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A subcontract, when Northern Kentucky University is the prime recipient, is an agreement with another institution ("subrecipient") to provide part of the research required in an original contract or grant.

If you plan to have a subcontract in your grant proposal (where NKU is the prime), you should:

  • Allocate more time than usual for internal proposal review; 
  • Plan in time for the subrecipient to move their proposal through their own organization’s internal process(es);
  • Communicate with your subrecipient to ensure they provide you with all required documents for your proposal and for RGC internal process(es);
  • Be aware of the RGC routing form process and time constraints.

Please note the following, depending upon your situation:

When you are proposing to be the prime recipient of a contract or grant and Northern Kentucky University is the primary (home) institution, your subrecipient(s) must send the following to you for your proposal:

  • Subrecipient Commitment Form
  • A budget that meets the sponsor’s requirements (e.g., an itemized budget (direct and indirect costs), NIH modular budget, etc.)
  • A budget justification that meets the sponsor's requirements
  • Scope of work (SOW)
  • Certification that any necessary review process is complete or pending (human or animal subjects, recombinant DNA or pathogens)

As PI you must then submit the full proposal (including the items above from the subrecipient institution) to RGC for internal review as you would for any other proposal, along with the routing form.

Determining if you will have a Subrecipient, Contractor or Consultant

According to Uniform Guidance, the department must make a case-by-case determination as to whether a party should receive funds in the role of a subrecipient or a contractor. In determining whether an agreement between the University and a 3rd party casts the latter as a subrecipient or a contractor, the substance of the relationship is more important than the form of the agreement. The department must use judgment in classifying each as a subaward or a procurement contract and the proposal should reflect this determination.

Subrecipient Classification

A subaward issued to a subrecipient is for the purpose of carrying out a portion of a federal award. Characteristics which support this classification include the party:

  • Having its performance measured in relation to whether objectives of a federal program were met;
  • Having responsibility for programmatic decision making;
  • Being responsible for adherence to applicable federal program requirements specified in the prime award; and
  • Using the federal funds to carry out a program for a public purpose specified in statute, as opposed to providing goods or services for the benefit of the University (as the pass-through entity).

Additionally, the PI of the 3rd party should 1) be committing specified, measurable effort; 2) be using significant resources at his/her own institution; 3) budget indirect costs associated with participation in the project; and 4) have substantial involvement with the research which could result in the generation of new data, publication, and/or inventions. 

If the involvement of the 3rd party is determined to be a subrecipient, the University will issue a subaward upon receipt of the prime award and the documentation listed above.

Contractor Classification

A contract is for the purpose of obtaining goods and services for the University's own use. Characteristics indicative of a procurement relationship between the University and a contractor include the party:

  • Provides the goods and services within normal business operations;
  • Provides similar goods and services to many different purchasers;
  • Normally operates in a competitive environment;
  • Provides good or services that are ancillary to the operation of the federal program; and 
  • Is not subject to compliance requirements of the federal program as a result of the agreement, though similar requirements may apply for other reasons.

If the involvement of the 3rd party is determined to be a contractor, a fee-for-service/purchased service agreement or independent contractor services agreement will be issued.

Fee-for-Service Classification

This work typically consists of the execution of a predefined task or repetitive process, or the production of a product that meets predefined specifications. The activity, product or data collected is not expected to add to the body of fundamental knowledge of the project.

Consultant Classification 

Consultants provide expert services to funded projects from outside the University. Examples of consultants include:

  • Individuals who provide professional advice or guidance and/or talk/presentation (e.g., faculty member at another institution);
  • A company retained to provide services for a fee;
  • Individuals devoting time to a project in terms of X days/year, or X hours/day @ $X/hour x X days; and
  • A faculty member affiliated with another institution who renders services outside of his/her institutional time, commitment, and resources.

How the prime award describes consultant duties will impact the set-up process. For example, if the proposal and/or prime award makes reference to institutional resources, effort, etc. a consulting agreement would not be appropriate.