format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Purchase Capital Equipment

Capital equipment, also referred to as property, is equipment or material which meets certain qualifying criteria. Equipment can be purchased, fabricated, leased or donated. Sponsor-owned or sponsor-provided equipment (regardless of cost), as well as vehicles, are included. Depending on acquisition method, most are depreciated over a period of time.

For equipment to be considered capital equipment, it must meet the following criteria:

  • The acquisition cost or value must equal or exceed $5,000.
  • The useful life must be more than one year.
  • It must be a tangible item that is stand-alone and moveable.

For additional information, please visit the Property Management Manual, Chapter 1.1-Overview

Property Management Office (PMO)
The Property Management Office (PMO) is responsible for property (capital assets) administration. PMO implements property management policy, procedures, online systems and training to maintain an effective, compliant asset life cycle property system.

PMO is the liaison with property auditors and provides guidance to departments, faculty and staff regarding issues related to property administration and inventory. PMO manages the physical inventory of capital and sponsor-owned assets and also runs the university surplus sales and reuse programs. Learn more about PMO’s role in property administration and contact information.  

Department Property Administrators (DPAs)
DPAs establish and maintain property records for their assigned areas. The DPAs provide guidance to department personnel concerning property matters, such as acquisition, coordination of transfers, equipment custody, asset maintenance, physical inventory and disposal. DPAs are their organization’s liaison with PMO on property related issues. To identify your local DPA, use the DPA Lookup Tool.

PMO's Property Manual, Chapter 1.2, Roles and Responsibilities further discusses these and other roles.

Purchasing is the most common method of acquiring property at Stanford University. Requisitions for property are placed online, using the iProcurement application within Oracle Financials. Capital equipment may not be purchased with a PCard or reimbursed through the Expense Requests System. 

Specific information on purchasing capital equipment can be found within the Property Management Manual, Chapter 2.3, Purchases.

Standard Capital Equipment Orders

Requesters can create a Non-Catalog Purchase Requisition, using the Standard Capital Equipment requisition type. Refer to How To: Create a Standard Non-Catalog Requisition for more information.

  • Standard Capital Equipment requisitions are created and routed by the requester for approval. The DPA must be included as an approver on the routing list and should be the first approver to prevent unnecessary delays.
  • Orders that equal or exceed $25,000 (after taxes and fees) are routed to a buyer in Purchasing & Contracts. Competitive bids and/or a completed Single/Source Justification form must be attached. 
  • Changes to a Capital Equipment Purchase Order (PO) must be made using the Standard Non-Catalog Change Order-Capital template (not the Standard Change Order category). The requester must note the original PO number in the item description for the change to be processed.

SmartMart Capital Equipment Orders 

SmartMart Capital Equipment orders are placed immediately with the supplier after the DPA and financial approvals. Invoices are electronically transferred by the supplier to the Accounts Payable department. SmartMart Catalog Suppliers orders do not go to Purchasing & Contracts and do not require backup documentation. Refer to How To: Order Capital Equipment through SmartMart for more information. 

The acquisition cost is the cost incurred for the initial purchase. When creating the purchase requisition, certain elements of the acquisition cost should be included in the capital equipment cost basis and should use the appropriate capital equipment expenditure type. For expenses that are not allowed in the cost basis, they should be coded with a non-capital equipment expenditure type. For more details, refer to Property Management Manual, Chapter 2.2, Accounting.

Other methods of acquiring capital equipment include equipment leases, donations, loans, incoming transfers from another institution, fabrication and sponsor-furnished property. For more details, refer to Property Management Manual, Chapter 2, Acquisition. If you want to compare the cost of purchasing with an internal loan versus pursuing a lease option, use the Lease vs. Buy analysis spreadsheet. 

Receiving includes the process of accepting delivery of equipment or materials into Stanford University. It is the point at which custody, responsibility, accountability and liability for the property begins.

Receipt of the property must be recorded in iProcurement. Timely receiving for all capital equipment is required and is transacted using the Receiving tab in Oracle iProcurement. Refer to Receiving Goods and Correcting Receiving for more information.

The capital cost transfer process changed on November 14, 2022 as described below. Capital transaction adjustments include changes such as moving a transaction from capital to non-capital, non-capital to capital, changing PTAs or correcting expenditure types. Capital transaction adjustments require Property Management Office (PMO) approval and are processed as a capital cost transfer (CCT) through the Capital Cost Transfer (CCT) Application which is available in SPARC. The CCT allows for the collection of the necessary supporting information in order to centrally process a change or adjustment, as described in Administrative Guide Policy 3.2.2: Cost Transfers.  For an overview and instruction on how to create and approve a Capital Cost Transfer in SPARC, register and complete PMO-5010: Capital Cost Transfer Overview self-paced training in STARS. Learn more on the Stanford Office of Research Administration website.

At Stanford, capital assets are not owned by individual departments, but by the university as a whole and are held in a central asset fund. While there is an expenditure from the purchasing fund, it is not an expense to the university; rather, it is the purchase of an asset.

The treatment of capital assets in the university’s expenditure and fund reports is explained in the job aid Capital Expenditures on Expenditure and Fund Reports.

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2023