1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases
A contract is an agreement between the University and one or more other parties, creating obligations that are legally recognizable or enforceable.
The University Comptroller is the general fiscal officer of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and is authorized to approve and execute, on behalf of the Board, contracts not expressly requiring prior, specific Board authorization.
All contracts (including renewals and amendments), regardless of funding (revenue, expenditure, or no- funds), must be signed by all parties obligated by the contract. Additionally, Illinois law requires that expenditure contracts valued at $250,000 or more be approved by the President of the University and the University Counsel.
The Comptroller may delegate contract execution authority. Delegates who sign contracts on behalf of the Comptroller must have express authority to do so, unless otherwise provided for in this policy. Comptroller delegates are responsible for ensuring all required approvals are received and appropriate legal review is complete, before affixing the Comptroller's signature to a contract.
The President and University Counsel may delegate their contract approval authority. Delegates who approve contracts on behalf of the President and University Counsel must have express authority to do so, unless otherwise provided for in this policy.
The Secretary of the Board of Trustees is responsible for maintaining the central repository for University contracts. The Secretary has delegated central repository responsibilities for these contracts to the University Contract Records Office (UCRO), except for legal settlements, real estate sales and acquisitions, and certain employment agreements which are filed directly with the Secretary's office.
Faculty and staff may conduct preliminary negotiations with prospective research sponsors and prospective sponsors of revenue generating activities, in accordance with the policies of the University and the respective college/department. However, neither faculty nor staff has authority to bind the University, verbally or in writing, to a contract.
Illinois Contract System (iCS)
Illinois Contract System (iCS) is the University's electronic contract management system. Units using iCS are able to develop and route their contracts electronically, instead of in paper form.
For more information regarding iCS, including job aids, training opportunities, troubleshooting, FAQs, who to ask for help, and more, consult iCS Resources.
Contracts are initiated by the University faculty and staff best acquainted with the subject matter and responsible for the performance of the contract.
The Office of University Counsel (Counsel) must review and approve certain contracts as to legal form and validity. Counsel review may be requested for any contract (including those that may be referred to as "agreements" and "memorandums of understanding"). Counsel review should be sought when assistance is needed in evaluating a contract's required legal form and institutional legal risk. OBFS will ensure appropriate Counsel review for all contracts processed or routed through those offices.
The following contract types require documented approval from Counsel (as to legal form and validity) prior to being signed by the Comptroller (or delegate):
Contracts that require the President's approval.
Contracts to be submitted to the Board of Trustees for specific approval.
Settlements of claims or disputes.
Revenue generating healthcare contracts at the Chicago campus.
Contracts for legal services.
Contracts related to the sharing of student data with outside entities.
Employment-related contracts, such as separation agreements.
Contract Approval and Routing
The Contract Approval/Routing Form (CARF) or the electronic checklist in iCS is required to document the approval of the contract by the unit head responsible for the performance of the contract and any additional required approvals from higher level offices. These approvals are filed with the contract.
For all contracts routed in paper form, a completed CARF, with all required signatures, must be included when submitted to OBFS for the Comptroller's signature. For contracts developed and routed in iCS, approvals are obtained electronically, within the system, in lieu of signatures on a CARF. This is done through an electronic checklist in iCS. For research contracts, contact your campus sponsored programs office for routing and approval requirements.
Required signatures on the CARF (or required electronic approvals if using iCS) for campus units include:
The unit head responsible for the performance of the contract.
The dean or director of the unit for all contracts with a total dollar value of:
$25,000 or more at UIS
$50,000 or more at UIC or UIUC
The campus Chancellor/Vice President or Vice Chancellor for all contracts with a total dollar value of:
$50,000 or more at UIS
$150,000 or more at UIC and UIUC
UIC & UIUC
The dean/director approval can be delegated. The unit must maintain documentation of such delegation.
Delegation of approval is not permitted at UIS.
No-fund (or $0) agreements must be approved by the unit head and routed to the appropriate OBFS central office for processing.
The signature (or electronic approval) of the next higher level administrator for a given contract negates the need for approval(s) at a lower level. In consultation with campus chief business officers (at the Chancellor or Provost Office level), each campus OBFS chief business officer may impose more restrictive approval thresholds on individual units, as warranted.
University of Illinois System Offices Units
Required signatures on the CARF (or electronic approvals on the iCS checklist) for University of Illinois System Offices units include:
The director responsible for the performance of the contract.
The executive director or next higher level of approval for all contracts with a total value of $50,000 or more.
The Assistant Vice President or next higher level for all contracts with a total value of $150,000 or more.
The executive director approval can be delegated. Units must maintain documentation of such delegation.
No-fund (or $0) agreements must be approved by the director and routed to the appropriate OBFS central office for processing.
The signature (or electronic approval) of the next higher level administrator for a given contract negates the need for approval(s) at a lower level. In consultation with university-level executive officers, the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance (SAVP) may impose more restrictive approval thresholds on individual units, as warranted.
Final Form and Execution
Only contracts in their final form, with a fully-signed CARF (or fully approved checklist in iCS), may be submitted for the Comptroller's signature. Contracts are considered "fully executed" when they bear the signatures of all parties obligated by the contract.
Recording and Filing
All contracts, regardless of funding (revenue, expenditure, or no funds), that require the Comptroller's signature must be filed in iCS, unless otherwise provided for in this policy.
To meet University and State of Illinois filing requirements, units not developing and routing contracts within iCS must ensure that all fully-executed contracts, along with signed CARF (when required), are filed with the UCRO within seven calendar days after execution. For contracts developed and routed in iCS that have a State filing requirement, the OBFS buyer or coordinator must assign the final checklist task to the UCRO role.
When the following unaltered standard contract templates for under $10,000 are executed outside of iCS, units must retain a copy of the fully-executed standard contract and do not need to submit these to UCRO:
In addition, when authority has been granted to a unit to sign a unit-specific contract template of $10,000 or under, and the contract is executed outside of iCS, units must retain a copy of the fully-executed standard contract and do not need to submit these to UCRO.
Standard and Non-standard Contracts
Standard Contract Templates
OBFS and Counsel created several pre-approved ("standard") contract templates to facilitate some common business transactions. Units may use these pre-approved templates to expedite the contract process provided the terms of the contract require no alteration to the template language or legal form. These standard templates are available at Contracts Forms (links also provided below) and in iCS.
The following standard contract templates must be submitted to OBFS, along with the appropriate, fully-signed CARF, or routed via checklist in iCS, for the Comptroller's signature:
The following standard contract templates (if unaltered) do not need to be submitted to OBFS, do not require a CARF, but do require the use of a checklist if developed and routed in iCS, and may be executed by the unit head in the name of the Comptroller. The unaltered template must be printed and signed by hand. Unit heads will sign the Comptroller's name and their own name on these standard contract templates. This signature delegation is granted only to the unit head and cannot be further delegated by a unit head to another employee. In rare situations, a request for an exception can be submitted to the campus OBFS chief business officer or the AVP for Procurement Services (for procurement-related contracts). Documented approval by the campus OBFS chief business officer or the AVP for Procurement Services (for procurement-related contracts) is required for any exception.
For units that develop and route these templates in iCS, they must scan and upload the fully-executed agreement into iCS, and complete all checklist items. However, when these standard contract templates are executed outside of iCS, units must retain a copy of every fully-executed standard contract signed by the unit head in the name of the Comptroller. These do not need to be submitted to UCRO.
Note: If changes are made to a standard contract template, the contract cannot be executed by the unit head. Instead, the contract must be submitted with the appropriate, fully-signed CARF (or checklist in iCS), for the Comptroller's signature. If changes are made to the UIUC Technical Testing Services Agreement, it must be submitted with the Proposal Transmittal Form to the Office of Sponsored Programs at 1901 South First Street, Suite A, MC-685, Champaign, IL 61820.
UIUC - Technical Testing Services Agreement
A copy of the contract and a budget for the technical testing services should be sent to the Grants and Contracts Office, Post-Award Administration, 1901 S. First Street, Suite A, MC-685, Champaign, IL 61820. Testing services should not commence until there is a fully executed agreement.
Unit-specific Contract Templates
OBFS and Counsel work with individual units to create contract templates when there is a demonstrated business need. These unit-specific templates, accompanied by a fully-signed CARF (or checklist in iCS), must be submitted for the Comptroller's signature.
From time to time, the campus OBFS chief business officer or the AVP for Procurement Services (for procurement-related contracts) may authorize a unit head, or other designated employee, to execute in the name of the Comptroller, unaltered, unit-specific templates for amounts less than $10,000. Unit heads and/or designated employees will sign the Comptroller's name and their own name on these unit-specific contract templates. Units must retain a copy of all contracts executed using this authorization. The Comptroller signature delegation cannot be further delegated to another employee.
When these unit-specific contract templates (if unaltered) are developed and routed in iCS, they must be printed and signed, by hand, by the unit head or designated employee. Unit heads and/or designated employees sign the Comptroller's name and their own name on these unit-specific contract templates for less than $10,000. The contract must then be scanned and uploaded to iCS and all checklist items completed.
Units are responsible for ensuring their unit-specific templates are in compliance with University rules and policies, and correct legal form. As a best practice, units are encouraged to submit their templates to OBFS and Counsel for review and approval every two years.
Note: If changes are made to a unit-specific template, the contract cannot be executed by the unit head or designated employee. Instead, the contract must be submitted with the appropriate, fully-signed CARF (or checklist in iCS), for the Comptroller's signature.
All contracts, agreements, purchase orders, proposals, memoranda, letters of understanding, and other such documents having no Counsel-approved standard template, whether received from an outside party or created within a University unit, are considered non-standard. If a standard template is modified, it becomes a non-standard contract. The appropriate, fully-signed CARF (or checklist in iCS) must accompany every non-standard contract submitted for the Comptroller's signature.
Contract amendments are contracts. All amendments (including those to standard templates signed by a unit head) must be reviewed and routed for final signature in accordance with this policy, along with the CARF (or checklist in iCS). The University Counsel and President must approve any contract amendment that increases the value of the original contract either to or by $250,000 in a fiscal year. To expedite processing in hard copy, attach a copy of the original contract and all previous amendments.
How to Begin, and Where to Find On-going Assistance, by Contract Type
The contracting unit is primarily responsible for management and administration of its contracts. However, units must work with one or more of the following offices to ensure contracts are correctly developed, written, and submitted.
Sponsored Project Contracts
Purchase of Goods or Services
Financial Assistance and Sponsorship Payments to Outside Organizations
Units may propose financial
assistance to a non-University entity by sending the request with
detailed information to the appropriate OBFS office:
Construction/Repair of Buildings
Leases for Real Property
Revenue Generating Agreements
University-owned Intellectual Property
To Create Unit-specific Contract Templates
All Other Standard and Non-Standard Contracts
Legal Review (Required or Optional)
Illinois Contract System (iCS)
iCS Resources (information to help you develop and process contracts electronically)
UIUC Technical Testing Services Agreements
Related Policies and Procedures
1.3.1 Approval of Financial Documents
22.1 Contracts for Revenue Generating Activities
7 Purchasing - information about procuring goods and services, bid limits, the bidding process, iBuy, Banner, and P-Card requisitions.
16 Grants and Research Contracts - pre-and post-award information and campus-specific process requirements, processes, and forms.
16.4.2 Technical Testing Services Agreement (UIUC Supplement)
17 Consultants and Independent Contractors
Contract - an agreement between the University and one or more other parties, creating obligations that are legally recognizable or enforceable.
Campus OBFS Chief Business Officer -
At UIUC: Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance
At UIC: Executive Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance
At UIS: Director of Business Services
For System Offices: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance
Unit Head - a unit head is a department head or higher. Some units do not have department heads; some small colleges do not have departments. When there are only College-level offices for administration, signature should be that of the Dean or Associate Dean as "unit head."
The Board of Trustees authorizes the University Counsel and the Chief Financial Officer/Vice President/Comptroller to approve this contracting policy.
Who to Ask
Office of University Counsel
University Contract Records Office - Phone: 217-244-5427
Office of Business Development Services (OBDS)
Office of Research Services (ORS)
Grants, Contracts, and Research Administration
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)
Contract Services Office (CSO)
Last Updated: March 3, 2017 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance and University Counsel | Effective: August 5, 2013