The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at Florida Atlantic University issues subaward agreements to various collaborating entities on a wide spectrum of sponsored research projects. Subawards are legally binding agreements between Florida Atlantic and a collaborating entity who will be performing a substantive portion of work on a sponsored project awarded to Florida Atlantic by the prime (originating) sponsor.

In a subaward, the collaborating entity (subrecipient) is expected to carry out a portion of the work on the sponsored project under the direction of the subrecipient’s principal investigator (PI). The subrecipient entity is responsible for complying with all rules and regulations, including reporting requirements and any terms and conditions that flow down from the prime sponsored award.

As the pass-thru entity on subawards issued, Florida Atlantic is ultimately responsible to the Prime Sponsor for the work of any subrecipient on a project. To reduce legal and financial risk to Florida Atlantic, important consideration must be taken when issuing a subaward, such as determining the proper type of subaward agreement and the appropriate terms and conditions, including any applicable flow-down terms from the prime sponsored award.

Prior to issuing a subaward, OSP conducts a risk assessment which indicates the level of monitoring required under a subaward. Visual Compliance screening is also conducted on each individual and entity involved in a subaward project to ensure the safety and security of the sponsored research project and all participants.

Florida Atlantic is a member institution of the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), an association of federal agencies, academic research institutions, and research policy organizations that work to streamline the administration of federally sponsored research. The FDP provides subaward templates designed to expedite and streamline federal subaward review. More information may be found here.

For any questions regarding subawards, please contact

Issuing a Subaward

Once Florida Atlantic receives a prime award, any subawards that were included in the original proposal may be negotiated and executed. Please see the Subaward Workflow Chart below for a comprehensive understanding of the subaward issuing process:

Click to view the Subaward Flow Chart

When a subrecipient entity completes the subaward application, applicable compliance approvals will be collected including IRB, IBC, or IACUC protocol approvals. OSP will work with the Office of Research Integrity to ensure all subawards are compliant with all applicable rules and regulations in these areas.

Once a subaward has been drafted and both parties have approved and accepted all terms and conditions, the subaward agreement will be routed to both parties’ authorized officials for signatures. Upon execution, a copy of the subaward agreement will be provided to the Office of Research Accounting for account set-up.

Please visit the Subaward FAQs for more information.

Subawards in Proposals

If a potential subrecipient is anticipated on a research project, Florida Atlantic must collect required documentation from the potential subrecipient institution(s) as a part of the proposal submission process and for review by the Prime Sponsor:

  • Florida Atlantic’s Subrecipient Commitment Form : Required of any potential subrecipient during proposal completion. 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 (LOI) must be signed by the subrecipient’s authorized official. Signature from the subrecipient principal investigator is not sufficient.
  • 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 facilities and administrative (F&A) rate agreement is required. If subrecipient does not have an approved rate agreement, a de minimis 10% F&A rate may be included.

Subrecipient vs. Independent Contractor (Consultant or Vendor)

It is important to understand the difference between a subrecipient and an independent contractor, consultant or vendor, as this may affect the F&A on a sponsored project and audit compliance.

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 shall assign a lead investigator who will serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) at the subrecipient entity. The PI at the subrecipient entity typically commits a level of effort (salary) that is predetermined with the pass-through entity. Subrecipients may also charge other expenses in various categorical breakdown of costs, including but not limited to additional personnel, travel, equipment, materials and supplies, tuition, F&A, and other allowable costs. The subrecipient may produce publishable results or develop intellectual property derived from the project. The subrecipient institution must adhere to all regulations, flow-down terms, and applicable compliance requirements.

An independent contractor, service provider, or vendor 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.

A consultant is an individual or entity that is not affiliated with Florida Atlantic. Consultants generally offer only advice or propose solutions to problems, but they do not direct, carry out, or implement solutions. Consultants can provide general oversight, expertise, or help design a portion of a study. Consultants are compensated by an hourly rate multiplied by a pre-determined maximum number of hours.

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

For more information on this, please view the Subrecipient vs Consultant vs Service Provider chart here.


Scope of Work Guidelines

Whether Florida Atlantic is issuing or receiving a subaward, a well-drafted Scope of Work (SOW) is key to the 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:

Be sure to answer the following questions in the SOW:
WHAT is to be done? WHO is going to do it? HOW will it be done? WHEN will it be done?
  • Describe the main objectives and outcomes to be accomplished
  • Outline tasks to be completed
  • Tasks are the activities and milestones which comprise a narrative description of the spectrum of services to be rendered or work to be performed. Tasks can be structured by milestones, deliverables, or process.
  • Clearly define and separate responsibilities of the subrecipient from the prime awardee
  • Assign authority for contract administration vs. project management
  • State the cost completing the work described
  • Define how outcomes will be measured and ultimately evaluated via deliverables
  • Deliverables are the "outputs" or the "end products" of the contract and are evidence of subrecipient's requirements. Most deliverables take the form of a tangible product, such as a report or publication
  • Specify the scheduled timeframe, including deadlines for associated tasks and deliverables
  • Stipulate subrecipient submission requirements using specific dates/language
HELPFUL WRITING TIPS A well-drafted SOW should be:
  • Consistent
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Easy to revise, if needed
  • Formatted with good direction
  • Organized and categorized
  • Concise and free of repetition

Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and words that have a special meaning as much as possible, or define them in the definitions section of the subaward, and then be consistent thereafter.

HUMAN AND ANIMAL SUBJECTS: If your project will utilize human or animal subjects, include detailed information as part of the SOW identifying the animal species, procedures to be done, type of human subjects, etc. Provide details equivalent to what will be induded in the IRB or IACUC protocol. This will allow for quick and easy congruency check between the proposal project and the protocol.