|Revision Date||January 15, 2019|
Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) are non-financial agreements DFPS enters into with external parties or stakeholders that do not involve the exchange of money or generate an invoice.
MOUs provide details on how DFPS and the other party will coordinate or collaborate to fulfil expectations. An MOU may be initiated by DFPS or an outside person or entity and may be referred to by other titles, such as “letters of agreement," “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA), or “cooperation agreements.” While MOUs do not exchange funds, specific signature authority guidelines must be followed.
Please note - MOU vs. MOA: For purposes of this policy, the acronym “MOU” will refer to non-financial agreements, with the exception of the specific agreements mentioned below which the agency refers to as MOAs. In these situations, DFPS enters into a non-financial agreement with another party that is similar to an MOU but contains provisions that require contract management responsibilities similar to that of a contract, and therefore must be uploaded to SCOR. These agreements are referred to as MOAs and are used primarily for Title IV-E County Welfare Board (4510NFCCWS) and Non-Financial Residential Child Care (RCC) Services (4515RCC). If you have questions about whether a MOU falls in this category, please send them to Contracts Legal.
Types of MOUs
How MOUs are handled by DFPS depends on the type of MOU – regional or state level:
- Regional MOUs are agreements that concern only regional DFPS policy, programs or practice; the MOU’s activities will be carried out at the regional level and common types include, but are not limited to:
- Children’s advocacy centers;
- Local CASA programs;
- Local domestic violence centers; or
- Various local partners and providers.
Note: If a regional MOU concerns human trafficking or child exploitation, the MOU is handled as a State MOU (see below) and must be routed to the State Office Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation (HTCE) team for review. The HTCE team will seek legal review when needed.
- State MOUs are agreements that concern state-level DFPS policy, programs, or practice, and may include one or more state agencies or other DFPS stakeholders or partners, or institutions of higher education who may conduct research involving DFPS staff, clients, or DFPS information.
If an MOU requires DFPS to provide data to the other party, other than releasable reports from the DFPS Data Warehouse, the MOU is considered a State MOU even if the request only concerns regional data. See Operating Policy for the Release of Data to External Requestors for requirements to release DFPS data to external parties.
Point of Contact Assignment
MOUs must be assigned to a Point of Contact (regional or state office staff) who will be responsible for:
- Initiating DFPS action on a proposed or existing MOU;
- Ensuring that the MOU is revised as needed and DFPS is performing its responsibilities under it;
- Acting as either the DFPS subject matter expert or as a liaison to the subject matter expert;
- Routing the MOU for review by applicable program staff members with appropriate knowledge;
- Routing the MOU for legal review, if needed;
- Routing the MOU for appropriate signature;
- Ensuring the MOU is saved and tracked by the program area; and
- Facilitating amendments, renewals, or termination of the MOU, when appropriate.
Legal Review and Signature Authority
The Point of Contact is responsible for ensuring the MOU is routed for the appropriate legal review and signature, identified below:
Type of MOU
Point of Contact
|State Office MOU (to include grant related MOUs) or Letters of Commitment (LOC)||State Office staff||Policy Legal, required||Associate Commissioner|
|Regional/Local MOU||Regional or District staff for the designated program area (i.e. CPI MOUs should be signed by Regional CPI signatory)||Policy Legal, if needed (see below for requirements)||Regional or District Directors|
Legal Review Requirements
- All State MOUs must be sent and reviewed by Policy Legal in State Office.
- Grant related LOCs must be reviewed by Policy Legal in State Office.
- Regional MOUs only require State Office Policy Legal review when the:
- Other party to the MOU is located in a state other than Texas;
- MOU allows the other party to access DFPS data systems;
- MOU may conflict with statewide policy, practice, or law;
- MOU involves the sharing of office space;
- MOU makes changes to a master MOU approved in State Office that is intended to be used with certain types of other parties, such as CASA, domestic violence centers, Child Without Placement, or Research MOUs; or
- The subject matter expert or Point of Contact responsible for the MOU has any questions or concerns that cannot be addressed by regional, local or state program staff.
- Even if a regional MOU requires Policy Legal review in State Office, this review does not affect the signature authority for the MOU; it will still be signed at the regional level. If an MOU requires Policy Legal review, the Point of Contact should send the MOU to Policy Legal.
Sections of an MOU
If DFPS initiates an MOU, the 4514MOU Template is available that contains all the suggested sections of an MOU.
MOUs initiated or drafted by an outside (external) agency must contain all of the following:
- Names of the parties;
- Point of Contact;
- Purpose and responsibilities or activities performed by each of the Parties; and
- Signatories (signed according to the above signature authority chart).
Ideally, all MOUs would also contain the following sections, which are in the DFPS template:
- Introductory Paragraph - DFPS and the Other Party’s Name (An MOU can be between DFPS and more than one Party).
- A general statement that outlines the broad purpose of the agreement.
- Term – The start and end date of the MOU.
- Annual Review and Termination.
- DFPS POC should review the MOU annually to ensure that it is still accurate and meets the parties’ needs and update it as needed.
- The MOU should allow for termination by either party with usually 30 days’ notice to the other party.
- Amendments – Changes to the MOU must be done in writing and agreed to by the parties.
- Activities each party to the MOU agrees to do to further the purpose of the MOU; and
- Joint activities the parties will do, if applicable.
- Attachments – Documents referenced in the MOU that are considered a part of the MOU should be attached, if any.
Depending on what the MOU is for, the following sections may need to be added. If you have any questions, you can consult with Policy Legal in State Office.
- Confidential Information clause – MOUs that involve the exchange of confidential or personally identifiable information must contain the confidential information clause, which is available in the template.
- Information Security clause – MOUs that allow the other party to access DFPS computer or network systems are required to contain the information security clause. The information security clause is also available in the template.
- Public Information Act – Provides notice to the other party that the MOU is subject to disclosure if DFPS receives a Public Information Act request for the MOU.
MOU Review and Approval Process
- Complete/Review the MOU:
- If the MOU is initiated by DFPS: The Point of Contact will draft the MOU using Form 4514MOU found on the forms page of the Contract Handbook.
- If the MOU is initiated by an outside entity: Review the MOU for completeness using this policy to see if all required and suggested elements are included and adding any missing elements as appropriate.
- Legal Review: Route to Policy Legal email box for review, if legal review required or needed.
- Signature Authority: Route for appropriate signatures, capturing approvals on the 2044 Routing Form.
- Submit completed MOU: Send an electronic copy of the executed MOU to the DFPS Contract Forms email box.
- Subject line should indicate: MOU-Name of other Party-effective date (e.g. MOU-Big Brothers Big Sisters- 9/1/18)
- Contract Oversight and Support will note the staff who submits the completed MOU as the POC, unless indicated differently in the email.
- Tracking MOUs: The Point of Contact is responsible for keeping a copy of the executed MOU, and ensuring the program area is tracking the MOU.