Subawardee, Vendor, or Consultant?

A subaward or subcontract is an agreement which passes along funding and/or responsibility for the aims of a sponsored project to another person or institution. These are generally to other Universities, non-profit partners, or individuals. Purchase agreements for products or services offered by commercial firms (Vendors) to the wider market are not considered subawards. A third possibility is to hire a consultant, which would be an individual coming to ECU (or working from home) on their own time (not utilizing the facilities of another institution). To determine which is which, consider the following:

  • Are we funding a research process (subaward) or purchasing a clear deliverable (vendor)?
  • Can someone else contract with this partner for the same thing (vendor) or are our arrangements unique (subaward)?
  • Are we engaging an institution to conduct work in their facilities (subaward) or are we hiring an individual to work at our site or at home (consultant)?

Each of these arrangements requires a separate procedure - see below.

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Initiate New Subaward

Subawards cannot be executed until OSP has received and processed the prime award to the ECU PI. OSP cannot issue subawards against a Financial Guarantee account.

Form - New Subaward Checklist


In order for OSP to issue the subaward, the PI must fully complete and submit via email to their Grant Officer, the Subaward Checklist, a
detailed scope of work, and a budget. The scope of work and budget must be in accordance with the grant award. Incomplete checklists will be returned to the sender for completion.

OSP will create a subaward and send it to the subawardee for execution. The Subaward Checklist will be retained in RAMSeS for future use and reference.

Elements of the Scope of Work:

The Scope of Work is the section of a subaward that describes the work to be undertaken by the subrecipient, and including, but not limited to:

  • Objective, aims or purpose
  • Period of performance
  • A general description of the actions to be performed by the subcontractor and the expected results
  • A list of detailed work requirements; list tasks and what is expected; should provide both technical and performance specifications.
  • Performance, quality and timeliness requirements - this includes required or acceptable levels of performance on each specific task measured in terms of accuracy, response time, and speed.
  • Workload requirements - a description of levels or size of contractual effort.
  • Personnel requirements - minimum qualifications or skill levels expected in the contractor's staffing.
  • Government-furnished equipment and other resources to be furnished to the subcontractor.
  • Reporting requirements - describe any reports to be submitted by the contractor to show progress.

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Subaward Modifications

Form - Subaward Modification Form

Changes to the subaward must be made in writing via a subaward modification. The most common modification is the addition of a new year of funding after ECU receives a non-competing continuation from the prime sponsor. Other changes include, but are not limited to, increase/decrease in funding, extensions of time on the project, changes in the scope of work, changes in the PI or subgrantee institution or termination of the subaward. All modification must be in line with the terms and conditions of the prime award.  Depending on the nature of the modification request, prior approval from the sponsor may be required.  The ECU PI must complete the Subaward Modification Checklist and submit it to the OSP Grant Officer via email.

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Hiring a Consultant

The procedure for engaging consultants goes through the Office of Materials Management. Please reference the page linked below:

Procedure - Hiring a Consultant

For most investigators, this process will be initiated by departmental administrative personnel just as other purchases, travel reimbursments, etc.

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Purchasing Agreements

Purchasing agreements on sponsored projects are handled much as all other purchases within the University. Investigators should consult with departmental administrators just as they would for other routine purchases.

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