If you are a Ball State employee planning to enter a contract with an outside vendor, you will need to work with our office. We are responsible for reviewing and approving all contracts for the university in order to ensure that your agreements with your vendor are in line with Ball State’s policies, regulations, and any other requirements.

Why We Follow These Procedures

It is important that every contract—including "terms and conditions" on websites or license agreements in computer software—be reviewed by the appropriate staff and approved by officials with the authority to enter into contracts and agreements on behalf of the University.

Often, legal expertise is required to ensure that the contract is in accordance with Ball State's policies and regulations and other requirements. Once that review is complete, the Board of Trustees has authorized the president, the vice president for business affairs and treasurer, and the associate vice president of business affairs and assistant treasurer to sign documents on behalf of the institution.

If a non-authorized employee signs a contract, the contract may be unenforceable if the other party violates it, or it may open the employee up to personal liability.

How to Set Up a Contract

You will generally need to set up a contract if you encounter a need to do business with any vendor or party outside of Ball State University.

Make sure to discuss the nature and other relevant details of the proposed arrangement with your dean, director or department chair so you can receive their initial approval.

You’ll generally need to establish a full contract (versus a purchase order) if:

  • the vendor does not accept the purchase order without modification
  • your requirements are complex
  • the contract is not for the purchase of tangible personal property

Please note that for speakers/presenters, a contract is not required if the total payment is $1,000 or less, as further described in the following advisory document:  

Ball State University Outside Speakers/Presenters ($1000 or less)

This is an advisory document to provide direction for those who are organizing events, class lectures, and similar activities involving an outside speaker/presenter when the arrangement involves no payment or a payment of $1000 or less.

1. The organizer must obtain prior approval from the Dean, Provost, or area Vice President. A description, location, date, time, and cost (if any) of the engagement should be provided.

2. If the organizer would like to videotape or record the engagement for the University’s future educational/non-commercial purposes, this should be planned for in advance, including receiving permission from the speaker/presenter to do so in writing (email will suffice).

3. The speaker/presenter should be informed that they should refrain from efforts to sell services and/or products to attendees for personal gain, or solicit the names, addresses or telephone numbers of attendees.

4. The speaker/presenter should be informed of the expectation that they will abide by the University’s Non-Commercial Expressive Activity and Assembly on University Property policy and the Commercial Activity on University Property policy.

5. If the engagement presents security concerns anticipated in advance, or if they arise while the event is occurring, the University Police Department should be contacted.

6. For speaker/presenter arrangements involving no payment or a payment of $1000 or less, no contract is required.

7. By organizing and hosting a speaker/presenter engagement involving no payment or a payment of $1000 or less, the organizer acknowledges that they have read and abided by the standards in this document.

See common types of contracts.

The process you’ll follow for your purchase—and whether you need to seek competitive bids and set up a formal contract—varies depending on the value of your contract.

$1 - $1,000

Purchases for items other than office supplies (you must use an office supply contract when possible) that total $1,000 or less should be purchased by a Department Purchasing Order (DPO) or on the university’s purchasing card when possible. If a purchase order must be issued, submit a requisition to Purchasing for processing.

$1,001 - $7,500

Purchases in this range are subject to Purchasing Agent review and competitive bidding. However, if a product or supplier has been determined reasonable, technically sound, and advantageous by previous surveys of the market, the competitive bid may be waived.

$7,501 - $15,000

Competitive quotations are strongly desired. Decisions not to competitively bid will be justified by the Purchasing Agent and may require a sole source justification form from the requesting department. Purchases in this range will be subject to approval from the Director of Purchasing or the Director's designee.


Competitive quotations are required by Resolution of the Board of Trustees when practical. If this option is neither feasible nor possible the explanation of the circumstance and completion of the sole source justification form may be required with the requisition as a supporting document. Purchases in this range will be subject to approval from the Director of Purchasing or the Director's designee and the Finance Office.

View the policy on bidding (PDF).

If you plan to purchase personal property, a University purchase order often can suffice as the contract. However, in many instances, you’ll need to propose a formal contract after you’ve selected a vendor through either the bidding process or you’ve received approval on a sole source justification form.

If you are proposing and know of a University employee or close relative of a University employee who has a financial interest in the proposed vendor (such as by being an employee or contractor of the proposed vendor or owning an equity interest in the proposed vendor), the contract must follow the university's conflict of interest policy. This includes the person submitting a conflict of interest disclosure form.

In order to avoid violating state law, an employee must disclose a conflict of interest in writing as outlined before the contracts or purchases are finalized.

The form is available from the Office of Accounting and must be completed and submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer.

Form Reviews

The conflict of interest disclosure form will be reviewed by a university official and, if approved, will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval at a regularly scheduled board meeting.

If the Board of Trustees approves the form, then a copy of the form is filed with the State Board of Accounts.

No transaction can go forward until after final board approval, so be certain to begin the process early enough to avoid any violation of state law.


Disclosures are valid for a maximum of one year.

In cases where the University makes contracts or purchases of a particular type on a regular basis from a particular vendor, an who has a financial interest in the contract or purchases needs to resubmit their disclosure statement annually.

If a proposed contract is provided by a vendor or other party, or business details are inserted into a standard university contract form, the contract form should be submitted to the appropriate dean, director or department chair for initial approval.

Please keep in mind the Basic Requirements for All Ball State University Contracts. Complying with the policies in advance will speed the contract review and approval process.

Contract proposals that are approved by the department or college should be referred to the Finance Office, Contracts Office, or the Purchasing Department as appropriate.

Plan well in advance to have a contract reviewed and approved to ensure that the contract is in place before performance begins.

The contract should be routed to the Contracts Office, Purchasing Department, or Office of Contracts and Grants depending on the type of contract. These offices will ensure that sufficient review occurs as necessary.

How to Submit

The contract can be submitted in hard copy or via email, although, if possible, it is preferred that the contract be submitted via email.

Review Lengths

Contracts that are properly filled out on a university-approved standard form generally are approved in less than a week.

Contracts on a vendor-provided form or those requiring negotiation may require additional time for review, processing, and approval.

The reviewing office may contact the department with questions, and the contract may take an extended period of time to negotiate, depending on the complexity of the agreement, the extent to which the contract complies with the Basic Requirements for All Ball State University Contracts, and the difficulty of the negotiations.


Once the contract is approved, it will be signed on behalf of the University by an authorized party and returned to the department.

Usually, two or more identical originals will be returned to the department.

After the contract is signed on behalf of the University and returned to the department, the department generally will need to obtain the signature of the other party or parties involved.

The department should make one file copy of one contract and then send all of the originals to the other party with instructions to sign all of the agreements, keep one, and return the other originals to the department.

It is important to try to make sure that the person signing the agreement on behalf of the other party is authorized to do so. This person tends to vary based on the type of entity you’re working with.

Below is a brief summary of the types of other parties that may be encountered:

Individuals or Sole Proprietorships – If the other party is an individual and has not formed a formal legal entity (usually ending in with "Inc.," "Corp.," "Corporation," "LLC" or "Ltd.," the other party generally is a sole proprietorship, and the contract needs to be signed by the individual who operates the business – called the "proprietor." Because the contract will be a public document, the social security number of the individual should not appear in the contract. Instead, a W-9 or other tax form should be obtained certifying the individual's social security number or taxpayer identification number.

Partnerships – Only a general partner may sign for a partnership. Limited partners may not sign a contract to bind a partnership.

Registered Limited Partnerships – Only a general partner may sign for a registered limited partnership. Limited partners may not sign a contract to bind a registered limited partnership.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) – Only a Manager or Member-Manager of the company may sign for a LLC. (Note that the term "manager" does not mean an employee of the LLC, but is the individual authorized to bind the business entity under the articles of organization or operating agreement of the LLC.)

Corporations – One or more corporate officers, such as the president, vice-president, or treasurer are usually the authorized signatories for a corporation. A person with some other title cannot be assumed to have authority to bind the corporation. Either a copy of the signed corporate resolution that provides for such authority or an attestation by the corporation's secretary must accompany the signature to evidence the signer's authority to bind the corporation.

Government Entities – Request information on the authority of the signatory when executing these contracts or agreements.

Power of Attorney – A legal document giving one person (called an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") the power to act for another person (the principal). The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make legal decisions about the principal's property and finances. A Power of Attorney must reviewed by the Contracts Office prior to acceptance as evidence of the person's authority to sign.

After your contract has been signed, please make sure to follow these guidelines.

Location – All contracts must be maintained in a readily accessible file in your office or department.

Administration – All contracts must be assigned to a staff person ("contract administrator") in your department or college. This person is responsible for performing or tracking the performance of the contract and addressing any other issues that arise under the agreement.

File Maintenance – All contract files must contain a copy of the final, fully executed contract and any and all correspondence or other documents related to the contract. The contract administrator should be responsible for maintaining a complete file, and for closing the file when the contract is completed and maintaining the file in a manner consistent with the applicable Ball State records retention rules.

Role of the Contracts Office – The Contracts Office maintains a file for all contracts it reviews, but the primary file maintenance responsibility belongs with the college, department, division, or unit where the contract file is housed. The Contracts Office has established an internal contracts and transactions tracking system. The office logs in each request for review or other assistance with respect to a contract or a transaction.

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