Carnegie Mellon University

Property Management Policies and Procedures

POLICY TITLE: Carnegie Mellon University Property Management Policies and Procedures
DATE OF ISSUANCE: This policy was originally issued to campus in October 1987 as Organization Announcement 291-B, the Manual of Property Management Policies and Procedures. Information was most recently updated in February 2007.
ACCOUNTABLE DEPARTMENT/UNIT: Office of the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Questions on policy content should be directed to the manager of property accounting services, ext. 8-2099
ABSTRACT: Contains policies and procedures regarding property: owned by the university; acquired by Carnegie Mellon and funded under a sponsored research grant or contract; furnished by the U.S. Government or other sponsors and being used as part of a research grant or contract with Carnegie Mellon; owned by other parties (vendors, faculty, staff, agencies, etc.) but being used in a facility owned or leased by Carnegie Mellon.
RELATED SITE: Property Accounting Forms

Property Accounting Procedures Addendum

The Government requires the University to procure, use and control property in accordance with Federal laws, executive orders, instructions from the Federal sponsoring agency and any special instructions contained in the specific grant or contract. It is Government policy to rely upon the University's internal written procedures, subject to evaluation and approval. In addition to the policies relating to Government-owned equipment as described in the Manual of Property Management Polices and Procedures, listed below are fifteen functional areas which require contractor compliance in accordance with the Department of Defense (DoD) Manual For The Performance Of Contract Property Administration (section 4161.2-M). The Office of Naval Research (ONR) reviews these fifteen areas during a Property Control System Analysis (PCSA), which is conducted biennially. ONR is Carnegie Mellon's cognizant agency that insures that Government property is utilized appropriately.

  1. Property Management: The process of maintaining an adequate Property Control System for Government Property; reporting of Lost, Damaged or Destroyed (LDD) equipment; and the process of contractor internal self audit.
  2. Acquisition: The process of acquiring Government property either through requisition or transfer from Government sources or through purchase, including those made from contractor sources.
  3. Receiving: The process of Government property initially entering into a contractor's custody.
  4. Identification: The process of properly identifying Government property.
  5. Records: The official accountable records maintained by a contractor to show status and to control all Government property furnished to or otherwise acquired by the Contractor.
  6. Movement: The process of moving all types of Government property. It includes movement from one point to another within a contractor's facility, movement between facilities, for any purpose, and protection during movement.
  7. Storage: The process of storing all types of Government property.
  8. Physical Inventories: The process of physically locating and counting Government property and comparing it to records of such property, including the posting of findings and adjustments and the reporting of adjustments to the Property Administrator (PA).
  9. Reports: The preparation and submission of reports reflecting the status of Government property as required by contractor regulation.
  10. Consumption: The process of incorporating Government property, of the material or agency peculiar classification, into an end item or otherwise consuming it in performance of a contract. (Not Applicable to Carnegie Mellon)
  11. Utilization: The process of using facilities, special tooling, special test equipment, and agency-peculiar property for the purpose for which furnished or acquired.
  12. Maintenance: The process of providing the amount of care necessary to obtain a high quality of production and the most useful service life of Government property.
  13. Subcontractor Control: The process of prime contractor for control over subcontractors on Government property.
  14. Disposition: The process of disclosing excess, requesting disposition instructions, and effecting disposal of Government property.
  15. Contract Property Closeout: The process of properly closing out the property elements of a contract.

Manual of Property Management Policies and Procedures

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

  1. Responsibilities of Property Accounting
  2. Responsibilities of Department Property Officers
  3. Insurance Information

II.  Capitalization Policy

  1. Movable Assets
    1. Individual items
    2. Accessories to be inserted into movable assets
    3. Fabrications of equipment
    4. Donated items
    5. Leased equipment
    6. Repairs
    7. Moving items, warranty costs, maintenance contracts
  2. Fixed Assets

III. Cost Recovery Methods

  1. Depreciation Policy
  2. Use Allowance Policy

IV. Movable Asset Acquisition and Receiving

  1. Regular Department Purchases of Movable Assets
    1. Property management review of purchase orders
    2. Property management review of invoices, journal entries, and work orders
  2. Items Donated to the University (including items transferred to Carnegie Mellon from other institutions): Individuals, Corporations, Government, other Sponsors
  3. Purchases for Research Contracts:
    1. Required authorizations
    2. Responsibilities of principal investigators
    3. Responsibilites of the Office of Sponsored Research
    4. Screening of government acquistions
  4. Surplus Government Equipment

V. Fixed Asset Acquisition and Receiving

  • Purchase orders, invoices, capital projects

VI. Tagging of Movable Assets

  • Property tags, government tags
  • Locations of tags on items
  • Unnumbered tags

VII. Maintanence of Movable Assets and Fixed Assets

  • Government property
  • Other property

VIII. Space Inventory

  • Floor plans, room classifications

IX. Movable Assets Physical Inventory

  • Floor plans, asset lists, inventory scheduling, exceptions reports
  • Authorization of off-campus use of movable assets

X. Disposal or Re-use of Movable Assets

  • Disposal restrictions
  • Government property shortages
  • Disposal of government property
  • Types of Reports:
    1. Dispose of asset having no value
    2. Sell or donate asset
    3. Trade-in asset on purchase of another asset
    4. Return asset to sponsor after purchase
    5. Return asset to vendor after purchase
    6. Idle asset
    7. Return item to owner
    8. Transfer research project asset to another institutioin
    9. Report lost or stolen asset
    10. "Wanted" items - advertising disposed asset files

XI. Records Retention

XII. Monthly and Annual Reconciliations

  1. Monthly report
  2. Annual use allowance/depreciatioin report
  3. Annual report of disposed assets
  4. Annual report of asset acquisitions by building

XIII. Glossary

  • Terms used in this manual and on department lists of movable assets
  • Other terms used by the government and Carnegie Mellon University in relation to Property Accounting

This manual sets forth policies and procedures for Carnegie Mellon University with regard to:

  1. Property owned by Carnegie Mellon;
  2. Property acquired by Carnegie Mellon and funded under a sponsored research grant or contract;
  3. Property furnished by the U.S. Government (Government) or other sponsors and being used as part of a research grant or contract with Carnegie Mellon; and
  4. Property owned by other parties (vendors, faculty, staff, agencies, etc.) but being used in a facility owned or leased by Carnegie Mellon.

A. Responsibilities of Property Accounting

Carnegie Mellon's Property Accounting Department (Property Accounting) has developed a property management system which provides for assurance of valid data, user support and complete audit trails for inspection by internal departments and external agencies. Property Accounting also has established the policies and procedures incorporated into this manual to control, protect, preserve and maintain all property for which Carnegie Mellon has responsibility. These policies and procedures comply with all applicable government regulations, including United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," A-110 "Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education," and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Carnegie Mellon's centralized property management system includes:

  1. Reviewing all related accounting data submitted in support of property acquisitions. This includes screening certain movable assets owned or controlled by Carnegie Mellon to certify that those assets to be purchased using government funds are not currently available for transfer or shared use.
  2. Maintaining a record for each capitalized item in the Property Accounting Services (PAS) database. These records in aggregate support the net book value of property recorded in the General Ledger. A monthly reconciliation is made between the PAS and the General Ledger for all additions, changes and disposals.
  3. Verifying the correctness of PAS records by conducting physical inventories at intervals of not less than once every 24 months, to insure that the items exist and are usable, used and needed.
  4. Procedures for recycling or disposing of movable assets to insure that:
    • proper control over physical disposition is maintained, and
    • adequate supporting records are kept to document a sale, trade-in or other disposition.

B. Responsibilities of Department Property Officers

Each department is directly responsible for the control, use and security of capital movable and fixed assets in its possession. In accordance with this responsibility, each department is to have a formally appointed Property Officer to provide the main line of communication between the department and Property Accounting. The Department Property Officer and others who are directly involved in equipment purchasing and inventories should be familiar with the university policies and procedures as contained in this manual.

The Department Property Officer should be a business manager or staff assistant who reports directly to the department head. Responsibilities of the Department Property Officer include the following:

  1. Enforce compliance within the department with the university policies and procedures as contained in this manual.
  2. Assist Property Accounting in locating new equipment which requires tagging.
  3. Record the movement and disposal of equipment on the forms provided by Property Accounting, and advise Property Accounting regarding such changes.
  4. Assign or schedule responsible department personnel to assist with physical inventories.
  5. Inform Property Accounting of any space adjustments in the Department Property Officer's areas.

C. Insurance Information

Property is covered by the university's all risk insurance policy, with a $100,000 deductible applicable to each loss. The university has established an internal insurance pool for movable asset losses which are less than $25,000. The annual charge for each department to participate in the pool is based on the total original cost of the department's movable assets in the Property Accounting Services each year as of April 30th. If a single piece of equipment has a cost greater than $25,000.00, only the first $25,000.00 is included in the pool cost calculation. The charge is assessed at the beginning of the following fiscal year and covers all movable assets acquired during that fiscal year provided that Property Accounting has the required information to enter the assets into its system. This includes any items obtained without any General Ledger entries being involved, such as donated items or items on loan. For these, it is the department's responsibility to promptly notify Property Accounting in writing. Exhibit A, Donated Item Receiving Report, is to be used for donated items. Exhibit B, Non-Carnegie Mellon Movable Equipment/Furniture, is to be used for items on loan.

The conditions under which a claim will be paid are as follows:

  1. Theft loss has been reported immediately to Security.
  2. Each loss is subject to a $250.00 deductible unless the equipment is protected by an electronic security system.

Conditions under which claims will not be paid:

  1. Thefts from unlocked rooms and other unsecured areas such as hallways, loading docks, etc.
  2. Thefts of donated or loaned equipment which has not been promptly reported to Property Accounting upon receipt.
  3. Thefts of equipment from off-campus locations if Property Accounting has not received prior notification that the item has been properly authorized for off-campus use.

The Office of Risk Management should be contacted for any further details pertaining to insurance.

A. Movable Assets

  1. Individual items of furniture or equipment, with an original cost of $5,000.00 or more and a minimum useful life of 2 years, are capitalized and charged to the appropriate movable asset account number (see Exhibit C - General Ledger Account Numbers). Original cost includes the cost of the item, less any applicable discounts, plus any delivery charges and cost of installation. All of these costs are recorded as having been incurred on the asset's acquisition date. The cost also includes any modifications, attachments, accessories, or auxiliary apparatus (accessories) which are acquired with the item and are necessary to make the item usable for its acquired purpose. Such accessories acquired after the capitalized item and with costs less than $5,000.00 are not capitalized and are charged to non-capital account number 8905.
  2. The acquisition document for an accessory with an original cost of $5,000.00 or more, which is to be inserted into an existing movable asset, must state the Carnegie Mellon asset number or original purchase order number for the existing movable asset. If this information is not provided, the accessory will not be capitalized regardless of its value.
  3. Equipment fabricated at Carnegie Mellon by Carnegie Mellon University personnel is capitalized if it meets Carnegie Mellon's capitalization requirements. The following procedures are applicable:
    1. Departments are to use Exhibit D, Request for New Center or Account Number, to request a fabrication or project account number. Include the title, begin and estimated end dates, center(s) involved, separate dollar totals budgeted for labor (fabrications only), supplies and capital equipment to be charged to the fabrication project account, as well as appropriate authorized signature(s). Send Exhibit D to Property Accounting.
    2. Property Accounting will assign a fabrication (project) account number and an asset number tag after obtaining the written approval (where applicable) of the Office of Sponsored Research (centers 1-4XXXX and 1-5XXXX) on Exhibit D. Where applicable, the Office of Sponsored Research will contact the requesting department if a fabrication account number is not approved.
      1. Property Accounting will send a copy of Exhibit D to the requesting department, the Office of Sponsored Research (where applicable), and Accounting. Property Accounting (and the Office of Sponsored Research, where applicable) will monitor the activity in the fabrication (project) account and investigate deviations from the information provided on Exhibit D.
      2. All items acquired, as well as all labor involved in the fabrication (project), are charged to the fabrication (project) account number by the department. If any capital equipment items are included, they are to be clearly identified as such on the purchase orders, bills of sale, or journal entries. For those capital equipment items, Property Accounting will assign individual asset number tags.
      3. For a capitalized fabricated (project) unit, the acquisition date is the date of the first cost. Other costs are subsequently added to the original cost as incurred, but the acquisition date is not changed.
      4. Any items known to have been part of a fabrication account, but the center numbers are not now known, are listed in the PAS in center 1-9111.
  4. Donated items, with a fair market value of $5,000.00 or more per item and a minimum useful life of 2 years, are capitalized. The fair market value of each item is used as its "original cost" in the PAS and recorded as a "gift-in-kind," charging the appropriate movable asset account number.
  5. Leased or rented equipment (fund code "C") is capitalized at its fair market value if at the inception of the lease:
    1. The fair market value is $5,000.00 or more, as determined by the Purchasing Department, and
    2. The lease transfers ownership of the property to Carnegie Mellon by the end of the lease term, or
    3. The lease contains a bargain purchase option, or
    4. The lease term is 75% or more of the estimated economic life of the leased property, or
    5. The present value of the rental or minimum lease payments equals or exceeds 90% of the fair market value of the leased property.

    The Manual of Purchasing Policies and Procedures provides guidance in determining "lease vs. buy" decisions. Government regulations permit lease or rental costs to be part of cost recovery if (a) the rates are reasonable at the time of the decision to lease or rent, and (b) the cost recovered does not exceed the purchase price on the date the property was leased or rented.

  6. Repairs are not normally capitalized but charged to account number 8272. However, repair costs of $5,000.00 or more may be capitalized if they extend the item's useful life 2 years or more beyond its original life. This fact (if applicable) must be stated on the purchase order by the ordering department.
  7. The following are also not included in capitalized costs:
    1. Demolishing or dismantling equipment (charge account number 8500).
    2. Rearrangement, transfer or moving of capitalized items from one university location to another, including costs incurred in dismantling, transporting, reassembling and reinstalling such items in a new location (charge account number 8500).
    3. Warranty costs or maintenance contracts (charge account number 8277).

B. Fixed Assets

  1. Land (Class Code 001) is capitalized but not depreciated; land improvements (Class Codes 005-009) are capitalized and may be depreciated.
  2. Existing buildings and new construction are capitalized (Building Class Codes 010 through 099).
  3. Additions and renovations to buildings must be (a) greater than $5,000.00 for individual items, or (b) project costs of at least 20% of the total building cost or $100,000.00, whichever is lower. Examples of renovations are as follows:
    1. Adding additional square footage to an existing building.
    2. Remodeling an existing building, including floor covering, etc.
    3. A completely new heating, cooling or plumbing system.
    4. Extending wiring or plumbing to an area previously without such.

Replacements or repairs that maintain or restore a building are not capitalized. For example, the cost of replacing worn sections of a roof are not capitalized, but the cost of replacing an entire roof is capitalized. Thus, a capitalized replacement is the total replacement of a unit with a new unit that serves the same purpose and has approximately the same expected useful life as the unit being replaced.

Building costs are not reduced for materials, carpeting, etc., removed during building renovations unless a specific line-item in the PAS can be identified as being removed.

A. Depreciation Policy

The university switched from use allowance to depreciation for cost recovery of movable assets beginning July 1, 1986. Depreciation is calculated by the straight-line method - i.e., an equal amount of the original cost per year over the life of the asset. Depreciation is calculated from the day of acquisition to the day of disposal. In addition, the university switched from use allowance to depreciation for cost recovery of fixed assets beginning July 1, 1988. While both groups employ the straight-line method, when calculating depreciation for fixed assets, the half-year convention is utilized whereby a half-year of depreciation is taken for the fiscal year of acquisition and a full year taken for each subsequent year except for the final year, when the final half-year is taken.

B. Use Allowance Policy

Building acquisition costs are normally recovered at the rate of 2% per year based on a 50-year useful life standard. Equipment acquisition costs are normally recovered at the rate of 6 2/3% per year based on a 15-year useful life standard. In some cases, exceptions to these useful lives may be authorized by the government. This recovery commences the beginning of the fiscal year of acquisition for equipment or the first fiscal year that a building is substantially complete. It stops at the end of the fiscal year of disposal.

A. Regular Department Purchases of Movable Assets

Property Accounting Review of Purchase Orders:

A purchase order, placed by the university in accordance with the Manual of Purchasing Policies and Procedures, normally initiates the purchase or procurement of property. All purchase orders and changes to purchase orders submitted each day are reviewed by Property Accounting for items meeting capitalization criteria or to be included in the PAS for other reasons within the following categories:

  1. Items charged to capital furniture, equipment or software account numbers 8913, 8916 and 8919.
  2. Items charged by ordering departments to rentals and leases account number 8252 for equipment having a purchase price of $5,000.00 or more, as determined by the Purchasing Department.
  3. Items charged by Facilities Management Services to repair and maintenance account number 8272 for equipment having an estimated purchase price of $5,000.00 or more.
  4. Items charged to non-capital equipment and furniture account numbers 8905 and 8906 if the items are the same as or similar to other items previously acquired for more than $5,000.00.
  5. Items on trial or loan (for more than 90 days) having a purchase price of $5,000.00 or more, as determined by the Purchasing Department. Departments are to use Exhibit B, Non-Carnegie Mellon Movable Equipment/Furniture, to notify Property Accounting of the receipt of such items. A copy of Exhibit B is to be given to the owner.

Each item ordered must have its noun description on the purchase order. The building, floor, and room number where the item is to be used should also be included. In addition, where there are multiple lines of items, the purchase order should note if any of the items will be used together. (For example, items 2 and 4 will be used with item 1.) The "requested by" space on the purchase order should include the name of the person who will receive the item. Blanket purchase orders may not be used for any of the categories noted above (a thru e) except for rentals and leases. Purchase orders involving trade-ins must show the cost of the new item less the trade-in amount, and the Carnegie Mellon asset number of the trade-in. (See trade-in procedures in Section X under Disposal or Re-use of Movable Assets for further information.)

Property Accounting resolves any exceptions, where necessary, with the ordering department. Copies of the purchase orders are then made for Property Accounting's file. These copies are reviewed quarterly to investigate purchases which are not being cleared in a reasonable time.

Property Accounting Review of Invoices, Journal Entries and Work Orders
    1. Invoices:

      Each day Property Accounting reviews vendor invoices being processed by Accounts Payable for capitalization criteria and account number errors. Copies of all invoices affecting the PAS are matched and checked against copies of purchase orders being held in Property Accounting's "open" file. The date of expense of the invoice is determined via Accounts Payable or other Accounting Department computerized records. The date of expense and the account number charged are then marked on the invoice copy for entry into the PAS.

      When a copy of an invoice is obtained by Property Accounting, a tag is assigned to each item. The tag's pre-printed asset number is written on Property Accounting's copy of the purchase order and the tag is attached to the document. Each item for which title remains with the government has a "Property of U. S. Government" tag also attached to the document. The data is then entered into the PAS and the document package is put in Property Accounting's file for tagging at a future date.

      At the time that an ordering department approves an invoice for payment, that department must provide the following information to Property Management for each movable asset acquired:
      1. Building and room location where the item is to be used
      2. Serial Number of the item, where applicable
      3. Line Number on the purchase order for the item
      This information is sent promptly to Property Accounting via one of the following means:
      1. Copy of the Purchase Order or Invoice
      2. Written memo
      3. Other means approved by Property Accounting
    2. Journal entries:

      Copies of journal entries affecting movable assets are sent daily by Accounting to Property Accounting. These journal entries must indicate the Carnegie Mellon asset number of the movable asset involved, or the original purchase order number. If this information is not provided, the journal entry will be returned to the department which prepared it. Accounting also provides data to Property Accounting relating to any entries affecting fabricated equipment account numbers. After this data is entered into the PAS, the applicable documents are then filed under the Carnegie Mellon University asset number in Property Accounting's "closed" file.

    3. Work orders:

      If alterations or renovations to a building are not part of a capital project, a department submits a work order requisition to Facilities Management Services (FMS). Facilities Management Services submits a purchase order to Purchasing for any necessary materials and movable assets. The purchase order indicates the FMS work order number. Property Accounting makes a copy of the purchase order and requests a copy of the completed work order from FMS. Any labor and materials associated with the installation of movable assets are charged by FMS to the requisitioning department's center and account, as are the costs of the movable assets. If the cost of a movable asset, including the cost of labor and materials for installation, is $5,000.00 or more, Property Accounting prepares a journal entry to capitalize the item. This charge is to the requisitioning department's center and account number 8916. The credit is to the requisitioning department's center and account number originally charged by FMS. Copies of the purchase order, work order and journal entry are then processed for tagging and filing as noted in paragraph A. Invoices.

B. Items Donated to the University (including items transferred to Carnegie Mellon from other institutions)

Donated movable assets ("gift-in-kind") are included in the overhead cost recovery calculation for sponsored research. Therefore, it is beneficial to all Carnegie Mellon University personnel that these assets are properly recorded on a timely basis.

        1. Where a vendor invoice is not involved:

The donee department completes a Donated Item Receiving Report, and sends the form to Property Accounting. Property Accounting notes whether a response is needed from Development, and then forwards a copy to the Records Section of the Development Department. Development prepares either Gifts in Kind from Individuals, Corporate Donations of Property, and sends the form to the donor to obtain and document a fair market value or appraisal value for the item(s). Development also sends a copy of the form to Property Accounting if requested. If the donor is the government or other sponsor, Property Accounting sends a copy of the form to the Office of Sponsored Research. The Office of Sponsored Research notifies the cognizant Government Property Administrator of the receipt of such items. The donor returns the form to Property Accounting. If any donated item noted on the form qualifies as a capital asset, Property Accounting makes a copy of the returned form and matches the copy with its filed copies. Property Accounting sends the original of the donor's returned form to Development.

Where movable assets are involved, if the donor does not return the form within one month, Property Accounting obtains the fair market value from the Purchasing Department and enters those amounts into the PAS. When the donor's completed form is received, appropriate adjustments are made to the PAS where necessary.

      1. Where a vendor invoice is involved:

        Property Accounting sends Corporate Donations of Property form to the vendor. The donation may be one of the following:

        1. The invoice states that the gross cost has been reduced by an "allowance" or includes other information which indicates the vendor is treating a portion of the item as gift-in-kind. The item purchased is recorded on the PAS (if the item's total unit value is $5,000.00 or more) at net cost plus the gift-in-kind amount.
        2. Carnegie Mellon receives a "free" item when one or more similar or dissimilar items is purchased. An example of a "similar" item would be a department's purchase of 5 computers at their normal Carnegie Mellon price, while receiving a 6th one at no extra cost. An example of a "dissimilar" item would be a department's purchase of a copier at its normal Carnegie Mellon price, and also receiving a typewriter at no extra cost. The normal Carnegie Mellon price of the typewriter is over $5,000.00. Procedures are as follows:
          • The purchased item is recorded on the PAS at net cost if the item's unit value is $5,000.00 or more.
          • The free item is recorded on the PAS as a gift-in-kind if the item's unit value is $5,000.00 or more. The item is recorded at the net unit cost of the purchased item if similar and known, or at fair market value obtained by Property Accounting from the Purchasing Department.
        3. It is the responsibility of Property Accounting to notify Development at the close of each month concerning any gift-in-kind items where a vendor invoice is involved.
      2. It is the responsibility of Property Accounting to reconcile its records monthly concerning all gift-in-kind items with Development's report of "Details of Gifts Received for Fiscal Year to Date." At the end of each fiscal year, Property Accounting prepares a report summarizing all gift-in-kind items and provides copies of the summary to Accounting and Development.
        1. Property Accounting prepares journal entries monthly for any non-capital gifts in kind as noted below.

          Items are charged to one of the following accounts:

          • 5-00000-2401 - Non-capital gifts-in-kind - rare books, manuscripts, non-capital equipment and furniture.
          • 5-00000-2402 - Non-capital gifts-in-kind - art objects and costumes.

          Items are credited to the following account:

          • 5-90000-8905 - Those items that were charged to 5-00000-2401 or 5-00000-2402 and exist in a campus building other than Mellon Institute.
          • 5-90001-8905 - Those items that were charged to 5-00000-2401 or 5-00000-2402 and exist in Mellon Institute.
        2. Property Accounting prepares journal entries monthly for any fixed asset gifts-in-kind as noted below:

          Items are charged to the following accounts:

          • 5-00000-21XX - Utilities and Building-related Assets (the Xs identify the building).

          Items are credited to one of the following accounts:

          • 5-90000-8901 - Those items which exist in a campus building other than Mellon Institute.
          • 5-90001-8901 - Those items which exist in Mellon Institute.

C. Purchases for Research Contracts

Required Authorization

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator of the project to (1) initiate the necessary papers for obtaining sponsor-furnished property, and (2) provide information required to establish and maintain university records. These papers and information are sent to the Office of Sponsored Research. It is the responsibility of the Office of Sponsored Research to obtain any prior approval authorizations from the sponsor concerning Carnegie Mellon University-purchased property. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to prepare the Equipment Screening Report form for any Carnegie Mellon University-purchased property for use with government contracts. Government regulations require such screening to determine that "the need cannot be met with property already in the possession of" Carnegie Mellon.

The procedures are as follows:

University-wide pre-purchase screening is required for equipment purchases of $100,000.00 or more per item. The form is to be used for this screening process. This form is sent to Property Accounting. The completed form, with a list of comparable items, is returned within 3 working days to the requestor for investigation. If equipment identified is similar and available for shared use, a Shared Use Agreement may be prepared and completed if desired or required by the lender. Copies of the agreement are provided to the borrower, lender, the Office of Sponsored Research and Property Accounting. If the screening process does not identify similar equipment for shared use, the Screening Request Form is attached to the purchase order and sent to the Purchasing Department. Property Accounting's list of comparable items, with notes as to the requestor's review, is attached to the ordering department's copy of the purchase order and kept on file there.

The Office of Sponsored Research sends a copy of the Request for New Center or Account Number, (or other written notice) to Property Accounting for each sponsored project that involves any capital equipment acquisitions. The Office of Sponsored Research uses the "Additional Information" space on Exhibit D to state whether title to the equipment is to be vested in the university or the sponsor. Property Accounting maintains these forms in a file by center number. All copies of purchase orders which indicate center numbers for sponsored research (1-4XXXX or 1-5XXXX) are checked against the file for proper authorization, including title information, prior to being put in Property Accounting's open purchase order file. The title information is noted on the copies of the purchase orders for subsequent data entry into the PAS. If government-titled equipment is authorized for transfer to a center other than that for which it was originally acquired, Property Accounting will make the change in its PAS but no entries will be made in the General Ledger. To the extent of any inconsistency between these procedures and the terms of a sponsor grant or contract under which property is provided, the terms of the grant or contract shall govern. Carnegie Mellon is directly responsible and accountable for all sponsor property in its possession, unless otherwise provided by the grant or contract. This includes sponsor property in the possession or control of a subcontractor. Subcontractors are responsible to comply with Carnegie Mellon's Property Accounting policies and procedures where applicable, unless the subcontractors have approved systems of their own.

The Principal Investigator is the custodian of the project property and is directly responsible for its use, maintenance, and protection. Title to project property rests with the sponsor or Carnegie Mellon in accordance with the terms of the grant or contract. It is the responsibility of the Office of Sponsored Research to submit property inventory reports to sponsors as required by the grant or contract.

D. Surplus Government Equipment

Property Accounting maintains lists of surplus equipment available from the government. These lists are available for review in the Property Accounting Office, 407 South Craig Street, by all departments of the university. Any surplus equipment obtained from the government, for use other than on a research contract, is entered into the PAS with center 1-50000. Government restrictions may apply to particular items regarding their title, use and disposal.

Purchase orders are the normal basis for acquiring fixed assets as well as movable assets. All purchase orders and changes to purchase orders for fixed assets, submitted each day, are reviewed by Property Accounting for those items charged to account number 89XX as well as capital building account 5-8XXXX-8XXX. This includes all building costs associated with new construction, additions, and renovations to be capitalized. Each item ordered must have the noun description of the item on the purchase order.

Property Accounting gathers copies of purchase orders, invoices and any applicable journal entries to fixed asset accounts. Any exceptions, where necessary, are resolved with the ordering department. The documents are then put into Property Accounting's construction-in-progress fixed assets files. In account 5-8XXXX-8XXX, the first "X" in the 5-8XXXX center number is the fiscal year in which the project is initiated. The other three Xs in the center number indicate the particular project. The Xs in the account number identify the kind of expense. Each 5-8XXXX center number remains in effect for the life of the project in order to accumulate all related costs.

When a capital project is substantially completed so that the area(s) of the buildings involved may be used for the purposes intended, all costs are totaled by account number. Those totals (except for movable assets accounts 8913 and 8916) are used by Property Accounting to prepare the necessary entries to capitalize the costs and enter the data into the fixed PAS. The documents are then put into Property Accounting's closed files.

Standard reports for fixed assets provide (a) original cost and depreciation or use allowance amounts on individual records, summarized by building; (b) a listing of current year capital additions to new and existing buildings; and (c) a listing of current year deletions of buildings.

Property Accounting personnel are responsible for the placement of Carnegie Mellon asset tags on movable assets when they are received. Any movable assets for which title is held by the government (Fund Codes G or E) also receive "Property of U.S. Government" tags. Departments receiving items may notify Property Accounting of the purchase order number by phone to arrange for tagging. In addition, a department, at its request, may enter into an agreement with Property Accounting whereby the department does its own tagging under Property Accounting's supervision in conformity with the university's property management policies and procedures.

If an item to be tagged cannot be located by the ordering department or Property Accounting, a red sticker is put on the purchase order or other source document for Property Accounting's files. The department's inventory list will have a "not tagged" message with each of these unlocated items.

Procedures for affixing tags are noted on Locations of Tags on Movable Assets. As a general rule, tags are placed on all movable assets. This includes any equipment or furniture with a unit cost of $5,000.00 or more and a useful life of 2 years or more which is being used by Carnegie Mellon personnel and which:

  1. Is owned by anyone other than Carnegie Mellon (faculty, staff, government or other sponsors of research, other parties) and
  2. Is located in any room owned or leased by Carnegie Mellon, either on or off campus.

Such equipment is tagged and listed in the Carnegie Mellon University PAS for insurance, security, and control purposes, but not capitalized. The Non-Carnegie Mellon Movable Equipment/Furniture form is used to record these items and report them to Property Accounting and a copy is given to the owner.

Pre-numbered tags are used on most assets. However, unnumbered tags are used with items having a value less than $5,000.00 but considered the same as or similar to another item previously acquired for more than $5,000.00 (for example: terminals, printers, etc.). The purpose of this is to eliminate the need for Property Auditors to spend time with department personnel during physical inventories to determine why the item is not tagged. These items are not capitalized or listed in the PAS; they are charged to account 8905 or 8906.

Maintenance of all government property is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator. Maintenance of all other sponsor and Carnegie Mellon University property is the responsibility of the Departmental Property Officers and their personnel. This includes returning warranty cards as well as regular or periodic maintenance such as lubrication, cleaning or calibration. Maintenance should be performed in accordance with sound industrial practices and the terms of the grant or contract. Appropriate maintenance schedules may be determined by consulting equipment technical manuals. Carnegie Mellon's maintenance program also includes the inspection of buildings by Facilities Management Services personnel at periodic intervals to assure detection of deterioration and the need for repairs.

Records of maintenance actions performed, and any deficiencies discovered as a result of inspections, are to be maintained by the persons responsible for maintenance. Maintenance costs are not capitalized.
The Property Accounting Services and Indirect Cost offices are responsible for accounting for the allocation of space to departments within each Carnegie Mellon University academic, research and administrative building. Every room of these buildings is identified as to the using department, the function within the room, the room use code, the room area and other associated information. Space information is used for cost accounting, indirect cost distribution, property inventories, planning and analysis.

For consistency among the space, movable assets and fixed assets records, Property Accounting assigns and maintains all building and room numbers. (See Exhibit J for building numbers.) Contractors or FMS personnel are responsible for physically placing those room numbers on doors, etc.

Property Accounting conducts periodic space reviews of the academic, research and administrative buildings. Any space changes reported by Department Property Officers are entered into the Space database.
At a minimum, physical inventories are conducted in every department every two years. In preparing to inventory a department, the Property Auditor gathers and reviews:
  1. Floor plans of the areas to be inventoried, as well as room classification lists for those areas. These rooms are checked against the lists provided to Property Accounting by the Environmental Health and Safety Manager concerning the locations of possible radiation and/or chemical exposure on campus.
  2. Lists of the assets to be inventoried.
  3. Documents (with tags attached) in Property Accounting's files, including items being fabricated.
  4. Lists of the assets covered during the last inventory.
  5. Copies of Authorization for Off-Campus Use of Movable Assets forms (Exhibit K). Exhibit K is to be used to record and authorize the use of movable assets in buildings not owned or leased by the university. Such movable assets are the property of Carnegie Mellon University, the government or other sponsors or agencies, and are being used by faculty or staff in their homes, as well as items loaned to other parties for off-campus use. Government property may not be loaned to any organization outside of Carnegie Mellon without prior written government approval. This approval is obtained by the Principal Investigator and kept in his/her file. In such cases, the Principal Investigator is to notify Property Accounting by means of Exhibit K. Property Accounting periodically confirms a sample of the off-campus assets with the users. The Property Auditor then meets with the department's Property Officer to review these documents, locate and tag items, and discuss any other factors which might affect the inventory (such as items out for repair or loan, status of items being fabricated, areas difficult to inventory, locations of potentially hazardous materials, etc.). They agree on a date to start the inventory as well as an estimated time to complete the job. The department Property Officer alerts the affected personnel in the department concerning the planned inventory in order to have as much cooperation as possible.

The inventory covers all rooms assigned to the department. Room numbers and room shape are checked to the floor plan of the building and the room classification list. Also, any exceptions concerning the locations of radiation and/or chemical exposure are reported to the Environmental Health and Safety Manager. Movable asset ownership is checked with the responsible room occupant. All other information on the inventory listing is verified, marking any changes necessary. Any items that are found in a room and that appear to meet the criteria for capitalization, but not listed on the PAS, are recorded on separate data entry forms (Exhibit L, Physical Inventory Form.

When the physical inventory is complete, the Property Auditor works with the department Property Officer to clear the exception lists. One type of exception is an item found but not listed in the inventory. If reasonable efforts fail to produce a purchase order or other original document, the department Property Officer provides a memo to Property Accounting estimating the item's acquisition date, original cost, condition, center and origin. If it is determined that the item is to be capitalized, an inventory tag is put on the item. The item is then entered into the PAS as an inventory adjustment. The following center numbers are used as applicable:

center number Fund code
1-91111 L, R, U
1-5XXX (applicable contract) F, G, E
1-4XXX (applicable contract) D, S
1-41000 (if contract not known)  D, S
1-50000 (if contract not knowm) F


If it is determined that the cost is less than $5,000.00 and not to be capitalized, an unnumbered tag is put on the item and the exception list is noted accordingly.

If, however, a purchase order or other original document is located, and it is determined that (a) the item was improperly expensed at the time of acquisition, and (b) an adjustment cannot be made in the Accounting records to capitalize the item, then the item is tagged and entered into the PAS as an inventory adjustment, using the information on the original document.

If an item has a numbered tag on it but is not listed in the inventory, and investigation indicates that the item has been tagged incorrectly (item under $5,000.00 and not to be capitalized; etc.), the numbered tag is removed by the Property Auditor. No adjustment is made in the Accounting records. If there is any possibility that the item could be questioned in subsequent inventories as to whether it should be tagged, an unnumbered tag is put on the item. Unlocated items are coded "U" in the qualifier field on the PAS. Any items unlocated after 2 consecutive physical inventories (using the 1985-1987 cycle as the first) are treated as inventory adjustment disposals. The date of the latest physical inventory is recorded with each asset in the PAS. All physical inventory documents are filed by department in the Property Accounting Department and retained for 2 physical inventory cycles. A report of exceptions (items unlocated, as well as any items not in use) is sent to the department head after review with the department Property Officer. The department head is to submit a written response within 30 days of the Property Accounting report date. After updating the PAS for any changes provided by the department head, Property Accounting then sends a final report to the appropriate dean and senior management.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), scientific equipment donated to Carnegie Mellon by manufacturers for research, experimentation or research training may not be transferred to other parties by Carnegie Mellon in exchange for money, property, or other services. Other donated equipment may also be restricted as to disposal. In addition, a donee organization who sells, exchanges or otherwise disposes of charitable deduction property within three years after the date of receipt of the property must report the information on IRS Form 8282 (Exhibit V). It is Property Accounting's responsibility to submit this completed form, where required, to the IRS and the donor.

Subject to the terms of the grant or contract, Carnegie Mellon may be liable when shortages of government property are disclosed or when government property is lost, damaged or destroyed, or when there is evidence of unreasonable use or consumption of government property as measured by the allowance provided by the terms of the grant or contract, the bill of materials or other appropriate criteria.

The Office of Sponsored Research reports all cases of loss, damage or destruction of government property in Carnegie Mellon's possession or control to the Government Property Administrator as soon as such facts become known or when requested by the Property Administrator. The report contains all factual data on the circumstances surrounding such loss, damage or destruction. For any Carnegie Mellon subcontractors with government property in their possession or control which is accountable under a grant or contract, Carnegie Mellon requires the subcontractors to report all instances of loss, damage or destruction of such government property to Carnegie Mellon's Principal Investigator who advises the Office of Sponsored Research and Property Accounting.

It is the Office of Sponsored Research's responsibility to submit to the government all final reports and requests for authorization to dispose of government property upon completion of a grant or contract. The Office of Sponsored Research notifies Property Accounting of the final disposition of the property by written memo so that the items may be removed from the PAS.

In order to comply with these and other Carnegie Mellon requirements, departments must notify Property Accounting concerning any property which is idle, no longer usable, damaged beyond repair, or which the department is disposing. For those movable assets being sold to parties outside of Carnegie Mellon, the best possible price is to be obtained. Assets must be sold on an "as-is, where-is" basis.

See forms and procedures [PDF] for reporting required information for the 10 types of disposals.

Departments having movable assets for disposal or desiring used items may advertise in the 8-1/2 x 11 News or on the Carnegie Mellon market b-boards. In addition, departments may contact Property Accounting concerning "wanted" items that may be available in other departments as recorded in the PAS.

An asset having been disposed has a disposal code and disposal date in the PAS, and depreciation or use allowance is calculated, if appropriate, through the day in which the asset is disposed. The database of actual life history for disposed assets may be used to check the estimated life associated with each class of assets in the PAS.

The government requires that certain records be retained at least 4 years. These include purchase orders, accounts payable records, invoices, journal entries, paid checks, receiving reports, work orders for maintenance and other services, inspection reports, equipment records and some payroll records. Microfilming may be used for this record keeping. For further details, refer to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
  1. At the close of each calendar month Property Accounting prepares a report of all data entered during the month into the PAS. This report is reconciled with the Accounting Department's report of all capitalized entries in the General Ledger.
  2. At the close of each fiscal year, depreciation is calculated on all applicable movable and fixed assets by department and building. A report is then prepared of all assets by department and building, showing the annual depreciation values by asset and total by department and building.
  3. At the close of each fiscal year, Property Accounting prepares a report of all disposed assets by building. From that report, Property Accounting prepares the following entries:
    1. Charge 5-90000-8911 (net investment in plant - building disposal) or
    2. Charge 5-90000-8915 (net investment in plant-equipment/furniture disposal) for the original cost of the asset and
    3. Credit 5-00000-22XX (to credit the building for the original cost at the asset's acquisition - XX is the building number - Exhibit J.)
  4. At the close of each fiscal year Property Accounting prepares a report of all movable and fixed assets (exclusive of disposals) by building. The difference between the current and previous fiscal year totals by class code and building are used as follows to capitalize the assets:
    1. Charge 5-00000-2XXX (the Xs identify the type of property and the building - see Exhibits J and P)
    2. Credit 5-90000-89XX (campus buildings) (the Xs identify the General Ledger account number involved in the asset's acquisition - Exhibit C) or
    3. 5-90001-89XX (Mellon Institute)

In addition, reports are prepared for all movable assets added during the fiscal year with transaction code "9" (no General Ledger entries involved), by fund code.

This glossary [PDF] provides descriptions of various terms used in this manual and on department lists of movable assets. The glossary also includes other terms used by the government and Carnegie Mellon in relation to Property Accounting.