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Contract Services Office

Contracts Services Office Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this information is to provide guidance to university departments regarding the university's contract process.

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CONTRACT TYPES QUESTIONS

Q. What are standard templates?

A. Standard templates are pre-approved contract forms that have been created by the contract processing office and the Office of University Counsel to facilitate some common University business transactions. Units may use these standard templates to expedite the contract prcess, provided no alterations to the template language or legal form are required. Pre-approved contract templates are available on the OBFS website under OBFS Forms.

 

Q. What is a non-standard contract? How are non-standard contracts processed?

A. All contracts, agreements, purchase orders, proposals, memoranda, letters of understanding, and other such documents received from an outside party are considered non-standard. If a template that has been pre-approved by the Office of University Counsel is modified, it becomes a non-standard contract. Non-standard contracts should be submitted to the appropriate contract processing office. Review the Contract Types page of the CSO website to identify which contract processing office should process your non-standard contract. 

 

Q. Is it OK to use the other party's contract instead of a University form?

A. Whenever possible, it is the University's preference to use our internal contract forms or templates. There are situations, however, in which the other party prefers, or even insists, on using their own contract. The University will sign another party's contract, when necessary, but there are often required changes and modifications that must be made first, which could delay contract execution. For more information about contracts, see the Contract Types page. 

 

Q. How do I set up an international student exchange with a foreign institution?

A. Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago Office of International Affairs helps units start the contracting process with a foreign entity. You can contact the Office of International Affairs at oia@uic.edu or (312) 996-5455. 

A. Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield Study Away Programs helps units start the contracting process with a foreign entity. You can contact UIS Study Away Programs at intprog@uis.edu or (217) 206-8319. 

A. Urbana-Champaign

The Office of Illinois International Programs (IIP) helps units start the contracting process with a foreign entity. You can contact IIP at international@illinois.edu or via email at (217) 333-6104.

 

Q. What do I do if a filming company/filmmaker wants to film at my department?

A. Your university's Office of Public Affairs is the first point of contact. They will then loop in your university's Contract Services Office if an agreement is needed. See Location Agreements on the Contract Types page of the CSO website. 

Chicago: The Marketing and Brand Management Office under the Office of Public and Government Affairs can be reached via email at marketing@uic.edu or by phone at (312) 996-3456.

Springfield: The Office of Public Affairs can be reached via email at kgurs2@uis.edu or by phone at (217) 206-7795.

Urbana-Champaign: The Office of Public Affairs can be reached via email at publicaffairs@uillinois.edu or by phone at (217) 333-5010. 

 

Q. What are Sponsorships?

A. When the university receives a cash or non-cash payment from a third party for an event in return for access to the event or acknowledgement. The event name or title often incorporates the sponsor logos via a sponsorship contract. A payment qualifies as a sponsorship as long as the sponsor does not receive any substantial benefits in return. See OBFS Policy section 11.13.

 

Q. When does my unit need to use a Facility Use Agreement?

A. A Facility Use Agreement (FUA) would be used either when outside parties want to rent University facilities (FUA processed by CSO) or when the university rents off campus facilities for hosting an event (FUA processed by Purchasing). 

 

Q. What is the difference between a "reciprocal trade" and a "sponsorship"?

A. A "reciprocal trade" exists when a product is exchanged for a good or service of equal or lessor value. For example, the University provides event tickets to a radio station in exchange for on air advertising. Whereas, a "sponsorship" is the support of an event with either cash or a product from a third party for which the third party receives access to the event or acknowledgement of the sponsorship. For example, a sponsor provides $100 toward a college open house and in exchange the sponsor receives logo placement and acknowledgement on the event's website. 

 

Q. What is the difference between a "gift" and a "sponsorship"?

A. A "gift" or "donation" is given to support a University event without the expectation of a return. Contact the University of Illinois Foundation for any questions related to gifts. "Sponsors" wish to create a link between the target audience of an event and its brands, products, and services.

CARF QUESTIONS

Q. What is a CARF? Why do I need one?

A. The CARF is the Contract Approval Routing Form. This form is required for any unit that is not an iCS user. The CARF provides the basic information summarizing the contract and documenting unit and institutional approvals. The CARF can be found on the OBFS Forms Page

 

Q. How do I fill out a CARF?

A. Information on filling out a CARF is available on the Contract Services Office website. 

 

Q. Are all of the signature fields on the CARF necessary?

A. All contracts, regardless of funding type (payable, receivable, or no funds) require unit head signature on the CARF. Unit head approval may not be delegated; however, the signature of the next higher-level administrator may substitute. Contracts for $50,000 ($25,000 at UIS) or more, whether payable or receivable, are reviewed and approved for processing by the dean or director of the unit. Dean/director approval may be delegated. The unit must maintain documentation of such delegation. Contracts for $150,000 ($50,000 at UIS) or more, whether payable or receivable, are reviewed and approved for processing by the appropriate Vice President, Chancellor or Vice Chancellor. In all cases, the signature of the next higher-level administrator negates the need for approval(s) at a lower level. Such approval is indicated by the appropriate individual's signature on the CARF. Additional approvals may be required depending on the type of contract. For more information on required signatures, see OBFS Policy 1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases.  

 

Q. How do I know which contract type and contract subtype to select on the CARF?

A. There is a list of type and subtype definitions available within the CARF. The list can be accessed by double-clicking on the paperclip icon next to the Contract Type drop-down field. If you need additional assistance determining which type and subtype are appropriate for your contract, please contact your university Contract Services Office (CSO) for assistance. 

iCS QUESTIONS

Q. What is the Illinois Contract System (iCS)? Should my unit be using iCS?

A. The Illinois Contract System (iCS) is the University's online contract management system. Units using iCS can develop and route their contracts electronically, instead of in paper form. For more information regarding iCS, including who to contact regarding unit access, consult the iCS Resource Page

 

Q. How can my unit gain access to iCS?

A. Generally a unit must process 10 or more contracts annually to gain access to iCS. If your unit meets this threshold, please reach out to your university's Contract Services Office (CSO)  to discuss whether iCS is right for your unit and, if so, to discuss the toll out to your department. 

 

Q. How do I add a new user to iCS?

A. Consult the iCS Resource Page for information on how to add a new user to iCS.

CONTRACT PROCESSING QUESTIONS

Q.  What are the differences between the services provided by the Contract Services Office (CSO) and the Purchasing Offices?

A. The Purchasing Offices review, approve, and obtain the signature of an authorized Comptroller delegate for contracts where the University is receiving a good or service from an outside party where a vendor relationship is created, even if for zero dollars. The Contract Services Office (CSO) reviews, approves, and obtains the signature of an authorized Comptroller delegate for contracts where the University is providing a good or service to an outside party, even if for zero dollars. If you are unsure which office your contract should be routed to, contact your university's Contract Services Office (CSO) for assistance. 

 

Q. Can I submit forms electronically?

A. Chicago

Yes! For units who do not have access to the Illinois Contract System (iCS), completed and signed CARFs and contracts can be submitted to Chicago Contract Services Office (Chicago CSO) at ChicagoCSO@uillinois.edu. For new contracts, the Revenue Generating Activity Information Worksheet (RGIW) is available in a portable document format (pdf) and can be submitted electronically with the CARF to ChicagoCSO@uillinois.edu

A. Springfield/Urbana-Champaign/System Offices

Yes! For units who do not have access to the Illinois Contract System (iCS), completed and signed CARFs and contracts can be submitted to the Contract Services Office (CSO) at SpringfieldCSO@uillinois.edu (Springfield customers) or UrbanaCSO@uillinois.edu (Urbana-Champaign and System customers). 

 

Q. How do I know that my contract has been received?

A. Chicago

For non-iCS users, when your CARF is received at Chicago CSO, you will receive an email verifying its receipt. The email will contain the contract coordinator's name and the assigned contract number. If the CARF is missing information or required attachments (i.e. contract), you will be contacted to provide the necessary information before it is considered "received" at Chicago CSO. 

A. Springfield/Urbana-Champaign/System Offices

For untis who do not have access to the iCS, once your contract has been signed by a Comptroller delegate in the CSO, that delegate will either call to let you know that your contract is ready for pick-up or email the CARF and signed contract to you. The CARF will have the assigned contract number, as well as any comments or notes from CSO. If the CARF is missing information, you will be contacted requesting the necessary information for the completion of this process. If you need to check the status of your contract, contact CSO at SpringfieldCSO@uillinois.edu (Springfield customers) or UrbanaCSO@uillinois.edu (Urbana-Champaign and System customers). 

For units who do have access to the iCS, you can track the activity on a contract by viewing the audit trail in the contract dashboard or you can subscribe to changes. Once your contract has been signed by a Comptroller delegate int he Contract Services Office (CSO), that delegate will complete the Comptroller Signature checklist task iCS will send an automatic email to the Requestor confirming completion of the Comptroller Signature checklist task.

 

Q. Who should sign first? Will the University sign before the other party?

A. Per OBFS Policy 1.3.2 on the Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases, due to State of Illinois contract filing requirements and Board of Trustees contract repository requirements, it is our normal practice to be the final party to sign a contract. If the other party insists on signing last, please reach out to the appropriate contract processing office to discuss the matter with that office. It is important to be aware that the contract is not fully executed until after both parties have signed. The Contract Services Office (CSO) relies on the unit to ensure that the other party returns a fully executed copy of the contract. The unit should either import the fully executed contract into the Illinois Contract System (iCS) or via email to ChicagoCSO@uillinois.edu (Chicago customers), SpringfieldCSO@uillinois.edu (Springfield customers), or UrbanaCSO@uillinois.edu (Urbana-Champaign and System Office customers). 

 

Q. Can the other party email a signed contract, or are original (aka "wet") signatures always required?

A. Yes, the other party can print, sign, scan, and email a contract back to you. In fact, we prefer it! This constitutes a facsimile signature, which the University can accept. For more information on this topic, refer TEST to Facsimile Signatures and Electronic Signatures on the Contract Elements page. 

 

Q. Who will set up accounts to bill and collect funds due from external parties?

A. It is the unit's responsibility to set up the necessary accounts and collect funds due from external parties. If you need assistance, contact the University Office of Accounting and Financial Reporting (UAFR) at (217) 333-9138. See also OBFS Policy 22 on Self Supporting/Revenue Generating Activities

 

Q. How long will it take to process my contract?

A. This is one of the most frequently asked questions and yet one of the most difficult to answer. Several factors contribute to how quickly a contract can be processed. If the other party is willing to sign an unaltered pre-approved University template, the process can move very quickly. If the contract is more complicated, discussions may need to take place with other offices, including the Office of University Counsel, the Office of Risk Management, University Accounting and Financial Reporting (UAFR), University Tax, or others. Contracts can take one day to multiple years to process, depending on the complexity. 

The best way to ensure quicker contract processing is to include the appropriate contract processing office at the outset of contract discussions. A contract processing office can help you identify potential policy, legal, financial, or other pitfalls and counsel you through them.

 

Q. Are automatic renewals allowed in our agreements?

A. Automatic renewals are allowed on a very limited case-by-case basis, and not recommended because they restrict our leverage to negotiate, adjust compensation up or down, or update provisions affected by federal, state, or system policies, to name a few. Automatic renewals are limited to certain types of agreements and only up to a maximum of 10 years including the initial term.

 

Q. What is required to have a renewal amendment processed?

A. Chicago

If the department is in iCS, submit a Contract Request form to Chicago CSO via iCS. If the department is not in iCS, it should email Chicago CSO, a completed CARF with all the required signatures including the original contract number with the 'Amendment' box checked, the new start and end date information, and the "Brief Description of Services" field indicating what changes are required. If more space is required, attach a memo including any and all changes to the scope of services, compensation or any other contract provision that should be revised or incorporated with the renewal. The CARF can then be emailed to ChicagoCSO@uillinois.edu

A. Springfield/Urbana-Champaign/System Offices

Send an email to CSO at SpringfieldCSO@uillinois.edu or UrbanaCSO@uillinois.edu with the original contract number, how long you would like the renewal to last, and any additional information that may be needed on the renewal (e.g., additional compensation due to your unit, etc.)

 

Q. Does CSO process non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and/or confidentiality agreements (CAs)?

A. Yes. For NDAs and CAs that involve the university providing goods or services to a third party, please contact CSO. 

For NDAs and CAs that involve a vendor or contractor and may involve an expenditure, please contact the Purchasing Offices

For NDAs and CAs that have a bearing on research activities, please contact your University pre-award office. 

Chicago: The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research via email at ovcrweb@uic.edu or by phone at (312) 996-4995.

Springfield: Research and Sponsored Programs via email at ora@uis.edu or by phone at (217) 206-7409. 

Urbana-Champaign: Sponsored Programs Administration via email at spapreaward@illinois.edu or by phone at (217) 333-2187. 

SIGNATURE AUTHORITY QUESTIONS

 

Q. Who has authority to sign a contract?

A. Only the University Comptroller, or his/her approved delegates, have the authority to sign contracts for the University. See Section II.1(d) of The General Rules Concerning University Organization Procedures and OBFS Policies and Procedures Manual, 1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases for more information. 

 

Q. Who can sign a standard template under $10,000?

A. Certain pre-approved, standard contract templates (if unaltered) may be executed by a unit head (defined in OBFS policy as a department head or higher) in the name of the Comptroller. These templates will have a University signature block like this:

The Board of Trustees of The University of Illinois signature image

Unit heads will sign the Comptroller's name on the first line and date it, print their name and title on the second line, and date and sign their own name on the third line. This signature delegation is granted only to the unit head and cannot be further delegated by a unit head to another employee. For more information, refer to the OBFS Policies and Procedures Manual, 1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases.

The Board of Trustees of The University of Illinois signed image

 

Q. Why can't my Unit Head/Dean/Director just sign the contract?

A. Per section II.1(d) of The General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure and OBFS Policy 1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases and the Board of Trustees General Rules at article II.1.d, the University Comptroller is the general fiscal officer of the Board of Trustees and is authorized to execute contracts on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. If your unit head were to sign a contract, then your unit does not have a legally binding contract. Should a dispute arise due to that contract, the other party would not be able to sue the University and would therefore sue the person who signed the contract, who would be held personally and financially responsible for any awards, damages, court costs, etc. 

 

Q. Oops! Someone in my office has signed a contract. What should I do?

A. If you find that someone in your office has provided an unauthorized signature to a contract, you should immediately reach out to the contract processing office that should have processed that contract. Staff in those offices will work with you and the Office of University Counsel to decide if the University can ratify the contract. If ratification is approved then that contract processing office, in conjunction with the Office of University Counsel, will draft a document to send to the other party to provide an authorized Comptroller signature. It is very possible that ratification may not be granted, so it is always preferable to send contracts to the appropriate contract processing office for a delegated Comptroller signature. 

 

Q. Why can't we accept electronic signatures?

A. We can! Per OBFS Policy 1.3.5 Electronic Signatures, the University can allow electronic signatures provided that those signatures: (1) Comply with conditions for providing identity assurance, such as, authenticating the identity of the user through university systems or additional levels of authentication as required; and (2) Ensure that the signature and all necessary verification records are maintained to the full life cycle of the record. The contract processing offices may accept electronic signatures from the other party so long as that office determines that the signature is affixed in a trustworthy manner and presents a reasonable level of reliability and authenticity (Identity Assurance). If you have additional questions, please reach out to your contract processing office. 

 

Q. How do I request Signature Authority?

A. Comptroller signature authority can be granted by the Assistant Vice President for Business Services. To request signature authority: (1) your unit must have a unit-specific template drafted by a process contract processing office in conjunction with the Office of University Counsel; (2) the unit-specific template must have an "approved as to legal form" footer; (3) your unit must process several of these contracts on a regular basis, for example, 10+ per month. 

If your unit meets all of the above, contact your university's Contract Services Office (CSO) to request signature authority. CSO will send you a Signature Authority Request Form for your department to fill out explaining why your unit desires signature authority as well as identifying who would have such authority. That form, along with your template, is sent to the Assistant Vice President for Business Services for review. If the Assistant Vice President for Business Services approves this authority, you will receive a letter granting the authority, identifying which unaltered template would be signed, who may sign on behalf of the Comptroller, and identifying an expiration date for the authority. Signature authority is granted for no more than two years at a time. Renewals may be requested using the same process described above. For questions about signature authority, please contact the Contract Services Office (CSO)

Last Updated: August 10, 2020

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