Subrecipient, Vendor, External Consultant Determination

What category does your proposed agreement fall into?

Review the statements in each column below to help you determine which category best fits your proposed agreement.


(AKA Subaward/ Subcontract)

An entity that has agreed to work in collaboration with the USD PI to perform a substantive portion of the programmatic effort on an award.

Works collaboratively with the USD PI as a co-investigator at another entity to which funds are being passed.

Has authority to make administrative and programmatic decisions and to control the method and results of work

Has responsibility to meet all applicable sponsor requirements

Has performance measured against meeting the program objectives

Are designated senior/key personnel in the proposal-may be a Co-PI

Uses sponsor funds to carry out a program rather than provide a good or a service

Has responsibility for the end results of the research effort

Services are complex and require a scope of work and budget, billing requirements, and a deliverable schedule

The entity’s statement of work may represent an intellectually significant portion of the programmatic decision making

The entity’s work results may involve intellectual property and/or may lead to publications

Needs animal and/or human subjects approvals for its independent portion of the work

Requires a separate budget and budget justification in the application

If the statements above best describe your proposed agreement, click here.


An individual, business, or other entity which supplies products or services to the University.

Provides similar goods or services to different purchasers

Does not make program decisions or take actions that impact a program's overall success or failure

Is not subject to sponsor compliance regulations

Goods and services are ancillary to the program

Provides goods or services as part of their normal business operations

Competes with comparable entities to provide the same goods and/or services

Is not responsible for research results

There is no scope of work

Goods and services are billed according to the Vendor/Supplier’s established rates

The goods and services are secondary to the central purpose of the project

No potential for patentable or copyrightable technology to be created through project from activities of the entity

Performs services only (no analysis or discretionary judgment)

No one individual providing goods and services is identified

If the statements above best describe your proposed agreement, click here.

External Consultant (AKA Independent Contractor)

An individual or business whose expertise is required to perform the project. Services are temporary and specialized or highly technical.

An individual or business outside the project who confers with the PI regarding research objectives

Does not develop the objectives of the project

Is not responsible for the overall outcome of the project

Is not responsible in designing or developing the research

Is not responsible for conducting the research

Is not responsible for reporting the research

Is not essential toward the shape, direction, and completion of the project

Receives a fee for their services not a salary

Provides similar services to other organizations

Does not serve as senior personnel – i.e., Co-Investigator, Principal Investigator, etc.

Will not use university resources.   Provides its own work area, tools, materials, and supplies

USD defines the scope of work

Consultant determines how to accomplish the work

Is not considered an employee of the University and therefore is not eligible for workers compensation, liability coverage, or unemployment

Payment is based upon completion of specific work, rather than time worked

If the statements above best describe your proposed agreement, click here.

Note:  The role of the entity is the driving factor for determining payment method.  It is not expected that all of the characteristics will be present but a careful review should be made when determining the agreement type.  If after reviewing these characteristics you are still unsure, please contact the assigned OSP Research Administrator during proposal development. Should the question arise after the project is awarded, contact the OSP Contract Manager.