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Subaward Guidance

What is a Subaward?

A subaward is a legally binding agreement issued when a substantive portion of the sponsored project will be performed by a collaborating entity.

Under a subaward, the collaborating entity (subrecipient) is expected to carry out their portion of work on the sponsored project. The subrecipient's PI has control over the direction of their work and is equally responsible with the Prime Institution's PI in complying with all sponsor rules and regulations including reporting requirements.

Since the Prime institution (FAU) is responsible to the sponsor for the work of any collaborator on a project, important consideration must be taken when issuing a subaward, such as determining the appropriate type of subaward to use and the appropriate terms and conditions to include in any agreement. A risk assessment is conducted by the Prime Institution in determining the level of monitoring required under the subaward.

Subawards in Proposals

If a potential subrecipient is anticipated, the Prime institution must collect relevant documents from the potential subrecipient institution(s) for submission to the sponsor during the proposal stage, including:

  • Letter of Intent: Required of potential subrecipients during the proposal stage. This form serves as an indication of a potential research collaboration as well as confirmation that the subrecipient is prepared to make every effort to enter into an appropriate agreement, should an award be made. The letter of intent must be signed by the organization's authorized official.
  • Scope of Work: Required of the potential subrecipient in order to outline expected work to be completed. Please see SOW guidelines below for more information.
  • Budget and Budget Justification: Required of the potential subrecipient in order to categorize and justify expected costs of conducting research.
  • For federal proposals: A copy of the subrecipient's federally approved indirect cost rate agreement. If subrecipient does not have an approved rate agreement, a de minimis 10% IDC rate may be included.

Subrecipient vs. Independent Contractor (Consultant or Vendor)

It is important to know the difference between a subrecipient and an independent contractor as this may affect the F&A on a sponsored project.

A subrecipient conducts programmatic work within the research objectives of the prime award; retains programmatic control and discretion over how the work is carried out and makes independent decisions regarding how to implement the requested activities. The subrecipient may produce publishable results or intellectual property as a result of the project. The subrecipient institution must adhere to all sponsor regulations and applicable compliance requirements.

An independent contractor provides services or goods which are ancillary to the sponsored project. The independent contractor does not participate in programmatic decision-making and typically may provide professional advice or services to a project in exchange for compensation.

An independent contractor provides similar goods or services to many different purchasers or customers within its normal business operations.

Note: A subaward should never be issued to an individual.

Scope of Work Guidelines

A well-drafted Scope of work (SOW) is the key to successful and efficient subaward processing and administration. The SOW content should be carefully tailored to address how the subrecipient will contribute to the success of the prime award objectives.

The table below provides guidance on what information should be included in the scope of work:

For questions regarding subawards on sponsored projects, please contact Lori DeMartino, Proposal and Contract Administrator.



 Last Modified 2/7/18