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Using Subawards

Subawards allow another organization to perform some activities for your grant under your supervision. They enable collaborations between you—the grantee—and the subawardee. This arrangement does not involve NIAID.

You still include the details of the work in your application because the initial peer review committee needs to evaluate it (unlike a purchase contract).

Since subawards are legal agreements, your institution must draw up a physical document or consortium agreement that both organizations sign.

Funds from the grantee organization must flow directly from the grantee to the subawardee, meaning a subawardee cannot create its own subaward with a third party—a "third tier" subaward—using funds from the grantee. Think of subawards like the spokes of a wheel with the grantee in the center—a grant may have a number of subawards, but they must all be directly connected to the grantee.

Application and Budget Information

Grantees must establish a subaward with any outside organizations that perform grant-supported research activities.

For information on what to include in your application, read the Subawards (Consortium Agreements) for Grants SOP.

Managing Subawards

When it comes to managing subawards, NIAID's involvement and that of the grantee are different.

NIAID's role

NIAID's involvement in a subaward is minimal. We do not participate in establishing the terms of the subaward, nor are we responsible for enforcing adherence to those terms.

You need prior approval from NIAID to establish a new subaward after your grant has been awarded if either of the following is true:

  • The subawardee is a foreign organization.
  • The terms of the subaward would constitute a change in scope

Do not rely on your program officer and grants management specialist to communicate with your subawardee directly. NIAID staff are responsible for communicating through the primary grantee only. 

Grantee responsibilities

In managing subawards, grantees are fully responsible for the following:

  • All actions of the subaward related to the award
  • All contact with NIAID

As the grantee, you (not the subawardee) are accountable to NIAID for the performance of the research project, spending of grant funds by all parties, reporting requirements, negotiating animal and human subjects assurances, and other obligations for the grant.

You and the subawardee are responsible for solving disagreements. The signed agreement is paramount—it should be the source for resolving conflicts.

When you write a subaward agreement, be sure to define expectations clearly and include a mechanism for settling disputes.

Keep the following in mind:

  • You still need to play a substantive role in the research; you cannot just pass along funds to another institution.
  • If we need information from your subawardees, we will contact you.
  • If there's a problem with a subawardee, we will expect you to take care of it.
  • You can add a subaward to your project anytime.

If you decide to work with consultants or collaborators, learn about Letters of Support.

Consortium/Contractual Arrangements

If you're working closely with a subawardee from another institution, your institutions may need a formal agreement of the terms of the collaboration. Such agreements typically include a breakdown of costs, such as personnel and supplies, as well as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs.

In your application thoroughly describe what each person will be doing. Your reviewers need enough detail to be able to judge whether there is sufficient expertise to conduct the project

In the Consortium/Contractual Arrangements attachment to the PHS 398 Research Plan form, briefly describe the arrangement. State the roles of the people and organizations involved.

Do not include the text of the formal agreement itself in your application, your letters of support or your just-in-time documentation. The formal agreement is for your benefit. NIH does not request, use, or need a copy of it.

As part of your just-in-time documentation before award, we will ask you to provide a copy of the F&A rate agreement that the consortium/subaward organization established with DHHS. Learn more at Responding to Pre-Award Requests ("Just-in-Time").

Letters of Support

These letters describe your team’s willingness to participate and specify their roles in your project. Clearly describe what type of support your collaborators will provide, e.g., reagents, animals, human samples, or technology. Learn more and find advice at Letters of Support.

Biographical Sketches

These are required for all key personnel and other significant contributors. Attach them to the Research and Related Senior/Key Person Profile form. Learn more at Create Biosketches.

Budget Form

Provide each subaward's Unique Entity ID (UEI) number, and make sure information in the subaward budget form matches that in the Research Strategy. The budget periods of the subaward, whether active or not, must always align with the budget periods of the prime grant.

For the consortium justification in a modular application, use the PHS 398 Modular Budget form. For nonmodular, use the R&R Subaward Budget in the Research and Related Budget Component. Follow the SF 424 Application Instructions.

Find advice on how to Plan Your Budget and Personnel.


Have Questions?

A program officer in your area of science can give you application advice, NIAID's perspective on your research, and confirmation that NIAID will accept your application.

Find contacts and instructions at When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer.

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