A subaward is a formal written agreement made between the University of Minnesota and another legal entity (subrecipient) to programmatic activity under a University sponsored project.
See the Subaward Processing Checklist—Department/PIs and the Subaward PI Quick Guide for additional guidance.
Characteristics of a Subaward
- A defined portion of a sponsored project is assigned to another entity
- The subrecipient assumes full responsibility, including intellectual leadership, for completing the assigned work
- Work is generally performed by the subrecipient’s personnel (including graduate students) using their resources (usually at their site)
- The subrecipient must comply with the terms and conditions of the subaward agreement, including terms flowed down from the University’s sponsor
- A subrecipient will need to obtain approvals from their IRB or IACUC if human or animal subjects are used in their portion of the work
- Subrecipient personnel might be a legitimate author or co-author of a paper written about the project
- An invention might arise from the work performed by the subrecipient
Subrecipient vs. Contractor
It is important to correctly determining whether an entity should be considered a subrecipient or a contractor, so that the appropriate terms and conditions are applied and budget calculations are performed accurately.
A subaward is likely appropriate if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions:
- Does the entity’s scope of work represent an intellectually significant portion of the programmatic effort of the overall project?
- Does the entity have responsibility for programmatic decision making?
- Could the entity’s work result in intellectual property developed or publishable results (including co-authorship)?
- Will the entity need animal and/or human subjects approval for its portion of the work?
Conversely, an entity would be considered a contractor if they provide goods or services within normal business operations to many different purchasers and operates in a competitive environment.
For additional guidance on determining if work conducted by an institution or organization outside of the University should be procured under a subaward or a different mechanism, such as a Contract for Professional Services, see FDP Checklist to Determine Subrecipient or Contractor Classification. Services not requiring a subaward are covered by the financial policy on Purchasing a Professional Service.
Contact your project's SPA grant administrator for additional guidance.