Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Contracts Guidance Policy



The College has developed a formalized Contract Policy that outlines who is an authorized signor and the activities required to obtain contracts. 

  • Contract signing authority:  The Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer (VPFA), and the Associate Vice President for Finance (AVPFA) are the only employees authorized by the Board of Trustees to execute contracts on behalf of the College.  Contracts and commitments in excess of $100,000 may also require the approval of the Board of Trustees.
  • All contracts should be sent to the AVPFA for review and approval.  The VPFA, General Counsel, and/or Risk Management may also be involved in the contract review process.
  • All contracts require review regardless of the dollar amount associated with the agreement.
  • Standard College contract templates exist for many standard campus activities.  The development of agreements for real estate, insurance, software and networking, and contracted services for facilities and other work requires prior approval of the VPFA office.
  • It is critical that a full review occur prior to negotiating and entering into a contract to ensure: (a) the College is limiting its liability by having legal counsel review, as necessary; (b) appropriate contract clauses are present; (c) the College has appropriate resources to satisfy the contract terms; (d) proper treatment for tax purposes; (e) protection of students’ rights; (f) third party vendors have background checks, as appropriate, and (g) the contract does not represent a conflict of interest for the College.
  • All contracts must be reviewed and signed before the commencement of services or the delivery of goods by the outside party.
  • Negotiation of favorable pricing and competitive bidding:
    • When securing pricing for a contract arrangement, efforts should be made to secure favorable pricing for the College as part of the agreement negotiation process.
    • Under competitive bidding, multiple vendor pricing proposals, or bids, should be secured before selecting the final vendor.  Competitive bidding for goods and services is required for agreements with dollar values in excess of $25,000; for major capital projects, competitive bidding is required for agreements with dollar values in excess of $100,000.
  • If the outside party is expected to have any unsupervised contact with F&M students or minors, a current criminal background check is required or a College employee must be present during the course of the contract engagement. 

Contracts should be in place for the following activities but not limited to:

  • Facilities that are rented by the College or rented from the College including no fee, or $0, rentals;
  • Professional services provided to the College or provided by the College, including consulting, speaking engagements, legal assistance, equipment, software maintenance, etc.;
  • Leases of equipment;
  • Exchange of goods or services involving or not involving money; and
  • Grant agreements.


Timing for contract review and approval:

  • Please allow adequate time in your planning process for contract review and approval.  While unforeseen circumstances always exist, please plan to have your contract documents submitted for review no later than two weeks prior to the date of the event or commencement of contract services.


  1.  Before preparing a contract, determine if the vendor supplying the service is classified (per IRS standards) as an employee or a vendor.  To correctly classify individuals, review and complete the Independent Contractor Checklist.
  • If the service being provided is deemed to be an employee, please contact in Human Resources.

  • If the service being provided is deemed to be an Independent Contractor, then proceed as follows:   

  1. Definitions and Templates:  For faster processing, we recommend using the F&M College templates.  However, if the vendor supplies a contract, F&M will accept it, but modifications will likely need to be made.  **All templates may be updated from time to time, therefore we recommend that you do not store a template in your personal files for frequent use. 
  • Short-term engagements are defined as:  presence on campus is 3 or less consecutive or non-consecutive days out of the year.  Below is a list of templates that can be used for specific events defined as short-term engagements: 
  • Guest lecturer: Guest lecturer template
  • Guest speaker: Guest speaker template
  • Guest artist: Guest artist template
  • Training facilitator: Trainer template
  • Performers, including professional musicians and singers (single performers or part of an ensemble): Performer template
  • Outside vendors for student organizations, including vendors providing services for short-term engagements such as special event contractors, entertainers, balloon artists, etc.: Outside Vendors-Student Organizations template
  • College facility rentals – please contact , Director for Conference Services and External Events.
  • Food/catering-related agreements – the College’s agreement with Sodexo does allow food to be brought onto campus but does not allow an outside vendor to provide labor to support an event such as catering the event or setting up/tearing down food and related food service equipment.  Questions regarding these arrangements should be sent to , Associate Vice President for Administration.  Please send all food/catering-related agreements for review via .

  • Long Term Engagements are defined as:  presence on campus is more than 3 consecutive or non-consecutive days out of the year.  Please use the Independent Contractor Agreement
  • Protection of minors:  If the outside party is expected to have any unsupervised contact with F&M students or minors, it is imperative that the F&M department or office engaging the outside party confirms that either (a) the outside party has successfully completed a criminal background check within the last six months (please use the attached Background Certification Form) (b) a College employee will be present to supervise at all times as per the scope of work defined in the contract.
  • W-9 Form:   The IRS requires that the College have a completed W-9 form on file for each vendor where payments have been issued.  This form also allows the Business Office to establish the vendor in the accounts payable system and assists in faster payment processing.  College Policy requires that we update our system every 3 years with a new W-9 form.  If you are unsure if your vendor has a current W-9 form on file, please contact the Business Office for confirmation.  ***Please note that this form may include someone’s social security number on it.  Therefore special care needs to be taken when transmitting and managing this confidential and sensitive information.
    • If the vendor is a non-US Citizen, please contact Human Resources for assistance in completing the correct form.

  1.  Approval process:
  • Download and complete the appropriate F&M approved contract templates as defined above OR use vendor supplied contract
  • If applicable, download the Background Certification Form
  • If applicable, download the W-9 form
  • Forward these documents to the vendor for their review, approval, and signatures
  • Once the vendor has completed the required information and returns it to you, forward the packet via PDF format to .  If appropriate, please copy your supervisor or group leader on the email. 
  • Please use the name of vendor in the “subject line” of email.

The Contracts Review Group will examine the documents submitted and will respond with questions as needed.  Once the review has been completed, an official college signor will sign the contract and return it to the requestor via email. 

  1.  Payment Initiation: 
  • It is College procedure, and good business practice, that full payment for goods and services will only be made once the good has been delivered or the service has been received.  Deposits are acceptable and should be outlined in the terms of the contract.  In order to initiate a deposit or payment to the vendor, a Disbursement Form  will need to be completed and forwarded (along with the signed contract) to the Business Office for payment processing.  The Business Office will not make payment to a vendor without proper signatures on the contract.  
  1.  Preferred Vendors:
  • There are vendors in the community that engage with various departments across campus and do a significant volume of business with the F&M community.  Therefore, the College is working on identifying these vendors to establish them as a “Preferred Vendor”.  Using a preferred vendor would eliminate the need for each department to navigate the contract process noted above.  Departments would conduct business with preferred vendors by using the PO process.  If you identify a vendor that would fit this profile, please email the vendor contact information to .  A list of preferred vendors will be forthcoming. 

If you have questions or encounter an unusual contract situation, please send as much information as possible via email to and also complete and send the Independent Contractor Checklist for review and further instructions.

Questions and Contact Information

  • Email:

Latest Update:  10/20/14 WGentile