Contracting Process

Below are the basic steps and concepts in the contracting process at Howard University, to provide an overview, and assist your understanding of the process vis-à-vis the role of the Office of the General Counsel.

The brief description below should not be used as a substitute for the full process as outlined in the Procurement and Contracting Standard Operating Procedures Guidelines published jointly by the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Procurement and Contracting.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Office and the General Counsel and the Office of Procurement and Contracting have developed a joint Standard Operating Procedures Guidance which covers the contracting process in detail, both from a legal and procurement perspective. You should make yourself acquainted with this document.

Starting the Contract Review

First Step: Initial Forms / Getting Departmental Approval

Regardless of where a contract is initiated, all contracts require completion of a Contract Checklist and a Term Sheet Form. These forms allow for the collection of information which will be important to the proper processing of the contract request. 

Please fill these out fully, being very specific to the particulars of each deal. (Do not use the same filled-out forms for multiple purposes as this defeats the purpose, and may result in delays in review.)

The forms can be found here:  

The forms should be sent to the University officer, or their official designee, who will ultimately sign the agreement for their approval and sign off on the forms.

Another crucial universal requirement is that all contracts that involve the payment of money from Howard University must have a requisition associated with it. The contract requestor is responsible for ensuring that the projected expense has space in the departmental budget. 

Ultimately, the agreement must have a purchase order associated with it.  

Second Step: Determining the Nature of the Contract - Procurement or Not

Every contract either procures goods and/or services or does not. Most contracts do procure goods and/or services. 

Procurement Contracts

Whenever you seek to procure goods and/or services you must start with the Office of Procurement and Contracting (OPC)Again, most contracts fall into this category. 

OPC will: handle the intake; assist with the vetting and sourcing of a vendor, as appropriate; help negotiate business terms; ensure that requisitions are entered and purchase orders are secured and attached; and forward to OGC for legal review, as required. 

Requests for legal review of contracts for the procurement of goods and/or services that are received directly from a source other than Procurement will ultimately be reverted to OPC without legal review, which may result in significant delays in the contract’s approval and execution. It is not necessary to that you develop an agreement before approaching OPC as it is part of their role to negotiate and develop the agreement in coordination with you and the vendor.  

Standard Non-Procurement Contracts (No Money)

There are times when a contract is not a procurement contract because there is no exchange of money to obtain a product or service. 

These contracts do not start with OPC, but require Step One above and delivery to OGC for review, unless one qualifies as a Universal Pre-Approved Template (see Step 3, below).

Special Non-Procurement Contracts

Some contracts are non-procurement contracts partly because of their specialized nature. Examples are: grant award agreements, subgrants, certain subcontracts to federal contract awards, material transfer agreements.

Research Administrative Services (RAS)

RAS is the first stop for research grants and other sponsored programs. These types of contracts generally have special audit and reporting requirements and involve restricted funds accounting.

To the extent that you have a sponsored program that requires that requires a contract to procure goods, or supporting services that do not amount to research, RAS may forward such request to OPC, as this may constitute a procurement event, even though it initiated with sponsored funding. 

Rely on RAS to help make this determination.  RAS will work with you to process all of these agreements and will forward them to OGC, as required.

Office of Research and Regulatory Compliance (ORRC)

ORRC is the first stop for material transfer agreements. These agreements generally do not involve significant cash transfers. 

Third Step: Use of Pre-Approved Non-Review Contract Template

You may be able to avoid legal review for a small grouping of Non-Procurement Contracts. There are a few templates [see links, below], for agreements that do not involve money, that do not require legal review as long as the contract requester follows these rules: 

  1. The template must be filled in on the OGC template [Insert Link] and downloaded or printed from there.
  2. The template must not be modified in any manner, other than filling in blanks only with the information requested.
  3. The template must then be sent to an appropriate person with signature authority.

Note: These Universal Pre-Approved Templates must not be confused with templates that the OGC has provided to OPC for contracts under $60,000, nor with any template that OGC has provided RAS for its use.