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Contract Services Office - UIUC

Contracts Services Office Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this information is to provide guidance to units on the Urbana-Champaign campus regarding the University's contract process.  The questions were selected based on consistent inquiries received.


Q. Who has authority to sign a contract?
A. Only the University Comptroller, or his approved delegates, have the authority to sign agreements and contracts for the University. See Section 1: Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases.

Q. Is it OK to use a client's/vendor's contract instead of a University form?
A. Whenever possible, it is the University's preference to use our internal contract forms.  There are situations, however, in which a client or vendor 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 non-standard contracts, see the Contract Types page.

Q. Who should sign first? Will the University sign before the other party?
A. It is always our preference to sign a contract last. This gives us the opportunity to ensure that the final, executed form is the one that has been approved/mutually agreed upon. It also gives us tighter control over certain associated deadlines and post-execution actions, such as filing with the State of Illinois and issuing a purchase order, for payable contracts. However, if the other party insists that we sign first, we will. This is common when we have agreed to use the other party's form. 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 route a hard copy to CSO.

Q. Can I submit forms electronically?
 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

Q. Can a vendor/client email a signed contract, or are original signatures always required?
A. Yes, a vendor/client can print, sign, scan, and email a contract back to you. This constitutes a facsimile signature, which the University can accept. For more information on this topic, refer to Counterparts/Facsimile Signatures on the Contract Elements page.

Q. How do I know that my contract has been received?
For units who do not have access to the Illinois Contract System (iCS), once your contract has been signed by a University Comptroller delegate in the Contract Services Office (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 217-333-4638 or

Q. What are standard templates?
A. Standard templates are pre-approved contract forms that have been created by OBFS and University Counsel to facilitate some common University business transactions. Units may use these standard templates to expedite the contract process, provided no alterations to the template language or legal form are required. The most commonly used contract templates are available on the OBFS web site under Forms and in the Illinois Contract System (iCS).

Q. Who can sign a standard template under $10,000?
A. Certain standard contract templates (if unaltered) may be executed by a unit head in the name of the Comptroller. These templates will have a University signature block like this:

University signature block

Unit heads will sign the Comptroller's name on the first line and their own name on the second link, then print their name and date on the following lines. 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, Section 1: Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases.

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 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. Non-standard contracts should be submitted via email to the Contract Services Office ( for review.

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 the Contract Services Office (CSO) for assistance.

Q. What is the Illinois Contract System (iCS)? Should my unit be using iCS?
A. The 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 who to contact regarding unit access, consult the iCS Resource 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.

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 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 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. Approval is indicated by the appropriate individual's signature on the CARF.

Q. What are the differences between the services provided by the Contract Services Office (CSO) and Purchasing?
A. Purchasing reviews, approves, and obtains the signature of an authorized Comptroller delegate for procurement contracts that will be associated with/attached to a University Purchase Order. The Contract Services Office reviews, approves, and obtains the signature of an authorized Comptroller delegate for receivable, zero dollar, and payable contracts that will not be associated with/attached to a University Purchase Order. This could include revenue-generating agreements, facility use agreements, affiliation/internship/externship agreements, reciprocal trade agreements, non-disclosure agreements, publishing agreements, intergovernmental agreements, sponsorship agreements, and others. If you are unsure which office your contract should be routed to, contact the Contract Services Office (CSO) for assistance.

Last Updated: October 9, 2015

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