University Signing Policy implemented May 1, 2021

Revisions to the Policy on the Approval of Contracts and Designation of Signing Authority (“Policy”), were approved by the Board of Governors on February 11, 2021, and took effect on May 1, 2021. The revised policy can be accessed here.

The Procedure Regarding Second Signature Requirements for Contracts greater than $1 million is available here

Click here for an overview of the Signing Policy revisions. 

Handbook for the Implementation of the Policy on the Approval of Contracts and Designation of Signing Authority (effective May 1, 2021)

Signing Authority forms
Template 1: Delegation and Revocation of Signing Authority
Template 2: Quarterly Report on the Exercise of Delegated Authority
Template 3: Notice of Temporary Delegation Form

 


FAQ - Policy on the Approval of Contracts and Designation of Signing Authority


About the Policy on the Approval of Contracts and Designation of Signing Authority


The revised Policy on the Approval of Contracts and Designation of Signing Authority will take effect on May 1, 2021. The Policy establishes a framework of authority, responsibility and thresholds for the approval and signing of third party contracts on behalf of the University.

 

Question Answer
1. What types of contracts fall under the scope of the Policy?

This Policy applies, but is not limited to, all written contracts, sub-contracts, letters of agreement, memoranda of understanding, memoranda of agreement, leases, subscriptions, licenses, donor agreements, deeds, grant applications, grant agreements, certificates, instruments, or any other documents between the University and a third party,* which create an obligation that incurs an expense or generates revenue or which is binding upon the University or any part thereof.
*Third party refers to an entity separate from the University and not inter-unit agreements.

2. How does the Signing Policy work?

The Policy vests signing authority in designated signing officers and provides for a framework within which signing officers are authorized to delegate their authority while remaining accountable for the exercise of the delegation.

The model provides controls through quarterly reporting on contracts and through clear reporting obligations and requirements for signing officers and their delegates.


3. Who are the designated Signing Officers?

A signing officer or delegate is a person to whom authority to approve and sign a contract, on behalf of the University, has been assigned in accordance with this Policy. They are: the Principal and Vice-Chancellor (“Principal”), the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), the Vice-Principals, the Deputy Provost, the Secretary-General, the General Counsel, Associate and Assistant Vice-Principals, Associate Provosts, the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Investment Officer and Treasurer, Deans, and Executive Directors.

4. What is under the purview of each Signing Officer?

Signing officers are entitled to authorize contracts required for the stewardship of their respective portfolios up to the threshold listed in the Policy (article 22). Signing officers will authorize contracts based on approved budget allocations, enabling expenses or revenues related to the contract.
 

5. What is the significance of Table A and of Table B?

The contract classes indicated in Table A and in Table B are authorized exclusively by the signing officers listed therein (article 26 and 27).

Table A and Table B list specialized contracts whose approval and signing are authorized exclusively by the specific listed signing officers, who have been predetermined based on their expertise.

6. What can a Signing Officer delegate?

Delegations that are established by signing officers fulfill viable operational needs and are not to be established solely out of convenience.


Signing officers may delegate approval and signing authority for contracts that are in their area of responsibility and within their established thresholds (article 22).

7. What are the delegation rules?

Signing officers may delegate authority for approval and/or signing of contracts to employees holding positions they deem appropriate, which are no more than two levels lower than the signing officer’s position according to the University’s organizational hierarchy and not below the level of a Manager - level 3 (M3) or equivalent, provided that such delegation is in writing and is:
a) To employees holding positions with knowledge, expertise and judgement required to fulfill obligations under the delegations and;
b) Of a total contract value not exceeding the signing officer’s authority;
c) Based on established templates;
d) Revocable by the signing officer or by a position at a higher level of authority at any time;
e) Subject to such conditions as may be determined by the signing officer;
f) Filed with the Secretariat and Financial Services upon execution.


The list of delegates and their delegations by area of responsibility can be viewed on the access-requested web site here.


A signing officer who has assigned authority to a delegate must review this delegation on a periodic basis to ensure proper oversight.


Delegations established by signing officers remain in force following the end of the fourth quarter of the fiscal year unless otherwise specified by the signing officer.

8. What are the delegation rules when an employee with signing authority is leaving their position?

Unless explicit authorization is granted to a signing officer or to a delegate by a position at a higher level of authority in the direct line of reporting pursuant to a review of any relevant conditions related to signing authority, signing officers and delegates, other than the Principal and the Principal’s direct reports unless indicated otherwise by the Principal, cannot exercise their signing authority following their notice of termination or resignation from the University for one month prior to the end of their contract with the University. In such cases, as established by the Policy, signing authority will automatically be vested with
the position at a higher level of authority in the direct line of reporting.


Signing officers and delegates who remain in the employ of the University following the end of the assignment which gave rise to their authority as a signing officer or as a delegate, continue to be vested with signing authority, with the understanding that this authority is subject to revocation, as provided for under this Policy (article 34). 

9. Can authority to sign a contract be sub-delegated? With the exception of contracts in Table A and Table B of the Policy, all other contracts can be delegated by the Signing officer, however, no other contracts can be further delegated to a sub-delegate.
10. What happens in the case of vacations or temporary absences?

A temporary absence is defined as an absence of more than four consecutive business days.


In the event of unavailability due to temporary absence, signing officers may temporarily delegate approval and signing authority to positions they deem appropriate, based on a template established by the Secretary-General.


Positions with assigned signing responsibility are subject to all Policy obligations applicable to signing officers and delegates, including reporting obligations.

11. Is there a requirement for second signatures on contracts and grant applications? 

All contracts for a value greater than $1 million require a second signature in addition to the signature of the signing officer, which will be obtained based on the requirements of the Procedure for Second Signature Requirements.

All grant applications must be accompanied by the OSR Checklist, which is a tool used by the University to ensure the appropriate validation and approval by the Faculty, of all externally funded research grants and proposed projects agreements. For more information, please see: www.mcgill.ca/research/
research/formsandresources
. The completion of the OSR Checklist by the Faculty Dean or Associate Dean serves to satisfy the requirement for a second signature on grant applications greater than $1 million.

12. What do I need to check before signing a contract? The Policy requires signing officers and delegates to undertake a process of due diligence before signing a contract (article 40). A review the checklist found here is also recommended.
13. When do I need to consult Legal Services?

Unless standard forms of contracts pre-approved for such purposes are used, review by Legal Services is mandatory for any contract of a value above $500 000 or, regardless of the value, in all instances where the contract deals with personal information, presents a significant level of risk particularly with respect to liability and indemnification provisions, could bring the University under public scrutiny, could affect the reputation of the University, involves controversial matters, involves litigation or settlements or includes unusual legal provisions.

14. Do I need to get my contract approved by Procurement Services? Procurement Services has developed a framework of sound operational practices that establishes the rules by which the purchase transactions of its community are measured, including rules for purchase orders over $100,000. Where public tendering procedures have been followed, McGill Procurement Services
will ensure compliance. For your review, please consult (link to www.mcgill.ca/procurement/regulation/policies/purchasingpolicy and www.mcgill.ca/procurement/regulation/policies/signing).
15. What contracts need to be approved by the Board of Governors? Contracts valued above $6 million require approval by the Board of Governors or a Board Committee. In addition, contracts that are not described in Table A and Table B of the Policy, and certain governance items, which can be viewed here, require approval by the Board of Governors or a Board Committee. For
more information please bonnie.borenstein [at] mcgill.ca (contact the Secretariat.)
16. What are the reporting requirements?

With the exception of transactions regularly required for financial systems and procedures necessary for the conduct of University operations (article 15), including, but not limited to, purchase requisitions, purchase orders, advances expense reports and sales of goods and services billed by Finance Accounts
Receivable, and employment contracts, reporting is required on at least a quarterly basis, using the MINERVA tool or another tool as approved by the Secretary-General for such purpose. The delegate must report to the signing officer:

  • on contracts valued at $10,000 or above which have been executed by the delegate pursuant to the delegated authority;
  • on all contracts, irrespective of contract value, which present a significant level of risk that could bring the University under public scrutiny or affect its reputation, involve controversial matter, concern litigation or settlement claims or include unusual legal provisions.
17. How do I report on contracts (via the online MINERVA reporting tool)? To assist delegates in meeting the reporting requirements of the Signing Policy, we have revised the online reporting tool, which is now available through Minerva.
To access it, login to your MINERVA account using your McGill username and password and click on the Signing Policy tab from the menu.
18. What are the reporting quarters? The reporting quarters are aligned with the University’s fiscal quarters:
  •  Q1- May 1- July 31
  • Q2 – August 1- October 31
  • Q3 – November 1- January 31
  • Q4 – January 31- April 30
19. What are the annual reporting requirements? The Secretary-General, in coordination with the senior administration, will monitor compliance and ensure accountability for this Policy. To that end, the signing officers will submit, on an annual basis, a report to the Secretary-General for purposes of reporting to the Audit and Risk Committee on issues of noncompliance
with the Policy.
20. When is the next review of the Policy? The Secretary-General, in consultation with the signing officers, will establish a Steering Review Committee for the purpose of reviewing this Policy at least once every five years. The Secretary-General will submit any recommendations for revisions to the Audit and Risk Committee.
You can submit your feedback to signingpolicy.secretariat [at] mcgill.ca.

 

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