Guidelines for Written Contracts

Guidelines for determining when MCCCD needs to enter into a stand-alone, written contract.

If you are working on a project cooperatively with an outside entity, or have asked an outside entity to provide goods or services, you need to ask yourself whether that relationship should be reflected in a written contract that authorized representatives of both parties sign. The guidelines below will assist you to make that decision.

A SINGLE WRITTEN CONTRACT IS HELPFUL IN SITUATIONS WHERE MCCCD IS SPENDING MONEY if the description of what you are buying on the purchase order, along with the terms and conditions incorporated into it, don't provide enough detail for MCCCD to be able to:

  • Enforce your expectations of what the contractor was supposed to do or provide, if the contractor goofs up (like some types of equipment and installation purchases) OR
  • Survive an audit, such as one relating to the expenditure of grant funds, under which you are expected to show precisely what the contractor did for the monies paid (like professional services) OR
  • Ensure that MCCCD is adequately protected, such as where the work that the contractor is to perform is particularly risky, and there is a higher-than-normal chance that someone could get hurt (like construction jobs, fireworks, or pest control services) OR
  • Describe how the relationship between MCCCD and the contractor is to work where the contractor is providing services or goods on an "as needed" basis over a period of time (like videotaping football games)

This situation is generally going to arise for small dollar purchases where a vendor provides a quote. However, it may also arise in situations where Purchasing has formally competed for the contract through a full, public competition. The solicitation document that Purchasing issues when fully competing a procurement, combined with the vendor's response, may constitute a sufficiently-detailed contract. On the other hand, MCCCD (that is, Purchasing, Legal and the internal customer) may decide that it isn't sufficient.

TIP: In all cases, the purchase order should always concisely summarize what is being purchased, the duration of contractor performance or delivery dates, any special payment terms, and specifically reference and identify any vendor quote, or a Purchasing solicitation document and the vendor's response to it. 


  • MCCCD needs to ensure contractor accountability, compliance with applicable laws and policies (like contracts with sponsors or instructors of non-credit classes to ensure compliance with privacy laws, insurance coverage)
  • MCCCD is required to do something for an outside party (like permit someone to come onto our property or authorize someone to use our name and logo)
  • The contractor demands protection such as hold harmless terms, indemnification, confidentiality (like MCCCD's lease of commercial space, software licenses)
  • All intergovernmental agreements
  • MCCCD is paid, or receives funding or other support from an outside party to develop a program or a product (like agreement to develop MCCCD digital television channel)

A contract should be used to cover any instance, regardless of cost or duration, where goods/services/vendors are brought to the campus or district office or that will be using MCCCD's name (including all Colleges) and/or institutional marks. This will ensure Maricopa has adequate protections in place in case of a claim, to cover any damages, or simply to ensure the vendor understands the expectations of MCCCD.

Page Updated 11/08/2023