The following sections detail the life cycle of subawards and the procedures for proposing, issuing, monitoring and closing subawards.
What is a Subaward?
A subaward is an agreement between UCI and an outside organization (“subrecipient”) that performs and carry out a portion of UCI’s sponsored project.
- Subrecipients share in programmatic decision making with UCI and work collaboratively with UCI researchers to carry out the sponsor-funded work.
- Work is generally performed by the subrecipient’s personnel using their resources.
- Subrecipients are subject to the applicable Prime Award terms and conditions as is UCI.
Successful subawards require coordination between the Principal Investigator (UCI PI), the department, and Sponsored Projects (SPA). The following sections detail the life cycle of subawards and the procedures for proposing, issuing, monitoring and closing subawards:
Outgoing Subawards under Federal Prime Sponsor: Nina Crow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Outgoing Subawards under Non-Federal Prime Sponsor (including for-profit, non-profits and local governmental entities): Wanda Seang (email@example.com)
Outgoing Subawards under State of California Prime Sponsor: Erika Blossom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subawards Mailbox: email@example.com
Roles & Responsibilities
The following is a general overview of the roles for those involved in the subaward process:
UCI Principal Investigator (PI)
- Identifies the appropriate collaborating outside organizations (not individual consultants) to serve as subrecipients under the sponsored project.
- Manages and monitors the subrecipient’s performance and spending on the project, in accordance with the subaward terms.
- Notifies SPA of any problems or issues with the subrecipient’s performance on the project.
Departmental Research Administrator
- Helps the UCI PI obtain the Subrecipient’s proposal and integrate it into UCI’s proposal submitted to the sponsor.
- Helps the UCI PI submit a request to SPA, to issue the subaward.
- Establishes a Purchase Order, for the subaward.
- Monitors the subrecipient’s spending and invoices.
- Helps the UCI PI request amendments to the subaward.
- Helps the UCI PI to close out the subaward.
Sponsored Projects (SPA), Contract and Grant Officers (C&G Officers)
- Performs an institutional review of the Subrecipient’s proposal to ensure compliance with both University’s and Sponsor’s policy.
- Ensures all required internal and sponsor’s required documentation are included in the Subrecipient’s proposal prior to endorsement.
- Corresponds with prime sponsors about any subaward-related approvals, including after-the-fact subaward approvals.
Sponsored Projects (SPA), Subaward Team
- Processes subaward requests from UCI PIs.
- Conducts subrecipient risk assessments, including participating in subaward risk assessment meetings, as needed.
- Compiles the subaward documents.
- Negotiates the subawards terms with the Subrecipients.
- Issues the fully-executed subawards.
- Processes any amendments requested by the UCI PI.
Subawards During Proposal Preparation
Complete Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination
It is important to differentiate between subrecipients and contractors before entering into an agreement with an outside organization performing a portion of UCI’s research project. This classification will determine the type of legal agreement as well as the type of monitoring required for the relationship. Misclassification may result in delays in subaward processing, as well as inclusion of incorrect facilities and administrative costs (F&A), leading to significant budgetary errors. UCI follows the requirements in the OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200), Section 200.331 to determine subrecipient or contractor status.
A subrecipient relationship may be appropriate when many of the following factors are present:
- The organization’s SOW represents a substantive and intellectually significant portion of UCI’s research project.
- The organization participates in a creative way in designing and/or conducting the research.
- The organization retains some element of programmatic control and discretion over how the work is carried out.
- The organization makes independent decisions regarding how to implement the requested activities.
- A principal investigator has been identified at the organization and functions as a “Co-Investigator.”
- There is an expectation that the organization will retain ownership rights in potentially patentable technology or products produced in the course of fulfilling its SOW.
- Publications may be created or co-authored at the organization.
- The organization assumes responsibility for adherence to applicable sponsor program compliance requirements.
A contractor relationship may be appropriate when many of the following factors are present:
- The organization is providing specified services in support of, or ancillary to, UCI’s research project.
- The organization has not significantly participated in the design of the research or project itself, but is implementing the research plan or project activities of the UCI investigator.
- The services are performed in the organization’s normal course of business and marketed to a range of customers.
- The organization makes little or no independent decision-making in the design and/or conduct of the research being completed.
- The expectation is that the work will not result in patentable technology that would be owned by the organization.
OMB Uniform Guidance allows grantees to use judgment in determining whether a relationship is that of subrecipient or contractor. Not all of the characteristics listed above will be present. Conversely, the presence of many of the characteristics is not necessarily determinative. Thus, the substance of the relationship is more important . UCI PIs are required to analyze the substance of the relationship with their subrecipients and note their recommendations by completing the Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination Form and submitting it to SPA at the proposal stage. Subrecipients are required to do the same except their recommendations are noted on the Subrecipient Statement of Collaborative Intent Form.
Determinations are made on a case-by-case basis at the proposal stage. A Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination Form is to be completed for each subrecipient. Before a proposal is submitted to an agency, SPA will make the final determination using the recommendations from the Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination Form and the Subrecipient Commitment Form as a guide.
If the final determination reveals that the organization is a contractor, the UCI PI should contact Procurement Services for further classification (i.e., an independent contractor, consultant or employee).
Obtain Subaward Documentation
Ask the subrecipient to provide: :
- Subrecipient Statement of Collaborative Intent(or MCA Commitment Form for Subawards to other UC Campuses)
- Scope of Work that includes a clear description of the work the subrecipient will perform
- Budgetand Justification that includes the subrecipient’s direct and indirect costs, calculated using the appropriate F&A and fringe benefit rates, based on the sponsor’s requirement
- Any other documents required by sponsor (i.e., certifications, assurances)
UCI is a participant in the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Expanded Clearinghouse. This public website and user system are the products of an FDP Pilot Project to test the efficacy and efficiency of using online organization profiles in lieu of subrecipient commitment forms.
If the subrecipient organization is a participating institution, only Part One of the Subrecipient Statement of Collaborative Intent should be completed by the subrecipient. If the subrecipient is a non-participating institution, both Parts One and Two must be completed by the subrecipient.
Complete Required UCI Forms
Provide the following UCI forms, as applicable:
- Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination Form
- Sole Source Justification Form for Subawards under Contracts– provide this form for each subrecipient, if the prime award will be a contract
- Mini Audit Questionnaire (if Single Audit is not available)
- Conflict of Interest Forms (if applicable)
Subrecipient Cost in UCI's Budget
The UCI PI must integrate the subrecipient’s scope of work into the proposal, and include the total amount of the subrecipient’s budget (including the subrecipient’s F&A) as a direct cost line item in the UCI budget.
When calculating the UCI budget, it is important to take into account any prime sponsor’s written policy which deviates from UCI’s federal negotiated rate and for which UCOP has issued an indirect cost waiver. While UCI's federal negotiated rate includes the first $25,000 of all subawards in its F&A base, other sponsors may have different F&A base. For example, many non-profit foundations have written policies which assess lower indirect cost rates to awards, including subawards.
Subaward Initiation and Setup
Subaward Request Form (SRF) for New Subaward
Once a fully executed prime award is received by SPA and an Award Transaction Summary issued, a Subaward Request Form (SRF) for New Subawards should be completed by the department and emailed to your subawards officer. Based on the information on the SRF, SPA will draft a subaward for the subrecipient.
If a subrecipient was not identified as a part of the prime award proposal, the award terms may require SPA to seek prior approval from the sponsor before the subaward can be issued. If prior approval is required, the UCI PI and his/her department administrator should work with their C&G officer on the prime award to request prior approval or notification of a subrecipient addition. If prior approval is not required, subaward documents can be sent directly to your subawards officer.
Compliance Checks & Subaward Agreement
Upon receipt of the SRF, SPA will conduct various compliance checks on the subrecipient including:
- Financial auditcheck based on OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CRF 200, Subpart F) or mini audit form, if the subrecipient is not subject to the Single Audit Act
- Compliance requirement checks (Export Control, Conflict of Interest, sam.gov registration, etc.)
- Compliance check for debarred/suspended entities and individuals
- Complete risk assessment of subrecipient to determine risk level
SPA will draft the subaward agreement determining the most appropriate type of agreement mechanism, flowing down all applicable prime award terms. Negotiation of the subaward terms may be necessary and may require UCI PI involvement. Upon final agreement, the agreement between UCI and the subrecipient will be fully executed and a Subaward Transaction Summary (STS) will be issued.
As the prime award recipient, UCI is responsible to ensure that sponsor funds, including those subawarded by UCI to other organizations, are spent in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. This means regular monitoring of subrecipient’s programmatic and financial activities. The subrecipient monitoring starts at the prime proposal stage and ends when a subaward is fully closed.
PI & Department Responsibilities for Monitoring Subawards
It is the UCI PI’s responsibility to monitor subrecipients so there is reasonable assurance that the subrecipient uses the award for authorized purposes, complies with laws, regulation, and the provisions of the agreement, invoices UCI for allowable expenses in accordance with the agreement, and achieves its performance goals. Although UCI PIs have primary responsibility for monitoring the above, it is understood that some responsibilities are frequently delegated to departmental staff or carried out by Contracts & Grants Accounting (C&G Accounting) or SPA.
Invoice Review and Signature
The UC PI must review the subrecipient’s invoices and indicate approval via email or by signing each invoice certifying that performance goals were met and authorizing payment.
As part of the invoice review, the UCI PI and department administrators should verify that the invoice was prepared in accordance with the subaward requirements and that invoiced costs are:
- In accordance with the approved budget
- Incurred within the approved period of performance and overall cost limitations
- Aligned in terms of cost and type of expense with the scientific/technical progress reported to date
- Allowable, allocable, and reasonable
In the event the level of detail included on an invoice is not sufficient to fully understand the costs, or if it appears that some costs may be excessive or understated, the UCI PI or department administrator should question the subrecipient’s expenditures by requesting further documentation or explanation prior to approving an invoice. Such inquiries must be done in a timely manner so that the subrecipient can be promptly paid for approved costs. Departments should contact C&G Accounting or SPA when there is concern about the allowability of cost.
Technical Progress & Compliance
The UCI PI must be in contact with the subrecipient regularly to discuss technical progress, receive and review required reports or deliverables, and verify that the subrecipient maintains up to date compliance approval and assurance (e.g., human and/or animal subjects approval) when applicable.
Initiating Subaward Amendment for Modification to Existing Subaward
During the subaward period of performance, it may be necessary to amend the terms of an existing subaward. The UCI PI can initiate an amendment by completing a Subaward Request Form (SRF) for Modification to Existing Subaward and attaching applicable documentations (e.g., revised budgets, dates, SOW) and emailing it to your subawards officer. Generally, an amendment is required for these changes:
- Increase or decrease funding
- Revisionof the subaward period of performance
- Modification or addition terms and conditions
- PI change for prime awardee or subrecipient
- Change of scope of workor budget
- Carryforward approval if prior agency approval is required
It important to note that some changes may require the prior approval of the prime sponsor before the change can be initiated to the subaward (e.g., change in scope of work, change in the subrecipient’s principal investigator, or transfer of the subaward from one recipient to another). Please work with your C&G officer on the prime award to request any prior approval.
Upon receipt and review of the completed SRF, SPA will draft the subaward amendment. Additional negotiation of the subaward terms may be necessary and may require UCI PI involvement. Once the amendment has been fully executed by both parties, a Subaward Transaction Summary (STS) email will be issued to the Principal Investigator and the department administrator listed on as the point of contact on the SRF.
All subawards should be closed out when its period of performance comes to an end, regardless of whether UCI’s prime award is ending or continuing. When feasible, it is advisable for a subaward period of performance to be slightly shorter than UCI’s to allow sufficient time for collection and review of the subrecipient’s final reports, verification of subrecipient data, and incorporation of the subrecipient’s research results into UCI’s final technical report to the prime sponsor.
UCI PIs are responsible for obtaining final technical reports and the final invoice* from their subrecipients, and retaining a copy in their project file. UCI PIs are encouraged to remind subrecipients of this need well in advance of the due date for such reports. Other final reports, including equipment forms, patent reports, and release documents may be required.
*Subrecipients are required to submit a final invoice, clearly marked “Final”, to UCI by the date that is required in the subaward agreement.
For UCI PI
- Subrecipient vs. Contractor Determination Form
- Sole Source Justification Form
- Subaward Request Form (for New Subaward)
- Subaward Request Form (for Modification to Existing Subaward)
- Multiple Campus Agreement (MCA) Commitment Form - for Subawards to other UC Campuses
- Mini-Audit Questionnaire