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Subawards (Consortium Agreements) for Grants SOP

Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Some links will work for NIAID staff only.

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.


To enable grantees to collaborate with other organizations on grant-supported research.


Grantees must establish a subaward, or consortium agreement, with any outside organization that performs any of their grant-supported research activities. Normal grant purchases and fee-for-service arrangements are not considered subawards.

Each subaward must have a formal written agreement for meeting the scientific, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of a grant. In every agreement, the grantee must have a substantive role in the project.

NIH holds grantees accountable for their subawardees' research, spending, and reporting actions, which must conform to all terms and conditions of a grant award. Subaward organizations may receive funds only from the grantee. Subawardees cannot use funds from the grantee to form their own subaward agreements with other organizations—no third party or third tier subawards are allowed.

Principal Investigators

  • Ensure that subaward organizations file all required human subjects and research animal assurances, certifications, and approvals with NIH. See the following pages for more information:
  • Document all consortium agreements and commitments of resources as part of your application. This will assure peer reviewers you are ready to conduct the proposed research. Read Where to Add Consortium and Contractual Information in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
  • Include subaward information in your application's budget.
    • When applying with a modular budget, list the subaward organizations and the total costs for each organization for each year. Round to the nearest $1,000.
    • For a nonmodular budget, complete budget pages for each proposed subaward organization and submit a list of performance sites.
    • Check the funding opportunity announcement for instructions, such as whether to calculate subaward facilities and administrative costs as direct costs on your grant.
    • When submitting subaward budgets that are not active for all periods of a prime grant, list the subaward as performing 0.01 calendar months of effort with requested salary and fringe benefits of $0 for years in which the subaward is inactive. Refer to the February 26, 2015, Guide notice.
  • Approve subawardee actions that are consistent with the terms and conditions of the grant only.
  • Get prior approval from NIAID before adding a foreign subaward or a subaward that would change the scope of your research. See the Prior Approvals for Post-Award Grant Actions SOP.
  • Since NIAID will not work with the subawardee directly, you or your business official should be prepared to handle the following management responsibilities:
    • Find a budget solution if the subawardee wants more money to carry out its part of the project.
    • Answer questions from the subawardee about human subjects or animal research.
    • Report possible financial conflicts of interest to NIH. For example, report a conflict between the subawardee and a fee-for-service provider on the subaward.
    • Request prior approval from NIAID for any purchases the subawardee may incur that would indicate a change of scope. See the Prior Approvals for Post-Award Grant Actions SOP.
    • Resolve performance issues with the subawardee.

Authorized Organizational Representatives

  • Sign a formal written agreement with each subaward organization.
    • Describe how your institution will meet the scientific, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of the grant.
    • See samples at the Federal Demonstration Partnership's Subaward Agreement Forms.
  • If a subaward organization works with human subjects, make sure your and its institutional review boards have reviewed and approved the research protocols.
  • If a subaward organization works with animals, document animal research activities. Either your or your subaward organization's institutional animal care and use committee can review and approve the research protocols, but both must retain documentation.
  • Collect a DUNS number for each subawardee.
  • Report to the FFATA Subaward Reporting System information for subawards worth more than $25,000 over the course of the grant.

Program Officers

  • Review any actions that might suggest a change in scope, for example, a new subaward or change in an existing subaward.
  • Send your approval or disapproval of those actions, in writing, to the grants management specialist.
  • Do not contact a subawardee organization to discuss anything related to the parent grant. If you are contacted, refer subawardees to the grantee institution.

Grants Management Specialists

  • If you learn that a grantee does not have a signed subaward agreement with a subaward organization, do the following:
    • Inform the grantee in writing that it must immediately enter into a signed agreement.
    • Request written confirmation from the grantee that the agreement has been signed. Don't request a copy of the agreement, but if the grantee sends one anyway, make sure it includes all subaward requirements.
    • Set a deadline for responding.
  • Verify that grantees have signed agreements with foreign subawardees. Adding a foreign subaward always requires NIAID prior approval.
  • Confirm that a program officer has approved any subaward action that would cause a change in scope. Notify the grantee of approvals and disapprovals in writing.
  • See GMP's Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Consortia and Subcontracts SOP for more staff responsibilities.


Grantees with questions should contact the grants management specialist or program officer listed in the eRA Commons. For more information, see Communicating With NIAID—How to Get Help.

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


NIH Grants Policy Statement— See Section 15, Consortium Agreements

NIAID Human Subjects Resources

Animals in Research

Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators

Last Updated April 22, 2015

Last Reviewed February 04, 2015