Strategic Procurement Services

Strategic Procurement Services

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Memo from VP, F&A and Provost Regarding Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts and Invoices

TO:              Principal/ VPs/ AVPs/ Deans and Business Officers

FROM:        Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) and Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

SUBJECT :  Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts and Invoices

DATE:          May 22, 2015

The  Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts was approved at the May 8 thmeeting of the Board of Trustees.  This policy will become effective on June 1 st, 2015 and replaces the current Contract Signing Authority Policy that was approved in October 2009.  Consistent with the policy approved in 2009, nothing in this policy limits the authority of Senate and no changes to the policies or procedures of Senate are contemplated by virtue of changes to this policy.

The new policy provides a clear framework for accountability and authority for both financial and non-financial transactions. In a decentralised entity like Queen’s, this accountability rests with leadership in the unit where the authority to contract or approve invoices resides, which is why we are writing to ask that you help us raise awareness of the policy requirements with the faculty and staff in your department.  Key changes to the policy are summarized below. 

Contracts to purchase goods and services [1]

  • Overall dollar limits have been increased.  Department Heads or Directors can now sign contracts up to $100,000, and Deans can sign contracts up to $500,000.  Potential contract extensions must be considered when determining contract value.
  • Signing authorities to purchase goods and services from research funds have been harmonized with requirements for purchases from non-research funds, which means for higher dollar purchases Dean or Vice-Principal signatures are required in addition to the Principal Investigator’s signature. 
  • Approval from Strategic Procurement Services is required for all contracts greater than $100,000.
  • Board approval is required for contracts to purchase goods and services greater than $5 million, including purchases funded by research monies
  • Limits referenced above are not annual limits, but limits for the lifetime of the contract, including potential amendment or extensions.

New categories of signing authority have been added

  • Invoice signing authority – this section clarifies who can sign invoices within units.
  • Revenue Generating Service Contracts – a signing authority matrix has been added, together with procedures that require the completion of a form for review and approval by the signing officer that outlines key information about the contract.
  • Employment Contracts – signing authority matrices for both academic and non-academic staff have been added to the policy.  Please note that approval procedures for Research Grant and Contract staff are still being finalized, as the policy requires the approval of the Department Head before commencing the hiring process.

Contract signing authority cannot be delegated unless a designate is provided for in the signing authority matrix. 

To make sure the list of signing authorities remains current, Financial Services will initiate an update to the list of signing authorities on an annual basis.

Thank you for your assistance in ensuring that this message is communicated widely in your units, and in supporting compliance with the Policy on the Approval and Execution of Contracts and Invoices.  To further support the awareness and compliance with this policy, Financial Services staff is available to attend departmental meetings to present an overview of the policy.  Please contact Heather Woermke at woermkeh@queensu.ca or at extension 33375 if you wish to arrange for this presentation.


[1] Contracts to purchase goods and services include purchase orders.