Unlike ordinary supplies, equipment does not incur indirect costs on sponsored awards and needs to be physically tagged as University or government property so that it can be inventoried each year in the University's asset management system. The University cannot purchase equipment for the personal use of an employee or any other person, even if reimbursement is offered.

Before purchasing any equipment, the purchaser must perform a screening to determine that suitable equipment is not already owned by the University and available for the desired use. This step is necessary to avoid wasteful duplication and is required when purchasing equipment with federal funding.

Equipment falls under two broad categories: purchased and constructed.

Purchased Equipment

Purchased equipment is any purchased item with a useful life of one year or more and a per unit cost of $5,000 or more. Software costing more than $100,000 is also treated similarly to equipment. For example, a $6,000 server will qualify as equipment whereas a single order for ten $1,000 individual computers would not.

Constructed Equipment

Constructed equipment includes all costs incurred to construct or assemble scientific and technical equipment used to accomplish a special purpose in the performance of a research project. Billed labor expenses for construction from University recharge (e.g. UChicago Central Shop or Electronics Development Group) or an outside vendor are allowable as constructed equipment expenses, however salary charges for other University employees may not be directly applied to constructed equipment costs. The total cost of constructed equipment must meet or exceed $5,000 although individual orders and components used to build the equipment do not.

Constructed equipment uses the subaccount series 62xx, but expenses should not be charged to the generic subaccount 6200. Instead, one user defined subaccount should be used for each piece of equipment being constructed. This is necessary to enable us to track the total accumulated cost of the equipment. For example, if a PI is building a lunar rover and its delivery vehicle on the same award, then he/she should use two different subaccounts in order to track the costs of the rover and delivery vehicle separately (e.g. rover = 6201, delivery vehicle = 6202).

When a new award is received that contains constructed equipment, the finanical administrator should complete a Constructed Equipment Form as soon as possible to ensure proper accounting.

Subaccount 6250 is reserved for transportation/delivery costs related to moving the equipment from the construction facility to the experiment site.

For more about equipment accounting, see Debt & Capital Asset Accounting.

Contract Deliverables

Equipment purchased or constructed by the University under a contractual agreement with another agency or institution is not considered University property, but rather the property of the entity to which the equipment will be delivered. Such equipment costs must be recorded in subaccount 68xx.

For more detailed information about equipment and asset tracking see the University's Property Management Manual.