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Subrecipient vs. Vendor / Contractor vs. Consultant

Last updated: 05/03/2022 - 3:44pm

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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.

See also, the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Subrecipient vs Contractor Checklist, posted on the FDP Subaward Forms page.

(aka subaward/ subcontract)

Vendor (AKA Contractor)

External Consultant

Intra-university Consultant

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

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

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

An ASU employee whose expertise is temporarily required to perform the project.


Works collaboratively with the ASU 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 on the button below.


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/contractor’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 on the button below.

Vendor / Contractor


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 – e.g., Co-Investigator, Principal Investigator, etc

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

ASU 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 on the button below.

External Consultant


Is above and beyond the employee's regular ASU duties


Services are provided outside normal work hours


Is not named as an investigator on the project


Is not an employee of the project


Is performed for a department, center, or academic unit other than the employee's assigned department


Is performed at a remote location


If the statements above best describe your proposed agreement, click on the button below.

Intra-University Consultant


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 PNT GCO during proposal development. Should the question arise after the project is awarded, contact the assigned AMT GCO.


At proposal time, attach the following documents to the Funding Proposal site in ERA:

If the subaward was not included at proposal time, complete an ERA Award Change Request  and attach the documents included above to begin the process of securing prior sponsor approval and setting up the subaward.

If additional information or forms are needed, the assigned PNT Subawards GCO will contact the unit.

Vendor / Contractor

See the Purchasing Procedures Guide for information on how to process the vendor/contractor service needed.

External consultant

Follow the procedures outline on the Purchasing website related to retaining consultants and independent contractors.

Consultant Letter of Commitment

Intra-university consultant

Review WI-EP-130 and complete the Additional Pay Web Form prior to making a commitment to the ASU employee.

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