Award ManagementContracts and SubawardsProposal Development for AdministratorsProposal Development for Faculty

Distinguish Between Subaward, Vendor, and Consultant


The agreement to an eligible subrecipient made under a grant or cooperative agreement to carry out a research project.

  • Performance is measured against its portion of the scope of work of the Washington University prime grant;
  • Has responsibility for programmatic decision making; Uses the funds to carry out a research scope of work under the direction of the PI as compared to providing goods or services for a program;
  • Is responsible for adhering to applicable program compliance requirements (i.e., OMB Circulars, agency regulations, etc.); and
  • Subawardee’s PI may be a co-author on publications or may seek patent protection for inventions.


A term used to refer to the subagreement when the prime award is a contract.


  • Provides the goods or services within normal business operations;
  • Provides similar goods or services to many different purchasers;
  • Operates in a competitive environment;
  • Provides goods or services that are ancillary to the operation of the research project; and
  • Are not subject to monitoring or reporting requirements of the prime award.


Categorized as a vendor-type relationship. An individual or company retained to provide professional advice or services on a project for a fee.

  • A company or an individual who is clearly a bona fide consultant (expert advisor) who pursues this line of business for him/herself.
  • Is paid for their time at a daily or hourly fixed rate.
  • A consultant is considered a “work for hire” thus all intellectual property and copyrightable information is assigned to Washington University.

Download the Checklist to Distinguish between a Subrecipient or Contractor / Vendor / Consultant Classification (PDF).