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Policy for Federal Property Management

Background

The University must properly classify, safeguard and depreciate its equipment as well as abide by federal guidelines and the terms of sponsored awards with respect to the purchase, use and disposition of equipment.  Requirements can be found under OMB Circular A-110.

Definitions

For University purposes, equipment is tangible non-expendable property that has an estimated useful life of greater than one year and a value of $5,000 or more.  Delivery and installation costs included with the initial purchase of the equipment will be recorded as part of the total value of the asset.  Purchases of replacement parts will not be considered equipment. 

If component parts are purchased or designed and assembled, the component parts may cost less than $5,000 individually but will be considered equipment if the final assembled product costs more than $5,000 and has a useful life of more than one year. 

Purchases

All equipment purchased with federal funds must have sponsor approval.  Approval by the sponsor of a budget containing equipment constitutes prior approval.  If the equipment was not included in the sponsor approved budget, a rebudgeting request must be sent to the grants accounting office as well as the sponsor. 

Once purchased, the equipment is to be used on the original project as long as needed.  The equipment must be made available for shared use as long as it will not interfere with the original project.  In addition, there can be no user charge to other departments and the equipment cannot be leased to outside organizations unless expressly allowed by the agency.  Personal use of federally acquired equipment is prohibited. 

Department Responsibility

Departments should provide the care necessary to maintain the equipment in the condition received (normal wear is expected).  Adequate safeguards should be in place to prevent loss, damage, or theft of the equipment. 

Departments are responsible for using the proper account code on vouchers to identify an equipment purchase.  Account code 85045 should be used for equipment.  If the equipment is acquired by any other means than a voucher, the department is responsible for notifying the grants accounting office. 

Each department will assist grants accounting in locating and identifying equipment during the physical inventory.

Tracking Federal Equipment

It is the responsibility of grants accounting to maintain a list of all equipment purchased with federal funds.  The list will be compiled as equipment purchases are identified during the voucher review process.  The list will be reconciled with the asset management system at least biannually.  This list will include:

  • Purchase date
  • Item description including model number and serial number if available.
  • Purchase cost
  • Record of receipt of purchase (copy of invoice/voucher)
  • Funding source used for purchase
  • Principal Investigator purchasing equipment
  • Department
  • Inventory tag number

Grants accounting will assign property tags with unique numbers to all equipment.  These tags will be used to help identify equipment during the physical inventory. 

Physical Inventory

Wesleyan University is required to perform full physical inventory of its federal equipment at least once every two years in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget Circulars A-110 and A-21.  The grants accounting office will conduct this physical inventory.  Before visiting a department, a spreadsheet showing a list of the equipment will be sent to the department.  Each department will review the list and note any changes or discrepancies before the visit takes place.  Each department will assist grants accounting in locating and identifying equipment during the physical inventory.

Disposition of Equipment Purchased With Federal Funds

Prior to disposing of federal equipment, the grants accounting office must be notified.  Grants accounting will need to determine who retains title to the equipment.  In general, equipment purchased with federal funds becomes the property of the University when it is delivered.  There are however some sponsored agreements under which the sponsor retains title to any equipment purchased with sponsored funds.  If title is retained by the sponsor, the agency must be notified if you want to dispose, transfer or sell the equipment.  Once the federal agency is notified, approval must be granted in order for an action to take place.  The money received from a sale must be returned to the agency.

Transfer of Equipment

When a principal investigator moves to another institution and requests transfer of equipment to the new institution, the following standards will apply:

  • Equipment purchased with federal funds may not be transferred to a for-profit institution
  • If an active grant is being transferred to another academic institution, equipment purchased on that grant may be transferred to the new institution in accordance with the terms of the grant.
  • Equipment purchased with federal funds on a grant that is no longer active will be released only if the department chair certifies that the equipment is not useful to the other investigators in the department. 

(revised: 12/15/11)