We were recently asked what happens when an individual who signed a research agreement on behalf of a PHSA body leaves their position.
The process for acquiring signatures really involves two sets of responsibilities as described below. First, the person seeking signatures must do their best to ensure that they have selected the correct person to sign the agreement. Second, the person signing on behalf of the PHSA body must recognize that they are binding that PHSA body (and not the individual) to the agreement.
Please consider the following:
1. If you are seeking signatures:
Referencing the PHSA Signing Authority Policy
, item 15 of the Contracting Authority Matrix states that research contracts are to be entered into by the relevant functional officer as set out in the Spending Authority Matrix (which is attached as Attachment 2 to the policy on page 13). The Spending Authority Matrix sets out the spending levels along with the appropriate signing person. Generally speaking, research agreements (unless they are grant agreements) don’t involve money, with most being data exchange/sharing arrangements. In those instances, a person no lower than a Director (e.g., Program Director/Medical Director) should sign off on the agreement. That way, we can be sure that entering into the agreement is authorised by someone who has overall responsibility for the relevant program/area.
2. If you are signing on behalf of a PHSA body:
Those individuals signing on behalf of a PHSA body bind that body to the stipulations within the agreement even if they did not actually have the authority to sign. If you are asked to sign an agreement, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the authority to do so. The other signatories cannot be expected to know our signing process at PHSA. When you sign, you sign on behalf of the body you represent. Even if you leave your position at PHSA, the PHSA body is still bound to the agreement. There is no time limit to the agreement except those limits indicated in the agreement itself. That is why it is vital to keep a repository of all agreements your body has signed over the years. New personnel should be able to review these documents in order to educate themselves about what the body has agreed to over the years.