Subaward/Subcontract Proposal Toolkit

OSR requires a Subaward/Subcontract package at time of proposal. 

Determine Agreement Type (Subaward/Subcontract or Vendor Contract)

Uniform Guidance provides general guidance on how to determine if your agreement is a Subaward/Subcontract or vendor contract for the purpose of federal awards. The following information and the Subcontractor vs Purchase agreement Matrix will help you decide which mechanism is appropriate to use.

Subaward (Subcontract)

Handled as a collaborative research Subaward through the OSR. 

A Subaward (Subcontract) is an agreement that uses sponsored project funding to engage a collaborating institution or agency outside of UCSF to perform a specified scope of work. The scope of work may or may not include deliverables. Terms and conditions for Subaward agreements flow down from the prime award, especially when federal funding is involved. Standard subrecipient Subcontract terms and conditions incorporate the regulatory and compliance requirements of 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance).

An outgoing Subcontract under a Federal, State, or City/County contract is the proper contractual mechanism if the subcontrator must comply with the terms and conditions of the prime contract. 

Vendor Agreement

Handled as procurement through Supply Chain Management.

Outside party is responsible for providing ancillary services or goods that will support the recipient of those goods in the performance of their duties. 

 A vendor contract is appropriate when the party’s service can be described and billed according to established rates on a requisition or purchase order.


Subawards/Subcontracts bring a third party entity into UCSF’s project, and:
  1. Transfers substantive programmatic effort to the third-party entity;
    • Has a Principal Investigator
    •  The scope of work includes collaboration on the work for the UCSF award
    • Recipient is working independently to achieve their portion of the total project
  2. UCSF is required by the sponsor to flow down the requirements of the prime agreement;
  3. UCSF is required to monitor and ensure ongoing compliance with the flow down requirements by the third-party entity;
  4. Determines who is eligible to receive what financial assistance;
  5. Has its performance measured against whether the objectives of the federal program are met;
  6. Has responsibility for programmatic decision-making; and
  7. Uses the federal funds to carry out a program of the organization, as compared to providing goods and services for a program of the pass-through entity.
Contractors provide goods or services needed to complete the project, and:
  1. Constitutes “work for hire”. Does not transfer programmatic effort to the third-party entity; 
    • The third-party entity does not have a Principal Investigator
    • Contractor is providing deliverables to UCSF be used to complete the UCSF project
  2. UCSF is not required by the sponsor to flow down the requirements of the prime agreement;
  3. Provides goods and services within normal business operations;
  4. Provides similar goods and services to many different purchasers;
  5. Operates in a competitive environment;
  6. Provides goods or services that are ancillary to the operation of the Federal program; and
  7. Is not subject to compliance requirements of the Federal program.   


Guidance by Sponsor/Agreement Type