Last updated on September 1, 2016


A subaward is a formal legal agreement between the Regents of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and another organization (Subrecipient). This agreement is used when a substantive portion of the programmatic work outlined in a UCSF proposal is conducted at another organization. Commonly, the other organization is another education or research institution, but can be any organization outside the University, domestic or foreign. The subrecipient takes full responsibility for adhering to the terms and conditions of the subaward including those flowed down from UCSF's sponsor under the Prime award. 

Planning and Issuing Subawards

It is the responsibility of UCSF to ensure the appropriate classification of costs at the time a proposal is submitted to the sponsor.  The PI must provide sufficient information about the proposed arrangement to the RSC preparing the proposal in order for the appropriate classification to be made.  Key characteristics of a subaward include:

  • The subrecipient’s performance is measured against whether the objectives of the overall sponsored program are met (subrecipient carries out a portion of the programmatic effort of the project).
  • The subrecipient is responsible for programmatic decision making relative to the subrecipient’s portion of the work.
  • The subrecipient must adhere to sponsored compliance requirements (IRB, IACUC, rebudgeting restrictions, publication, IP rights).
  • The subrecipient must use the sponsored funds awarded under the subaward to carry out their portion of the programmatic effort of the project.


As a reference tool, the Subcontractor or Purchase Agreement Matrix provides guidance about making this determination.  Note that it is critical for this determination to be correct at the time of proposal in order to ensure accurate pricing and efficient subaward issuance at time of award.

Services not requiring a subaward are covered by Supply Chain Management (formerly Procurement).

Required Documents

The Subaward Proposal Toolkit includes templates and samples of the documents required by Research Management Services at the time of proposal.

The Set-up Subawards page includes instructions for requesting a subaward after the Prime Award has been recieved.