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Frequently Asked Questions 

Regarding Signing of Contracts, Agreements and Leases


Q: What types of contracts should be submitted for authorized signature? 
A: Any contract for product and services can be presented for processing. Exceptions are: the Director of Facility Services will review applications for permits and Standard WWU Contractor Terms & Conditions under $100,000; the Director of Human Resources and Vice President/Associate Vice President for Academic Administration will review employment contracts; and, the Director of Information Technology will review technology contracts.

Q: What is the definition of a Contract, Agreement or Lease under this Policy? 
A: A Contract, Agreement or Lease is a document signed by both the contracting party and the University which sets forth the terms and conditions agreed between them. It describes the legal relationship of the parties and sets forth the obligations of each.

Q: How long will this process take? 
A: Processing will vary based on several factors including: complexity of the contract, Contractor's acceptance of University's terms, responsiveness of the Contractor and their legal resources, and prioritization with the signing offices. If the Contractor accepts the University's standard terms and conditions and if the contract is concise and thorough, lead-time should be around four weeks.

Q: How can this process be expedited? 
A: The review and approval process cannot be diminished without affecting the integrity of the contract. However, there are things you can do to increase the efficiency of the process, including: 
~ Fill out the Approval Process form completely. Having the appropriate contact information is critical for rapid communication. 
~ Provide digital documents to Risk & Safety Management - this will produce immense efficiencies in the negotiation, editing and document generation processes. 
~ Communicate any critical dates and reasons. Contracts with financial repercussions are generally considered a first priority. 
~ Many contracts recur annually, so plan well in advance.

Q: Who can sign contracts? 
A: The University has a very strict policy regarding signature authority. Be advised that only certain individuals are authorized by the Board of Trustees to execute contracts on behalf of the University. Contractually binding the University without authorization or with prohibited terms could result in personal liability.

Q: I'm desperate to get a contract signed immediately; can I just sign it myself? 
A: No, don't gamble with personal liability or risk exposure to the University.

Q: It's only a simple contract, and I don't want to bother with the formal process or legal review. Do I still need to go through this procedure? 
A: Yes, don't gamble with personal liability or risk exposure to the University. Actually, simple contracts can be just as problematic as complex contracts due to their lack of detail and absence of liability protection for the University.

Q: When should I use Risk & Safety Management contract review? 
A: For any issue relevant to product or service contracts, including: 
~ Documents that require University authorization. Exceptions are: the Director of Facility Services will review applications for permits and Standard WWU Contractor Terms & Conditions under $100,000; the Director of Human Resources and Vice President/Associate Vice President for Academic Administration will review employment contracts; and, the Director of Information Technology will review technology contracts. 
~ Any contract changes. Most changes will require a written amendment to protect the parties from liability. Verbal changes to a contract without the proper written documentation create risk exposure. When in doubt, contact Risk & Safety Management. We're here to help.

Q: Why does it take so long to fully execute a contract or agreement? 
A: Because there are statutes, restrictions, policies and guidelines the University is obligated to follow. Also, each party to the contract has its own approval processes to consider, e.g., finance, legal, management, board and safety. However cumbersome, this process is necessary.

Q: What's the difference between a contract and an agreement? 
A: Nothing, really--the words are synonymous.

Q: What if the parties mutually agree to make changes from the original contract? For instance, time extensions and price changes? 
A: Most changes will require a written amendment to protect the parties from liability. Verbal changes to a contract without the proper written documentation create risk exposure and set a negative precedence in the event of dispute. Contact Risk & Safety Management regarding any contract changes. We're here to help.

Q: What if there are problems with the Contractor or the performance of services under contract? 
A: Contact Risk & Safety Management to help mediate and resolve the issue and to formally amend the contract or initiate termination if required.

Q: Whom do I contact for Construction or Employment contracts? 
A: For construction contracts, contact Facility Services. For employment contracts, contact Human Resources.

Last update on March 14, 2018