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 Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is a Contract?
    • In the broadest sense, a contract is an agreement between two or more parties that creates in each party a duty to do or not do something and a right to performance of the other’s duty or a remedy for the breach of the other’s duty. At USU, a contract is usually a written agreement or other formal instrument where there is mutual agreement to terms that bind the University or the counterparty to any legal obligation. Typically, at least one party to the transaction is external to the University. A contract may be in the form of an agreement, proposal, statement, notice, resolution, letter, memorandum of understanding (MOU), memorandum of agreement (MOA), purchase order, license, indenture, grant, cooperative agreement, etc. In addition, such documents may go by other names as well.

  • Do contracts need to be written?
    • At USU, our contracts must ALWAYS be in writting. Oral contracts can easily result in ambigous terms and unmet expectations.

  • Can colleges, departments, or centers enter into contracts?
    • Colleges, departments, and centers are not legal entities and have no standing to enter into contracts. Rather, these groups are divisions of Utah State University.  Utah State University, and in some cases its incorporated foundations, are the only legal entities that can enter into contracts.

  • When do I need a contract?
    • A contract is necessary when you wish to bind another party to do something for USU or when another party wishes to bind USU to do something. If you are not sure if you need a contract, contact your department’s financial officer or the office of general counsel to discuss.

  • Who do I work with to get a contract?
        If you have questions or do not see the type of contract that you need in the above list, contact your department’s financial officer to get going in the right direction.

  • Who can sign contracts?
    • The following people have authority to execute contracts: the President, V.P. for Business and Finance, Associate V.P. for Business and Finance, and the V.P. for Research. In addition, the V.P. for Business and Finance delegates signature authority to individuals as needed. DO NOT SIGN CONTRACTS UNLESS YOU HAVE AUTHORITY TO DO SO.  When someone without authority signs a contract for USU, that person exposes himself/herself and his/her personal resources to liability.  See USU Policy No. 528: Contract Signature Authority and Delegation for more information.

  • Where should I save my contract?
    • Executed contracts should be saved in your department’s records and should also be forwarded to the contracting unit that helped you (e.g. Purchasing and Contract Services, Division of Sponsored Programs, Real Property Administration Office, Technology Transfer Services, Public Relations and Marketing, Risk Management). Each contracting unit has an archive for executed contracts.

  • What are my responsibilities after a contract is executed?
    • Each department is responsible for contract compliance and the duties outlined in departmental contracts. The Office of General Counsel recommends that the department that initiated the contract calendar expiration and renewal dates, deliverable due dates, payments, etc. to ensure compliance with the contract terms.