Understanding contractual commitments and authority to commit the lab

The director’s Sept. 20 all-hands message on our procurement system highlighted several key topics we all need to understand. One such topic is knowing who has authority to make contractual commitments on behalf of the lab and who does not.

The authority to make contractual commitments outside of the laboratory for Fermi Research Alliance, LLC is delegated to the lab director by the FRA board of directors. This authority is conveyed in writing through the chief financial officer to the acquisition officer (senior procurement officer). Further delegations of authority are assigned at certain dollar thresholds to procurement personnel.

Only individuals possessing specifically delegated written authority may make commitments or sign documents that contractually bind FRA. If you do not hold a written delegation of signature authority, you are not authorized to make any commitments to potential suppliers or subcontractors.

Our suppliers may not know who has delegated authority to commit the lab, so we must be diligent in ensuring our actions do not convey apparent authority where no authority exists. Casual conversation can result in potential suppliers or subcontractors inferring a commitment when none was intended.

You can learn more about delegated signature authority and the ability to commit the lab by visiting the new Procurement website at https://procurement.fnal.gov/atwork/, where these resources are available:

  • Training: The presentation “Committing the Lab: Authorities and Unauthorized Commitments”
  • Policy, procedures and processes:
    • Delegation of Authority lists
    • PPG003 – Signature Authority Process Guide

If you have questions about these resources, contact Po Collins at lcollins@fnal.gov.