11 - 020 Acquisition of Equipment


This document explains the manner in which equipment acquisitions are recorded within the USNH Equipment Inventory System.  All items of equipment acquired with USNH funds, including grant and contract funds, will be capitalized (carried as an asset in the USNH general ledger) and monitored in the USNH Equipment Inventory System.  Ownership may vest with a sponsoring agency or with USNH.  USNH capitalizes and tracks all equipment within the Equipment Inventory System regardless of ownership. 

1. Definition of Equipment. Most assets with a purchase price of $5,000 or more and having an estimated useful life of more than one year are defined by USNH as equipment.  Items which meet this definition but are not considered equipment include:  works of art, library acquisitions other than collections for the UNH School of Law, and goods purchased for resale.

2. Responsibility (see the exclusions section below for additional information.)

a. Campus Finance Divisions are responsible for the initial determination that a purchase meets the equipment definition, and for charging the expense to the appropriate funding source (Banner fund/org/account combination).
b. Equipment Custodian Managers are responsible for properly maintaining and safeguarding all assets in their possession, reporting loss, damage or disposal of all assets promptly, and participating in a bi-annual physical inventory of all assets under their control.
c. USNH Property Control is responsible for reviewing all UNHD, UNHF, UNHL and UNHM purchases, tagging movable assets as appropriate, tracking asset locations, and performing a bi-annual physical inventory of all assets in cooperation with equipment custodian managers.
d. The STAR office is responsible for notifying USNH Property Control of equipment ownership terms for each grant/contract purchase.


1. Equipment Acquisition Process

a. Screening for Existing Equipment: This process is required before the purchase of new equipment funded by federal grants and contracts. See USNH Procedure 11-021, Screening for Existing Equipment.
b. Procurement Information: Documentation related to the purchase of all equipment should contain the following specific information to facilitate the evaluation of the asset for appropriate useful life, data entry, tagging/bar-coding and the inventory process:

i. A clear description of the equipment. This is not just the vendor's catalog number. Rather, supporting documentation must state the description of the item(s) in general terms. For example, "XT-235" is not an appropriate description, however, "electron microscope" or "Dell Pentium computer" would be satisfactory.
ii. The name of the project director, lab manager, or equipment manager. This will be the person designated as the custodian.
iii. The location where the equipment is normally housed. Campus, building name and room number are required.
iv. If something is being added to an existing piece of equipment, such as an internal disk or memory upgrade for a computer, a reference to the tag/ barcode number, permanent tag number, purchase order number or invoice number of the original item is needed. This can be documented either in the document text or noted on the invoice.
v. The 7400 series of account codes must be used for capital equipment purchases. All items coded to these accounts should meet the definition of equipment (see Section A.1 above) with the exception of the following: Account code 740010: Sponsor Deliverable Equipment. Expenses that meet the sponsor deliverable equipment criteria will not be capitalized and do not meet the definition of equipment. This account code is used to meet the reporting requirements of certain limited sponsored awards. Use of the document text field for additional notes or further description such as number of installment payments, progress payment terms, reference to a fabricated equipment project, etc. is encouraged.

c. Cost of Purchased Equipment: The total cost of a piece of equipment includes the initial accessories or apparatus which are necessary to make it usable. These costs must be noted in the documentation to be properly capitalized as part of the equipment total purchase cost. This is particularly critical when payment is made via installments. The total cost may also include costs normally considered supplies such as:

i. Shipping and delivery charges or freight;
ii. Installation and set-up charges not included with the purchase price but necessary for use of the equipment;
iii. Significant improvements, repairs, or upgrades to the equipment which either significantly extend its useful life or increase its market value;
iv. Cables, mounting apparatus or other items that are required to enable use of the equipment but are not included in the purchase price;
v. Software purchased to run the new equipment that is included in the initial purchase price. This should not include any annual maintenance for the software as those costs are normal operating expenses.

C. Types of Equipment Acquisitions

1. Standard Equipment: Equipment that is generally stand-alone, is not part of any other asset either by connection or construction, is conventionally purchased through normal USNH procurement processes and meets the definition of equipment defined in Section A.1 above.

2. Fabricated Equipment: Equipment that is constructed by USNH which, when complete, meets the definition of equipment in Section A.1 above but is composed of multiple items some of which may not meet the capital equipment requirements individually. This type of asset cannot be purchased off the shelf. See USNH Procedure 11-022, Fabricated Equipment for the appropriate handling of items being constructed.

3. Furnished Equipment: Furnished Equipment is loaned to USNH by a sponsor for use on sponsored activities. Title is generally retained by the sponsor unless USNH receives written notification of title transfer from the sponsor. USNH Property Control must track all furnished equipment and STAR must file annual reports on government owned equipment. To enable this, all furnished equipment should be reported to USNH Property Control by the department receiving the equipment, using the USNH Form 11-020F: Externally Furnished Equipment. See Procedure 11-020P: Preparation of Furnished Equipment Form for assistance in completing the form.

4. Equipment Gifts: Contact USNH Property Control and your campus Advancement office regarding appropriate handling of gift-in-kind items meeting the definition of equipment in Section A.1 above.

5. Betterment to Sponsor-Titled or Personal Equipment: USNH funds should not be used to partially purchase a piece of equipment, or to purchase any betterment to any item that is not owned by USNH. When title vests with a sponsor, they could demand that the item be returned at grant or contract termination. USNH funds may not be used to repair, upgrade, or enhance personally owned equipment.

6. Principal Investigator/Project Director Funds: Equipment purchased with principal investigator/project director funds is the property of USNH and not the personal property of the faculty member. As such, the item should be recorded as an equipment purchase, tracked in the fixed asset system and be available for tagging and inventory.

7. Other: USNH Property Control must be notified prior to equipment being acquired with a trade. Notification must include the gross cost of the acquired equipment, the trade value of the traded equipment and barcode/serial number of the traded equipment.

d. Exclusions

1. The following associated costs are not considered equipment expenses:

a. Software not bought as part of an original system - These items should be charged to supplies; account codes in the 711 or 715 range.
b. Software licenses, service contracts, and maintenance agreements - These items should be charged to maintenance account codes in the 716 range.
c. Demolition or dismantling of equipment.
d. Moving items from one USNH location to another.
e. Repair costs unless the repair will add more than one year to the equipment’s useful life or the cost significantly increases the value of the equipment (see B.1.c Cost of Purchased Equipment above).
f. Training costs.

2. Fixed Equipment: Items which become part of a building are not recorded as equipment but are capitalized as part of the building of which they become part. This includes items such as fume hoods, built-in furnishings, fire systems, etc. Please contact USNH Property Control with questions on fixed equipment.

3. Sponsor Deliverable Equipment: Sponsor Deliverable Equipment are prototypes or deliverables bought on federal contracts. These items are not capitalized as they do not meet the useful-life test. As noted above, account code 740010 is used for these expenditures.

4. Leased Equipment: See USNH Procedure 8-115, Leases and Rental Agreements for proper definition and management of leased equipment.


The official version of this information will only be maintained in an on-line web format. Any and all printed copies of this material are dated as of the print date. Please make certain to review the material on-line prior to placing reliance on a dated printed version. 

This page last updated Tuesday, April 18, 2023. For information on the adoption and effective dates of policies please see explanation on the OLPM Main Menu.