Section 20. All contracts on account of any correctional institution of the commonwealth, except those required to be made by the state purchasing agent, shall be made by the commissioner in writing. The commissioner and his successors in office may sue or be sued upon any contract made in accordance with this chapter. No such suit shall abate by reason of said office becoming vacant, but the successor of the commissioner, pending such suit, may, and, upon motion of the adverse party and notice, shall, prosecute or defend it. The commissioner may submit any controversy relative to any such contract, or any action pending on any such contract, to the final determination of arbitrators or referees appointed by the commissioner and the adverse party and approved by the commissioner of administration.