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Southern Oregon University


 Note: All contracts must be signed by the appropriate contract authority before services begin.

Definition of a Contract
Role of the Contracts Officer
Role of the Department
Responsibility of Signature Authority 

Definition of a Contract
Contracts are designed to provide written elements describing agreements made between two or more parties:

  • The contract is a set of promises to do or not do something; it is usually a promise to exchange goods or services.
  • The university may pay an expense, receive income; however, zero funds might change hands between the parties.
  • Contracts are also known as agreement, memos of understanding, cooperative agreements, interagency agreements, purchase orders, personal/professional services contracts, etc.
  • Grants and research contracts are a specific type of contract managed by Deborah d'Este Hofer in the Office of Grants and Human Subjects Administration (see www.sou.edu/grants).

All contracts must be signed by the appropriate contract authority before services begin. Once signed by all parties, the document becomes legally binding.

The contracts officer relies on the originating department for detailed, supportive information. In order to develop an adequate contract, the following information must be present:

  • Scope of the work to be covered
  • The cost or consideration, including payment terms
  • Duration of the contract, including beginning and ending dates
  • Termination rights.

Role of the Contracts Officer
The contracts officer carries out the following activities:

  1. Provides assistance with contract draft and negotiations.
  2. Monitors for expiration, renewal, and amendment.
  3. Reviews/modifies contract language to ensure it meets OUS/State guidelines and laws.
  4. Reviews contract from a business perspective, ensuring it is in the best interest of SOU.
  5. Identifies/coordinates all necessary signatures for the contract.
  6. Assesses risk associated with a contract.
  7. Facilitates recording and receiving income.
  8. Issues, receives, monitors, and interprets certificates of insurance.
  9. Consults with legal staff as needed regarding contract issues.
  10. Reports contracts to the Department of Justice, Department of Administrative Services, and the Oregon University as required by law or policy.
  11. Coordinates legal sufficiency review of contracts with the attorney general's office.
  12. Ensures feasibility studies and reporting are conducted as required by the OPEU contract.

Role of the Department
Once a contract is signed by the appropriate parties, the administration of the contract falls to the department.

It is the department's responsibility to ensure the following:

  • payments are made/received as required
  • performance/goods meet the requirements of the contract
  • restrictions are not violated
  • department complies with departmental requirements of the contract
  • contracts officer is notified if department has problems with the contractor in carrying out the intent of the contract.

Responsibility of Signature Authority
An individual with signature authority (Contract Signature Authority Structure) who approves any transaction that constitutes a commitment between the university and a non university party is responsible and accountable for ensuring the following:

  1. He or she has the authority to approve the transaction or execute a contract.
  2. Where required, institutional review and approval has been obtained before any commitment is made.
  3. The transaction conforms with all university policies.
  4. Funds for the transaction have been allocated or are otherwise available within a regularly approved budgets, special appropriation, or restricted or designated accounts.
  5. No real or apparent conflict of interest exists on the part of the approving individual or any other individual or organization involved in the transaction.
  6. No signatures other than those officially designated are representing the university during the process of finalizing the contract. Unauthorized persons signing contract documents on behalf of the university may expect the agreement to be rejected and may be assessed personal financial liability.