Signature Authority on Grants Policy
Administration and Finance
Fiscal Affairs - Grants Office
This policy outlines signature authority with regard to executing grant proposals, grant awards, and grant related contracts on behalf of Worcester State University. It protects Worcester State University and its employees from legal liabilities and maintains compliance with University, state, federal, private, and other legislative regulations and requirements while performing research and project activities inherent in grants.
The authority to sign a grant proposal, grant award or grant related contract on behalf of Worcester State University rests with the University President and those with delegated authority. The section below lists the four most common types of grant documents that require signature approval and indicates the University positions that have been given delegated signatory authority for them.
Delegated Signature Authority for:
- Grant Proposals – To submit a grant proposal a Grant Approval Sheet must be completed with the following signature approvals: Principal Investigator or Project Director (PI or PD), Department Chair, Dean, Grant Coordinator, Provost or Area Vice President, and the Vice President for Administration and Finance.
- Grant Awards - The WSU President approves the acceptance of a grant for the University.
- Grant Contracts - All grant related contracts must first go to the Grants Office for review and approval. Contracts of less than $2,500 may be signed by the PI/PD; Contracts of more than $2,500 must be signed by the Vice President for Administration and Finance.
- Grant Purchasing documents, hiring documents, time and effort documents, and reporting documents must all be signed and certified by the PI or PD and then sent to the Grants Office for review and approval prior to being sent to the appropriate administrative office.
All documents related to a grant project, including but not limited to proposals, awards, payment vouchers and grant related contracts, must first be processed through the Grants Office.
For a contract to have validity and enforceability, it must be signed by the correct person with specific authority to sign on behalf of the University. If it is NOT signed by the correct person, the contract, grant, agreement, proposal or application is void and unenforceable.
Potential Consequences for Unauthorized Signatures
Some of the consequences that can be incurred when legal documents are signed by the incorrect person include the following:
- The University is not bound by that agreement and is not obligated to provide lab or office space, personnel, accounting, purchasing, or any other support needed to carry out the work described in the grant or sponsored program.
- If Worcester State University facilities and personnel to conduct research or other sponsored activities are used but not correctly approved, the employee may be subject to discipline for misappropriation of governmental property and/or resources.
- Without an authorized signature, the individual who signed the agreement is personally liable for performance of the agreement and adherence to all of the laws, rules and regulations relating to the agreement, including, but not limited to, the Internal Revenue Code and state tax laws. If signed without authority, taxes may be imposed on the entire amount of research funding as personal income to the individual.
- The individual who signs a proposal or agreement without authority to do so and led the sponsor to believe that he/she did have the authority to sign on behalf of Worcester State University, may be subject to claims by the sponsor of the project or the University for fraud or misrepresentation.
- The professional reputation of the individual may suffer if the University is required to go to an organization, after an unauthorized signature has been given, and explain that the sponsor does not have a legally binding agreement with Worcester State University.