Written/compiled by the Brown University Office of Research Administration
- What is Equipment?
- Memory Upgrades
- Component Parts
- Fabricated Items
- Equipment Classifications
- Gift Other Than Money (GOTM)
- Brown Purchased
- Purchased with Federal Funds
- Title Vests with the University
- Purchased with Non-Federal Funds
- Equipment on Loan
- OSP's Role in Property Management
- Department Role in Property Management
- Tagging Procedures
- Updating Information
- Unlocated Property
- Property Transferred to Another Department
- Transferring Property to Another Educational Institution
- Surplus Equipment
- Equipment Disposition
- Dismantled Equipment
- Disposed/Scrapped Equipment
- Sold Equipment
- Returned to Vendor
- Stolen Equipment
- Equipment Purchased with External Funds
- Screening Procedures
- Disposition of Federally-Owned Property
- Fabricated Equipment Policy
- Account Requests
- Approval Process
- Property Inventory
- Periodic Inventory
- Biennial Inventory
- Final Project Inventory
- Composition of the Database
- Asset Data
- Ownership Data
- Acquisition Data
- Other Available Data
- Reports Available
- Glossary of Terms
The management of the University’s personal property is the responsibility of and resides in the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP). This manual sets forth the official University procedures for property management and control. These procedures are designed to meet Federal and University audit standards. Additionally, this manual is intended to be a comprehensive tool for use by University employees to ensure that questions raised in daily activity can be answered by reference to the manual.
In keeping with the goals and objectives of this manual, OSP, Internal Audit, and/or federal auditors will conduct periodic field visits and audits to verify that departmental practices are consistent with this manual. Since each department has the opportunity to maintain its own unique record keeping practices, the purpose of these field visits and audits will be to verify overall compliance with University procedures and prevent audit disallowances. OSP will also make recommendations about each department's record-keeping system in an effort to improve methods where such improvement is warranted.
The objectives of Brown University's Property Management System are as follows:
- To provide an effective management tool
- To develop accurate record keeping and asset control procedures
- To ensure compliance with federal (OMB circulars A-21 and A-110, see glossary), non-federal and University property management regulations
- To provide a basis for minimum property liability insurance coverage
Equipment (also referred to in this manual as property or asset), as defined by Brown University, is tangible, non-expendable, personal property having an anticipated useful life of one year or more and having a unit acquisition cost of $3,000 or greater. The acquisition cost is the net invoice unit price of the property including the cost of modification, attachments, accessories or auxiliary apparatus necessary to make the property usable for its intended purpose. Ancillary charges, such as taxes, duty, protective in-transit insurance, freight, and installation will be included in the overall costs if these charges are listed on the same invoice. Spare or replacement parts, regardless of cost, will be classified as supplies. This definition applies to all equipment borrowed long-term, purchased, or received as a gift or donation.
Any asset satisfying the definition of equipment will be charged to one of the following subcodes (4XXX):
Subcode 4010: Equipment - General
Subcode 4020: Equipment - Furniture
Subcode 4030: Equipment - Computer
If an item of capitalized, inventoried equipment is undergoing an upgrade, the cost of the upgrade, regardless of dollar value, is added to the existing value of the equipment. All memory upgrades to equipment should be charged to subcode 4030. Reference the base asset tag number on your purchase requisition.
A component part adds a new dimension to an existing piece of capitalized, inventoried equipment and increases the value or useful life of the item being enhanced. The component part must have a useful life of one year or more and be permanently attached. Reference the base asset tag number on your purchase requisition.
A fabricated item, constructed to certain specifications, is considered to be equipment if the total cost of the materials used in the fabrication is $3,000 or greater and the useful life of the item is more than one year. Refer to the Fabricated Equipment Policy on page 7 of this manual.Software
All computer software, (excluding the operating system) independent of the initial equipment purchase, should be charged to Subcode 3480; Computer Software.
A. GIFT OTHER THAN MONEY (GOTM) - Equipment donated to Brown.
The Development Office has created a resource manual which provides guidance regarding how to process gifts to Brown University titled Gift Policies and Procedures Manual. Questions regarding procedures for proper handling of gifts to Brown University should be directed to the Manager of Gift Accounting at x3.3796.
Acquisition Code 5
B. BROWN PURCHASED - Equipment purchased with University funds.
Acquisition Code 1
C. PURCHASED WITH FEDERAL FUNDS- Equipment purchased with Federal funds.
Acquisition Codes 4, 6, and 7
1. TITLE VESTS WITH THE UNIVERSITY - In accordance with federal regulations (Property Standards of OMB Circular A-110) equipment purchased with federal funds must be used for the intended purpose for the duration of the sponsored project. If the award on which an item was originally purchased is still active, the proceeds from the sale of the item must be credited to the sponsored project account and may be used towards furthering the goals and objectives of the sponsored activity. Although most items purchased with federal funds are exempt from further obligation to the government, many federal agencies (e.g. Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Army) retain the right to transfer title of equipment for 120 days after the expiration of the project period for grants and up to a full year for contracts.
2. FEDERALLY-OWNED - Equipment under the University’s control to which Federal Government retains title (also called Government-owned Property).
D. PURCHASED WITH NON-FEDERAL FUNDS- Equipment purchased with non-federal or private funds. Title will be determined in accordance with the sponsor agreement.
Acquisition Codes 9 and 10
E. EQUIPMENT ON LOAN- Equipment on loan to the University with which title vests in another organization.
Acquisition Code 3
The Director of Purchasing has been designated as the Property Officer of the University with overall responsibility for the disposition of all property. The responsibility for management of property has been delegated to the Property Systems Manager. It is within OSP that official property records are located and the Property Management System is maintained. Overall property management is achieved through the combined efforts of the Purchasing Department, OSP and the Office of the Controller in conjunction with each individual department, center or program.
OSP’s functions are as follows:
- Managing and maintaining the Brown University Property Management System;
- Monitoring for compliance with sponsor equipment approval requirements;
- Conducting fund approvals of equipment purchases for all grant and contract accounts;
- Screening for like or substitutable equipment before new equipment is purchased;
- Generating system reports and property listings;
- Conducting required physical property inventories;
- Completing reports of federally-owned equipment and other sponsored project property reports;
- Assisting in providing Brown University departments with guidance involving property management issues (i.e., record keeping, surplus property, moving of equipment, etc.);
- Establishing policies and procedures as required to maintain the Property Management System;
- Maintaining communication with government auditors on matters relating to property management;
- Ensuring compliance with University policy.
Any questions regarding property management practices at Brown University can be addressed to OSP, Box 1929, or by calling the Property Systems Manager, x3.1798.
Questions regarding purchasing procedures should be directed to the Purchasing Department at x3.2206. Access their website at www.brown.edu/Administration/Finance_and_Admin/.
Each department must designate a single department property contact. This contact plays an significant role in the property process by ensuring that equipment is consistently accounted for and identified.
The department’s responsibilities are as follows:
- Completing all required property forms prior to action;
- Maintaining accurate property records and communicating all activities to OSP including location and ownership changes, status changes, transfers, etc.;
- Applying bar-code tags and identifying all property within the department's control;
- Maintaining copies of property inventory listings, forms and procedures manual;
- Completing periodic inventories requested by OSP and as mandated by federal regulations.
Each item of equipment must be identified with a unique barcode tag bearing the correct University asset tag number. In addition, items of federally-owned equipment must be identified with federal inventory tags as outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulations, subpart 45.5. Upon acquisition, an appropriate asset tag will be forwarded to the receiving department which then is responsible for affixing the tag to the inventoried item. This tag should be placed in a location on the item where it can be easily found, clearly read and where a barcode scanner can easily scan the tag.
For equipment that cannot be tagged (“untaggable”) because of size, location, or conditions where a tag would be destroyed, the tag should be affixed to the accompanying “base tag” to which it is attached or contained.
When it becomes necessary to change existing data information, (for example change in condition, responsible person, description, etc.), complete and forward to OSP an Inventory Control form (see FORMS section).
Departments relocating property, either temporarily (30 days or longer) or permanently, should complete an Inventory Control form (see FORMS section). Complete, sign and forward the form to OSP. Notification by email is acceptable, and all notification should take place prior to, or within 10 days of the action.
When an entire department or office is relocating, OSP should be contacted in advance to assist in the identification and updating of the items to be moved. OSP can provide a list of property that can be updated, signed and returned in lieu of an Inventory Control form.
If property cannot be located after reasonable efforts on the part of the department, the department will officially notify OSP via an Inventory Control form (see FORMS section).
OSP will code the equipment as unlocated.
Departments transferring property to another department should complete and sign the Inventory Control form (see FORMS section). An authorized department representative from the new department must sign the form, indicating acceptance of the asset. The completed form should be forwarded to OSP. OSP will then transfer accountability of the property to the new department.
When a Principal Investigator (PI) transfers to another educational institution and wishes to transfer University or federally-owned property, s/he must furnish a written request for approval to the department chairperson or senior officer if appropriate.
The PI should fully justify the request and include a list of items, which can be obtained from the Property Management System, to be transferred indicating the Brown University asset tag number, item description, date of purchase, grant or contract number, account number, sponsor, acquisition cost, and current condition. A representative at the business office of the receiving institution must certify in writing that the institution is willing to accept responsibility for the property to be transferred.
The department chairperson has the initial approval authority for the transfer of property. Additional approvals must then be obtained from the Property Systems Manager and the Director of Purchasing. In addition, the sponsor may need to authorize the University to transfer the property. Where title cannot be transferred, the University may be willing to loan property to enable the PI to carry on the research without interruption. OSP will code the equipment as transferred.
(see Purchasing department webpage for policy)
Surplus equipment is defined as University property to be disposed, traded-in, cannibalized, externally donated or transferred, or sold. No item of equipment, whether purchased with University funds or otherwise acquired, may be surplused without the prior written approval of the Director of Purchasing or his/her designee. Sales of equipment between departments are prohibited.
The following procedure shall be used in declaring an item surplus:
The initiating department will complete a surplus form (see FORMS section) and forward it to the Purchasing Department bearing the required signatures. The Purchasing Department will forward it to OSP for title review.
If an item of federally-owned property is declared surplus, the Property Systems Manager will request disposition instructions from the appropriate federal agency. Some private sponsors may also specify retention of title to equipment acquired under a sponsored project. In this case, disposition will be handled as noted for federally-owned items unless specified otherwise in the award document.
If title to the asset is clear, OSP will sign and return the original surplus form to Purchasing. Additional Environmental Health & Safety reviews may be required. Arrangements for pickup and delivery of surplus equipment will be the responsibility of the Purchasing Department via Facilities Management.
A Declaration and Disposal of Surplus Equipment form (see FORMS section) with an authorized department signature indicating that the equipment is going to be traded in must be forwarded by the department to the Purchasing Department for approval prior to action.
OSP will code the equipment as being traded-in.
B. Dismantled Equipment (i.e., used for spare parts)
A Declaration and Disposal of Surplus Equipment form (see FORMS section) with an authorized department signature indicating that the equipment is going to be used for spare parts must be forwarded by the department to the Purchasing Department.
OSP will code the equipment as being dismantled.
C. Disposed/Scrapped Equipment
University equipment can only be disposed of with the written approval of the Director of Purchasing. A Declaration and Disposal of Surplus Equipment form (see FORMS section) with an authorized department signature indicating that the equipment is going to be scrapped must be forwarded to the Purchasing Department. Include any items not returned repaired from Service & Repair.
OSP will code the equipment as surplus, broken or obsolete.
D. Sold Equipment
University equipment can only be sold to outside parties with the written approval of the Director of Purchasing. A Declaration and Disposal of Surplus Equipment form (see FORMS section) with an authorized department signature indicating that the equipment is being sold must be forwarded to the Purchasing Department. No equipment sales to individuals will be approved and are prohibited.
OSP will code the equipment as having been sold.
E. Returned to Vendor
Departments are responsible for reporting to OSP equipment being returned to the vendor. A memo indicating that the equipment has been returned to the vendor, along with supporting documentation should be forwarded to OSP prior to the action.
OSP will code the equipment as having been returned to the vendor.
F. Stolen Equipment
Departments are responsible for reporting stolen equipment immediately to the Brown University Department of Public Safety, who will forward the incident report to OSP. If equipment located off campus is stolen, please provide the municipal police department’s report.
OSP will code the equipment as having been stolen.
Brown University receives support from the Federal Government and other external sources in the form of contracts, grants, and other agreements. Sponsors will sometimes impose unique administrative requirements for property management. All equipment purchases are subject to the terms and conditions of its corresponding award. All persons responsible for purchasing equipment with external funds should be aware of award terms and conditions.
In general, scientific equipment purchases with an acquisition cost of $3,000 or more and having an anticipated useful life of one year or more and all purchases of general purpose equipment (e.g. computers, typewriters, refrigerators, etc.) require prior approval. If approval is not specifically shown in the award document or the approved proposed budget, written approval must be obtained before proceeding with procurement. Some federal agencies have delegated the approval authority for equipment to the recipient institution. The department is responsible for certifying that sponsored funds are available and the equipment will be used primarily or exclusively for the purposes of research.
When prior approval is required from the awarding agency, the Principal Investigator (PI) must send a written request through OSP. The request should include justification, description and cost of the equipment and the reason for availability of the funds. Prior to forwarding the request to the awarding agency, this letter must be signed by the PI and the Director of OSP.
A. Screening Procedures
Federal regulations require that existing equipment be fully utilized prior to purchasing similar or replacement equipment.
The University conducts an internal, campus-wide screening of all sponsored projects equipment purchases having a unit acquisition cost of $25,000 or more. The non-availability of the item of equipment is certified before the equipment purchase is approved.
Retention by the University of federally-owned property may occur when a contract is completed or terminated provided that the government has approved the transfer of title in writing to the University.
If title to federally-owned property remains vested in the Federal Government upon completion of the award or when the property is no longer needed, the University shall report the property to the federal awarding agency for further federal agency utilization. If the federal awarding agency has no further need for the property, it shall be declared excess and reported to the General Services Administration, unless the federal awarding agency has statutory authority to dispose of the property by alternative methods. Appropriate instructions shall be issued to the University by the federal awarding agency.
It is the responsibility of the University to notify, in writing, the federal agency when federally-owned property is lost, damaged, destroyed or consumed. Failure to inform the federal agency may result in University liability to the government with subsequent appropriate reimbursement.
On occasion, equipment cannot be acquired “off the shelf” which meets the need of the intended user(s). In such cases, the equipment must be fabricated from individual parts and built here on campus. The following procedure is for the fabrication of equipment whose total cost of all permanently attached components and material is anticipated to equal or exceed $3,000 and have a useful life of at least one year. The policy, described below, should be used only in those rare cases where the actual piece of equipment is otherwise unavailable and should not be used simply for adding individual components to an existing item of stand-alone equipment (e.g. adding components or upgrades to computers or other existing equipment).
- Component Parts -A component part adds a new dimension to an existing piece of equipment and increases the value or useful life of the item being enhanced. The component part must have a useful life of at least one year.
- Fabricated Items - A fabricated item, constructed to certain specifications, is considered to be equipment if the total cost of the materials used in the fabrication is $3,000 or greater and the useful life of the item is at least one year.
- Parent Account Number –A parent account number is the prime account that contains the original award, less funds allocated to child accounts.
- Child Account Number –A child account number is the sub-account of parent account that draws funds from the parent account. The child account will reduce the parent account’s available funds, to which the costs of the fabricated equipment will be charged.
B. Account requests
Requests for the establishment of a fabricated equipment account should be addressed to the Property Systems Manager, Box 1929. Please complete the Fabricated Equipment Account Request (see FORMS), which includes the following information:
1. A description of the fabricated item to be constructed and a specific “name”
2. Parent account number(s)
3. Cost estimates to be included in the final fabricated item
a. Capital equipment
b. Cost of electrical, electronic, and mechanical components
c. Materials, services and labor. This includes shipping; vendor labor to fabricate/test/install/train; internal job orders; graduate student effort. Include hourly rate and estimated hours of effort.
d. Subcontractors’ costs if applicable
e. Operating software only
f. Other costs (attach explanation)
g. Total budget estimate of all cost.
4. Anticipated completion date of the fabrication. Fabrication must have a completion date equal to or earlier than that of the parent account.
5. Estimated useful life of the fabricated item.
6. Building and room number of the fabricated item and the faculty or staff member responsible for it.
7. Plans for ultimate disposition of the completed fabricated item (e.g. will it remain at Brown, be delivered to sponsor or other third party?)
If the request is not complete, it will be returned to the originator for additional information.
C. Approval Process
For all completed and approved requests:
1. OSP will verify that the total costs that make up the fabricated item equal or exceed $3,000.
2. OSP will verify that the useful life of the fabricated item will be at least one year.
3. The fabricated item must be identifiable as a discrete item and be taggable with the standard Brown University asset bar code sticker (also referred to in this document as “tag”). Parts alone are not considered fabricated equipment.
4. OSP will review for award compliance and, if appropriate, establish a child account for the amount of the budget estimate using funds from the parent account. Please note that the child account will reduce the amount of funds available in the parent account.The child account will have a termination date that coincides with the estimated completion date of the equipment. Extensions are allowable.The account description will indicate that it is a fabrication, such as "FABRICATED EQUIPMENT: HI-TEMP PARTICLE TRANSMOGRIFIER” It may be appropriate for the department to use a special subcode instead of a separate account for fabrications. OSP will advise when this should be done.
5. OSP will verify that the project charges all related costs to the child account using appropriate sub-codes. If additional costs other than those approved in the budget are needed during fabrication, a revised budget must be submitted to OSP for approval.
6. When the Fabricated Equipment Account terminates, OSP will contact the department to certify that the fabrication is complete and that all costs are charged. After receiving the certification, OSP will move any unallowable costs to the parent account or department 2-ledger identified on the form.
7. The Property Systems Manager will then conduct a field inspection of the fabricated item and tag it. If it is determined during the inspection that the item does not meet the minimum criteria for fabricated equipment, OSP will transfer all costs to non-capital equipment sub-codes and these costs will be subject to facility and administration costs (indirect costs).
8. If the fabrication is completed sooner than expected, it is the department's responsibility to notify the Property Systems Manager. If the fabrication is not complete, an extension of time, not exceeding the award end date, should be requested of OSP in writing.
A. Periodic Inventory
Each department will receive an inventory listing and conduct a periodic physical inventory of all equipment as requested by OSP in accordance with University and/or sponsor requirements. Such an inventory shall verify the existence, location, current utilization and continued need for the equipment. Discrepancies between the listing and the physical inventory shall be investigated to determine the nature of inconsistency.
B. Biennial Inventory
Brown University is required by the Federal Government to perform a physical inventory of its property at least once every two years. This requirement is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110. In addition, the University, for institutional management purposes and for insurance purposes, needs to know the status and value of its assets. Each department will be placed on a schedule and will receive an inventory listing and instructions.
C. Final Project Inventory
Upon completion or termination of a grant or contract, a physical inventory of all federally-owned property shall be taken. OSP will conduct the final physical inventory and report the results to the funding agency.
The following is a sample of data elements tracked in the inventory database:
A. Asset Data
Asset tag number - the identifying number assigned to the asset, usually 6 digits.
Eqpt class - the code that indicates the equipment class, (e.g. computing, scientific, furniture)
Vendor - the company or group from which the asset was purchased, or acquired.
Room Tag - the room tag identifies a building and room.
Model - the model description of the item.
Serial # - the manufacturer’s serial number.
Old tag number - the pre-bar-coded asset tag number, if any.
Age - the age of the inventory item in years.
Condition - a condition code with a description
1 Equipment presently in use
5 Equipment not in use
6 Equipment which has been declared surplus
7 Equipment excluded from the Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A)
8 Unlocated equipment
Untagged? - A "yes" means the department has declared that the asset cannot be physically tagged.
B. Ownership Data
Dept - the code and description of the department to which the item is assigned.
Resp per - the code and description of the person to which the item is assigned (not the user)
Owner #3 (Agency) - the code and description of the source from which the funds were made available.
C. Acquisition Data
Method - the code and description of how this item was acquired.
Approval Date - the date the purchase requisition for the asset was approved.
PO - the purchase order/IPR/Job Order number with which this item was purchased.
Requisition - the purchase requisition/IPR/Job Order number with which this item was purchased.
Voucher Date - the date of the last payment voucher.
Acq Date - the date the purchase of the asset was completed.
Cost - the acquisition cost of the item.
Warranty - the government-issued tag number.
D. Other Available Data
Links- one asset may be associated with another. Linked assets comprise of base and sub-asset link types.
Accounts – the ledger account number used to acquire an asset.
Extended Description - the full description of an asset.
OSP has the capability of tailoring property reports to the specific needs of each department in addition to generating standard reports such as:
-Equipment by Account Number
-Full Inventory Listing
In addition, other reports can be uniquely designed to include any database fields currently used. You may request any report from the Property Systems Manager, x3.1798, in the following output:
- Paper copy
- Electronic copy via email (.xls or .dbf format)
OMB Circular A-21, "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions": the Office of Management and Budget circular that establishes principles for determining costs applicable to Federal grants, contracts and other sponsored agreements with educational institutions. To view this document in its entirety, got to URL address:
OMB Circular A-110, "Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations": the Office of Management and Budget circular that sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals and other non-profit organizations. To view this document in its entirety, go to URL address:
Acquisition cost of equipment: the net invoice unit price of the property including the cost of modifications, attachments, accessories or auxiliary apparatus necessary to make the property usable for the purpose for which it was acquired. Other charges, such as installation, transportation, taxes, duty, protective in-transit insurance, shall be included if these costs are listed on the same invoice. Spare or replacement parts, regardless of cost, will be classified as supplies.
Base asset tag: the (asset tag number given to a) piece of equipment that serves as the main unit of a system with numbered components (see link tags)
Cost sharing or matching: that portion of project or program costs not borne by the Federal Government.
Equipment: tangible, non-expendable, personal property having an anticipated useful life of one year or more with a unit acquisition cost of $3,000 or greater. Operating system software is considered equipment.
Excess property: property under the control of any Federal awarding agency that, as determined by the head thereof, is no longer required for its needs or the discharge of its responsibilities.
Exempt property: tangible personal property acquired in whole or in part with Federal funds, where the Federal awarding agency has statutory authority to vest title in the recipient without further obligation to the Federal Government. An example of exempt property authority is contained in the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act (31 U.S.C. 6306), for property acquired under an award to conduct basic or applied research by a non-profit institution of higher education or non-profit organization whose principal purpose is conducting scientific research.
Federal share of equipment: that percentage of the cost, equipment and any improvement expenditures paid with Federal funds.
Link (or sub-) asset tag: The (asset number given to a) piece of equipment attached as a component to a base asset tag. Examples are CPU (base) and monitor (link); microscope (base) and objective (link).
Personal property: property of any kind except real property.
Prior approval: written approval by an authorized official evidencing prior consent.
Property: real property, equipment, intangible property and debt instruments.
Real property: land, including land improvements, structures and appurtenances thereto, but excluding movable machinery and equipment.
Supplies: goods acquired for the purpose of current operation. These items are consumable, perishable or short lived, and are subject to material change. Also included are items of a durable nature with an anticipated useful life of less than one year and with a unit acquisition cost of less than $3,000.
The following forms have been developed for use in recording property relocations and transactions and are included in this section:
- Inventory Control
- Declaration and Disposal of Surplus Equipment
- Fabricated Equipment Account Request Form
Please access http://research.brown.edu/rschadmin/property_forms.php for electronic copies.