The Contracting Process
There is a process to follow in order to complete a university contract. Read on to learn about submitting a contract for review, getting it signed properly and maintaining contract files.
Before you submit a contract for review, your department must ensure that it complies with university and/or divisional policies and procedures. This includes having the contract reviewed by appropriate subject matter experts.
Refer to the Subject Matter Experts for Contract Review Chart for guidance on which university areas may need to review contracts with certain provisions or subject matters. No university contract may be executed until it has been reviewed and approved by units that are impacted by the terms and conditions and/or obligations of the contract. No internal draft of a university contract should be shared with an external party until all applicable university approvals have been received.
In addition, please be aware that the legal review of contracts by the Office of General Counsel determines only the legal sufficiency of a contract. It is your department's responsibility to determine if the contract is appropriate and advisable from a business and/or administrative perspective.
Follow these steps to submit a contract for Procurement Services and Contract Management or Office of General Counsel review:
- Determine if you have a procurement contract or a non-procurement contract. See types of contracts for guidance.
- If it is a procurement contract, follow the normal process for submitting a procurement contract for review. Contact Procurement Services and Contract Management with any questions pertaining to the procurement contract submission process.
If it is a non-procurement contract, fill out the Non-procurement Contract Review Request Form. If the non-procurement contract is routinely handled by another university unit (such as Sponsored Programs Administration, Technology Transfer or Events and Conference Services), please contact that department for assistance instead of filling out the form. If you fill out the form for a procurement contract or non-procurement contract that should be submitted to a different university unit, your request will be closed and you will need to submit your request to the appropriate department.
If you need assistance with the classification of your contract, please contact Procurement Services and Contract Management or the Office of General Counsel for guidance.
- Submit the contract review request form online. Requests sent any other way will not be accepted, unless approved by an Office of General Counsel attorney. If you are completing the form on behalf of a requestor, the form must be sent to the requestor for review and submission. The requestor is the departmental representative responsible for the activity that is the subject of the contract and the business terms of the contract, as well as for ensuring the contract's compliance with university policies and procedures.
Please note the following when submitting a review request:
- The contract review request form should only be used for the initial submission of a contract for review.
- If you are including a draft of the contract, make sure it is in an editable format, such as a Word document.
- If you receive a contract from a third party in an uneditable format (e.g., PDF), please ask for the contract to be sent to you in an editable format.
- If the contract is not in an editable format, the review process may be delayed.
- If you are unable to submit the contract in an editable format, you will be asked to explain why on the form.
- If you do not have a draft contract to submit with your request, please provide as much information as possible regarding the contract on the request form. Attach any supporting documents.
- The university prefers to use university-vetted and approved language in agreements. NIU may choose to use a university-approved template or a different agreement, even if the other party submits a contract.
- If you have an urgent review request, please explain why and include the date needed on the form. "ASAP" is not acceptable in lieu of a date.
- If your contract review request relates to the renewal of an existing agreement, please confirm that it is an active agreement (i.e., the contract termination date has not passed). If the agreement has terminated, the parties will generally be required to enter into a new contract.
After the university and the other contracting party are in agreement and all applicable internal and external approvals have been received and documented, the parties must execute the contract by signing it before it can be implemented. Generally, the signature process is coordinated by the office responsible for reviewing the contract (Procurement Services and Contract Management or the Office of General Counsel) in consultation with your department.
Before a contract is routed for signature, it should be reviewed to ensure that no changes have been made to the last university-approved version of the agreement. If changes have been incorporated, the agreement must be appropriately routed for further university review before it is sent for NIU signature.
You may not sign a contract on behalf of NIU unless you hold a position that has been delegated signature authority pursuant to the OGC Contracts Procedures. The Contracting Authority Signature Delegation List (see page 8) details which positions have the authority to sign a contract on behalf of the university.
Please note the following regarding the signature process:
- The OGC Contracts Procedures do not apply to signatures or approvals for internal university processes and transactions, such as facility reservations between NIU units.
- If your position has signature authority, you must follow any applicable restrictions or guidelines within your division, college and department. Consult with your supervisor to confirm the scope of your signature authority, the responsibilities associated with such authority, and any restrictions or guidelines.
- If you sign a university contract without delegated authority, you will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. You may also be held personally liable for the contract and any damages caused to the university.
- No contract should be signed on behalf of the university unless it has undergone all required administrative review and received all necessary approvals.
Your department is responsible for maintaining fully executed copies of contracts, including any attachments and supporting documentation, in accordance with NIU's Records Retention and Administration Guidelines, as well as any contractual requirements. Your department's responsibilities also include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tracking the start and end dates of the contract.
- Ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions in the contract.
- Monitoring payments and deadlines.
- Maintaining all records pertaining to the contract.
Please direct any specific questions regarding the university contracting process or a particular contract transaction to the appropriate office.
Procurement Services and Contract Management
Office of General Counsel
Request OGC Contract Review
- Non-procurement Contract Review Request Form
- Instructions for completing Non-procurement Contract Review Request Form (PDF)
Note: this form should only be submitted for the review of a non-procurement contract generally handled by the OGC.