Vendor or Subrecipient

A sponsored project may include relationships with contractors, consultants, and subrecipients.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), as the pass-through entity (prime applicant or awardee), holds  responsibility for deciding whether an arrangement constitutes a subaward (carrying out an intellectually significant portion of the award) or a procurement (obtaining goods and services, creating a vendor relationship).

This determination is made at the time of proposal and is reviewed and confirmed prior to the subaward or procurement being initiated. Use the chart below to guide the determination.

Contracting with Individuals

UMB usually does not issue subawards to individuals; a consultant agreement is issued by Procurement.

However, consulting by faculty or staff from other institutions of the University System of Maryland (USM) must conform with the USM Policy on Professional Commitment of Faculty. As a general rule, faculty or staff from other USM institutions will be paid through a subaward. They may be paid as consultants on a UMB award only with the approval of their institution's president.


  • Performs specified activities, but quantity, quality, and other characteristics of end-products or deliverables are not specified in advance; or no end-product or deliverable is required except for reports describing the supported activities.
  • Performs “substantive project work” defined as “a significant portion of the activities for which support was awarded.”
  • Provides unique services or products.
  • Has responsibility for programmatic decision-making.
  • Usually cooperates with the UMB principal investigator in developing the proposal for submission to the sponsor.
  • Is usually responsible for design or development of the supported activities.
  • Is likely to be paid on a cost-reimbursement basis (based on actual project costs incurred).
  • Subrecipient agreements are issued by Sponsored Programs Administration.



  • Meets only the requirements of the procurement contract.
  • End-products or deliverables are specified in advance with regard to quantity, quality, or other characteristics.
  • Provides the goods or services within its normal business operations.
  • Provides similar goods or services to many different purchasers.
  • Operates in a competitive environment.
  • Is likely to be paid on a fixed-price basis (for products or services delivered).
  • Involves performance of repetitive tests or activities requiring little or no discretionary judgment on the part of the provider.
  • Purchase orders are issued by Procurement Services.