Subrecipient Monitoring and Management: Setting Expectations

Posted by Timothy Tiernan on Aug 27, 2013 3:00:00 AM

eCivis grant managers weigh in on the topic of subrecipient monitoring and reporting issuesYou've been awarded that federal grant after an application process that left your team with a few more gray hairs. (If it wasn't the application itself, it was You deserve some boasting time. 

Now, as you know, an award also signifies the beginning of the grants management process. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of grants management is managing at the subrecipient level, where grant dollars are passed through to an entity such as a community organization. It can be a difficult management process because the subrecipient must follow federal grant requirements like the primary recipient, and there must be sufficient documentation showing how the funding is used.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done, with many recipients not knowing how their subrecipients are using federal funding and many subrecipients not properly documenting how federal rules are being met.

With this in mind, I asked our Grants Professional Services grant managers for their "best practices perspective" on this topic. Below are a few responses I received. These form the first part of this series, Setting Expectations. In the next part, I'll look at more specifics from our experts. Here's what they said:

"Absolutely clear roles and responsibilities must be spelled out and agreed to during proposal development and writing," said Judith Killen. In particular, be clear about "issues involving funds (what funds will flow to the subrecipient and when) and the reporting schedule (information required and when from the subrecipient to develop and submit complete/compliant grant reports)."

"Keep things business-like," added Paul Oostenbrug. "Remember that the funder has requirements of recipients and subrecipients. With federal grants, there are typically flow-down requirements that you must address. You should have in place a concise process that potential subrecipients can respond to; a set of selection criteria that are consistent with your agency’s and the funder’s requirements; and a documented scope of work for the subrecipients."

Linda Gilbertson echoed Paul and Judith's points, stating, "In my experience, the best subrecipient management has to begin at the pre-application phase. This is where all expectations are set up among all parties (the funder, the recipient and all actual or potential subrecipients)." She added that, "at this point, it should be obvious whether a subrecipient is capable of performing as expected." If there are any questions about the capability of a subrecipient, this is the time to decide whether you want to use them. "Red flags should not be ignored."

What tips do you have regarding setting the right expectations for subrecipient management? What stories support your ideas? If you have any questions for our grant managers, be sure to send those our way, too. Just comment below.

May your team continue to bring in grant funding—keep it and use it well!

About eCivis

eCivis is the nation's leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving local governments' and community-based organizations' grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit For media inquiries, contact

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Grants management software allows for complete grant award management that spreadsheets like Excel cannot provide

Topics: Subrecipient Monitoring and Management, Grants Management Best Practices, Pass-Through Grants