as IRB, ACUC, INVO, ASRSP, General Counsel, and Risk Management as appropriate.
Advise PIs and their staff of unusual or problematic terms and coordinate plans of action and keep informed of negotiation process.
Work with Grants Officers, Coordinators and Assistants to ensure that each sponsored project has the appropriate University approvals for human subject research, animal use, and if applicable, indirect cost waivers prior to execution.
Agency and Industry Liaison
Maintain ongoing liaison with funding entity personnel to enhance ongoing research relationship.
Monitor proposed and imposed modifications in sponsor regulations, requirements, and policies.
Assist Associate Director in providing university management with critical analyses of these changes and or analyze potential impact to the University, alternative responses, and implementation strategies.
Represent the University during sponsor site visits if requested.
Assist auditors when performing audits by providing requested information and appropriate responses to questions, and coordinating responses with ASRSP personnel.
Proposal Review and Submission
Provide support to investigators and Grants Officers in the proposal review and submission process for industry-related grant proposals.
Ensure that proposals and terms of award adhere to University, agency, and federally mandated requirements.
Training, Professional Development, and Other Duties
Work with OSR management team and other central and University units to develop training programs and materials on sponsored research related topics such as working with industry, patents and intellectual property.
Assist in education and training meetings, specialized training seminars, and staff professional development and participate actively in staff meetings and departmental working groups.
Participate actively in national and regional research administration organizations and activities, with an emphasis on continuously enhancing job knowledge and skills.
Represent OSR on OSR, OR, University, regional or national committees and working groups.
A Bachelor’s Degree and Juris Doctor from an accredited institution;
Licensed to practice law in at least one state in good standing.
Experience negotiating government and non-profit agreements, and negotiating industry contracts.
Management and professional experience, business acumen, judgment and integrity to effectively serve investigators and sponsors, while continuously advancing the best interests of the University.
Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities.)
Working knowledge of federal and international regulatory requirements and guidelines involving research
Demonstrated knowledge of generally accepted contracting and subcontracting practices.
Demonstrated knowledge of grant and contract administration for industry-funded projects.
Demonstrated knowledge of intellectual property law, including patents and copyright and the technical issues affecting protection, use, and licensing of intellectual property.
Basic understanding of core contracting principles for educational institutions.
Ability to read statements of work, and other sponsor or investigator-provided study documentation and sufficiently understand the research in order to elucidate potential contractual or regulatory issues.
Demonstrated knowledge of indemnification and liability issues.
Demonstrated understanding of issues affecting publication.
Working knowledge of FAR clauses applicable to agreements with educational institutions.
Knowledge of general management principles and practices, skill in dealing with others in work relationships involving mentoring, teamwork, conflict resolutions, and the ability to make difficult decisions.
Excellent oral and written communication skills.
Ability to work efficiently and effectively under deadline pressures.
Ability to effectively work with and deal with difficult people.
Ability to efficiently and effectively manage multiple projects simultaneously.
Strong service orientation.
Licensed to practice law in Illinois.
0-1+ years’ experience as an attorney focused on transactional and/or litigation matters.
Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.
Internal Number: 35135
About Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a major private research university with 12 academic divisions located on three campuses in Evanston, Chicago, and Education City in Doha, Qatar. We have approximately 2,500 full-time faculty members, 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and over 5,700 full and part-time staff. Northwestern University combines innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative environment. It provides students and faculty exceptional opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth.