Property Management FAQ's

I need to get rid of an old desk. It's not worth $1. Do I really need to complete a surplus form?

Yes, if Brown owns it, Brown wants to know that you are getting rid of it.  

My laptop was stolen from my office/lab/restaurant booth! What do I do?

 For an off-campus theft: Contact the local police. For an on-campus theft: Contact Public Safety. In either case you will need a copy of the police report. Contact Jeanne Hebert in Insurance and Purchasing Services for information on insurance and replacement. 


Where do I affix the Brown University barcode tag?

 On the front of the machine. Chose a spot where someone is most likely to see it.


What if the asset is internal to a machine?

Affix the tag to the external casing on the machine, otherwise known as its base tag. 


Why are these tags so fragile? I rip them every time I try to affix them.

Tags are required to be destructible. If the tags were easy to remove, there would be no point in using them as people would take them off and be able to steal the asset! Oops! I affixed the wrong tag to an asset. What do I do?   Do not attempt to remove the tag. Tags are destructible and will chip if you try. Send an email to, or call me and I will reissue you a replacement tag. You will affix the correct tag over the incorrect tag. 


I switched tags between 2 assets, can you change the information in the database?

No, the tag numbers cannot be changed. I will reissue 2 new tags.  


What do the tag numbers mean?

Asset tags are usually 6 digits. In most cases: the first 2 digits correspond to the Fiscal year in which it was paid. Exceptions are 99-, and some Fabrication tags. The year 2000 starts with 50-, 2001 with 51-, 2002 with 52-, and so on. 


The equipment I use was bought on my grant/contract so it belongs to me, right?

No. The equipment belongs to Brown. If the sponsored award was issued to Brown University, the equipment belongs to Brown. When you leave, the equipment will stay. 


A faculty member is transferring to a new University and would like to take some property from his lab. What is the process? What documentation is required?


  1. Request from OSP an inventory of equipment assigned to the PI, or by account number.
  2. Take a complete physical inventory of all property in the PI's labs.
  3. Create a list of all property regardless of value or title. This comprehensive list should include a detailed description, model, serial number and asset tag number where applicable, at minimum.
  4. From the physical inventory list, separate:
    Property remaining at Brown.
    Property to transfer the new institution.
  5. Send the transfer list to the Chair and Dean of your division with a memo requesting approval.
  6. Send the list remaining at Brown to OSP. Each asset on the list will need a new responsible person,  and new building and room location if applicable. Graduate students may not act as official stewards of Brown property.
  7. Complete and send the Transfer Release Waiver form to the new institution with the list of property to be transferred.
  8. Complete appropriate surplus forms indicating Transfer as the reason for disposal, send to Purchasing
    Attach proof of division approval
    Attach Transfer Release Waiver form signed by new institution accepting ownership


Can I purchase equipment using my PCard?

No equipment may be purchased with a PCard. Including…

  • Components (of any dollar value) to an existing piece of capitalized equipment or system


What IS Allowed…

  • Supplies charged to an approved fabrication account (these charges will be capitalized upon completion of the fabrication and are not subject to indirect costs)


Be Advised…

  • The PCard restricts the 4xxx subcode series.
  • If you wish to capitalize (and therefore inventory and avoid indirect costs) an item, you must requisition and purchase the item via a regular Purchase Order.
  • If an item bought with sponsored funds is not capitalized, it is generally subject to indirect costs.
  • No expenses will be moved to an equipment subcode (4010, 4020, 4030, 4080, etc.) from another subcode for any reason. Be sure to assign the correct subcode when you requisition the item.
  • A list of subcodes and their descriptions can be found on the Office of the Controller webpage. Contact Doreen Burgers, Director of University Disbursements, with PCard policy questions.


What’s the difference between property and equipment? Aren’t they the same?
Brown considers everything it owns, regardless of value, as property while equipment at Brown has a specific definition, found under the link “Definition of Equipment.”

How are inventory records generated?
Records are added to the property database through several channels:

  1. Purchasing / Account Payable records via FRS purchase orders and payments
  2. Donations via Advancement’s Gift Accounting records
  3. Transfers from outside institutions
  4. Furnished by research award sponsors
  5. Internal Purchase Requisition purchases at Brown Computer Store
  6. Loans

Note: Inventory records are not added until the asset is either formally accepted by the University or fully paid. Please contact the Michelle for information regarding works in progress.