The guiding principle for contracts for the purchase of goods or services is that campus purchasers own the contracting process. This requires University employees involved in these purchases to take full responsibility for understanding Northwestern’s policies and procedures for contracting with vendors, including purchasing, payment, and vendor relations.
While central offices are available to provide support, not all agreements require central office review. Engaging with central offices for contract review depends upon factors such as the amount of spend, sensitive or materially risky subject matter or terms, the use of university approved and maintained templates, and certain renewal agreements. Please review the Office of General Counsel’s “Contract Review Process" for more information and guidance.
Additionally, Procurement and Payment Services (PPS) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC) have created the following contracting training materials that cover a number of topics useful to anyone on campus involved with purchasing or contracting.
Process Highlights and Key Points
Prior to any purchase commitment purchasers must review the list of preferred vendors and the bid process.
- If the product or service you need is available from a Preferred Vendor, then no additional agreements are required.
- Please note that for some vendors a signed Statement of Work (SOW) may be required. The SOW is specific to the goods or services of individual purchases and does not impact the terms of the preferred vendor agreement.
- If a non-preferred vendor is selected, then the purchaser should check with Rich Cummo in the Office of General Counsel (OGC) to determine if an existing contract is in place with the vendor. If an existing agreement is applicable it will govern the purchase (slides 21-22).
Using university approved templates or forms that are unmodified by vendors can decrease the amount of time it takes to issue a purchase order and ensures terms that are favorable to the university as a buyer (slide 23).
Please review the Office of General Counsel’s “Contract Review Process” for guidance outlining which contracts require OGC review and what information OGC needs to review requests (slides 18-19, 26-28).
If the vendor returns a Northwestern approved form with modifications or insists on using a non-Northwestern form for the contract, please review the agreement and discuss with business stakeholders before reaching out to subject matter experts (slides 26, 30-32).
After the purchaser collects internal approvals and signatures, please remember to email the signed contract to Rich Cummo so it can be kept in OGC’s records. This applies to all agreements, even if OGC review was not required (slides 37, 38). As a reminder, DocuSign is available for campus wide use.
Key contract terms, Northwestern’s standard position on those terms, and explanations of certain terms and positions can be found on slides 50-77.
TemplatesPlease keep in mind that templates are periodically updated or added. Therefore, continue to check this webpage for the most updated template/form and link to this PPS site instead of saving templates to school/department websites.
|Purchase Order Terms and Conditions||Standard terms used for purchases of equipment/goods and low risk, one-off services (equipment installation, training etc.)|
|Professional Services Agreement||Designed to be used with outside consultants or service providers that will provide general services to NU (beyond just installation or training).|
|Research Services Agreement||Designed to be used with outside consultants or service providers that will provide services to NU connected to a NU research study or project, such as laboratory testing or analysis services, data analysis, or other research-related services. It has the same terms as the Professional Services Agreement, but also includes terms specific to more complex or sensitive research projects, such as data privacy and material handling terms.|
|Speaker Contract||Standard agreement for use with outside speakers at NU- sponsored events (off and on-campus).|
|Catering Rider||Designed to be used when NU is contracting with a caterer/restaurant to provide catering services on/off campus. Rider should be attached to the underlying vendor agreement.|
|Equipment Rental Rider||Designed to be used when NU is renting pieces of equipment. Rider should be attached to the underlying rental agreement with the vendor.|
|Event Venue Rider||Designed for events off campus. Rider should be attached to the underlying agreement with the event venue.|
|On-site Contractor Rider||Designed to be used when a vendor/service provider will be coming on NU premises to provide one-off, low risk or low value services (such as equipment maintenance or installation services) where we do not otherwise have a NU Services Agreement with the vendor. Rider should be attached to the underlying vendor agreement.|
|Speaker Rider||Designed to be used without outside speakers at NU-sponsored events where the speaker insists on using their own form of contract for the arrangement. Rider should be attached to the speaker’s own agreement.|
|Transportation Rider||Designed to be used when NU is contracting for charter transportation services (Bus, Boat, Air). Rider should be attached to the underlying vendor agreement.|
- Procurement Contracts Manager, Tracy Mrowczynski
- Office of General Counsel Contract Manager, Richard Cummo