1.2 Roles and Responsibilities

The PMO provides guidance and training to departments on all property related issues, from pre-purchase considerations through retirement of assets. Departments involved in sponsored research should contact PMO for assistance with equipment issues at the time of proposal development, project performance, and at the conclusion of projects or the retirement of equipment.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Ivonne Bachar

Senior Director Property Management Office

Property Management Office

(650) 723-9095

To report a broken link or send comments/suggestions about property management content, send email to:


1. Organizational Structure of Property Management

The PMO resides within the Office of Research Administration (ORA). The PMO develops and implements policies, procedures, and a system that enables effective property management for the University, and works closely with the Controller’s Office (CO) in the development and implementation of policies for capital equipment. The PMO also maintains close communications with the Office of the Dean of Research in the development and implementation of policies for managing sponsor-owned equipment.

Property management issues are coordinated between the PMO and the local-area Department Property Administrator (DPA). The functional responsibilities of the DPA role may be distributed among several individuals within a department. The distribution of duties may vary depending on the size and complexity of the property management needs of the department or sponsored project. When distributing the responsibilities, the department must ensure that adequate checks and balances exist to ensure adequate process and data integrity are maintained. The DPAs carry out the day-to-day responsibilities within their respective departments and provide guidance to department personnel concerning property matters such as acquisition, coordination of transfers, equipment at sub-recipient locations, maintenance, physical inventory, and disposal. The PMO will provide guidance and direction to departments where distribution of the DPA responsibilities is needed.

The Board of Trustees has delegated to deans, department chairs, directors, principal investigators and other University officers the responsibility for management of their funds.  See Administrative Guide Memo 36. On June 9th, 1997, the Provost and Chief Financial Officer issued a memorandum supporting effective property management from every member of the Stanford community, starting with the officers. These officers are responsible for ensuring that policies and practices applicable to the work of the University, including instruction, research and public service are carried out, and those standards, policies and regulations are consistent with sponsor and donor expenditure restrictions. The following organization chart shows how the roles and responsibilities flow down:

Property management information is disseminated at training, Property Administration Continuing Education (PACE) meetings, and via email – all DPA’s are added automatically to the dpa-distribution@lists.Stanford.edu distribution list.

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2. Custodians and Asset Users

Custodians are Stanford employees responsible for a designated group of assets. Asset users are the persons who use the equipment on a regular basis, and can help readily locate or provide information about it. A custodian may also be the asset user. Non-Stanford personnel may be authorized to use Stanford or sponsor owned property; if so, the Stanford University person they report to should be listed in the property record. There are various rules of thumb to follow when recording a custodian. Following are some common scenarios; work with your department management to determine what is best for your area.

  • the actual asset user (Stanford University employee) is listed as the custodian
  • the business manager is listed as the custodian and the individual employees or positions (i.e.: receptionist) are listed as asset users
  • in lab situations, the Principle Investigator (PI) is listed as the custodian and research assistants or graduate students are listed as asset users
  • for departmentally used items such as copiers, the key operator or business manager is listed as the custodian

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3. Department Property Administrators

Property management is an important function at the University. Prudent business practices help protect the University's multi-million dollar investment in capital equipment, meet government and sponsor requirements, and support indirect cost recovery associated with assets at Stanford. Each dean, vice provost, and vice president is responsible for implementing property administration effectively and compliantly within their school or department by ensuring that DPAs receive full cooperation from end-users and purchasers of property.

A. Choosing a Department Property Administrator

Selecting and designating a well-qualified DPA is critical to ensure effective property management occurs at the departmental level. It is imperative that the right people are hired into (or assigned) the DPA responsibility, as they must interface with all faculty, staff and students working in their respective area. They are also the liaison between their department and the PMO. Following is a recommended profile for a person appointed as a DPA:

  • must be a Stanford University employee with a SUNet ID and SU.ID card/number
  • registered in authority manager
  • demonstrated effective communication skills
  • problem solving skills
  • knowledge and understanding of all facets of property management, including associated policies and procedures
  • receives support from management in carrying out property management tasks and attending required training and updates
  • positive and persistent attitude toward accomplishing tasks
  • has basic accounting and organizational skills
  • knowledge of Windows programs and internet navigation
  • knowledge of Oracle Financials and Sunflower Assets
  • holds at least a Certified Professional Property Specialist certification

B. Training and Tools for Department Property Administrators

All DPAs must attend the initial required property management training, and subsequent ongoing update training. Following are training classes (both required and recommended) for DPAs. Please note that Property Administration Continuing Education (PACE) sessions should always be attended as they provide important update information and also provide a mechanism for DPAs to give input to the property process. Attendance sheets for these sessions are used in departmental internal audits to ensure all staff are adequately trained and updated. Additionally, people who support the DPA function by purchasing, receiving and tagging equipment, but do not perform data input into Sunflower Assets (SFA) should attend policy training and PACE sessions. Classes are usually scheduled monthly; people can register on-line in Stanford Training Registration. PACE sessions are scheduled quarterly and registration is not required. Anyone involved in property management should review training schedules frequently for updated information.

If you have a DPA to be trained and do not see any classes scheduled in the near future, or need more information, please contact your University Property Administrator (UPA).

1. Required Training for Department Property Administrators

Attendance at property management training is mandatory for DPAs, and recommended for other people involved in the property process; some training must be completed before access to Sunflower Assets will be granted.

Following is a list of classes DPAs are required to take – schedules and additional materials are available on the web. You may review this information prior to taking a class, or use it after a class as a desktop reference, or share it with others in your office. PACE sessions should always be attended as they are used to update the DPA community on property initiatives.

  • ORA 1310 – Property Policies and Procedures (Required for DPAs; recommended for people involved in the property process)
  • ORA 1320 – Creating/Maintaining Records in Sunflower for DPAs (required for access to Sunflower Assets)
  • ORA 1330 – Reporting and Excessing Records in Sunflower for DPAs (required for DPAs)
  • PACE Sessions (Property Administration Continuing Education)

2. Recommended Training for Department Property Administrators

The following training should be completed within 6 months of hire into the position. These courses are all available online 24 hours a day, or in instructor led formats:

  • FIN 102 - Cost Policy (Outlines the Chart of Accounts and accounting structure at Stanford University
  • iProcurement -  (DPAs approve purchase requisitions and should understand the system)
  • iJournals -  (DPAs are often involved in journal transactions and should understand the system)

DPAs working in a research environment need a basic understanding of the intricacies of sponsor requirements, which can be unique to various agencies. They need to know about external screening, cost sharing and fabrication requirements, as well as other sponsor-specific topics. Also, in a research environment, there is added audit scrutiny and additional documentation requirements. For those DPA’s seeking a higher level of professionalism, there are higher levels of training and certification available:

Level One Cardinal Curriculum Certification

The Cardinal Curriculum is a certification program created to ensure a standard level of expertise for those who support the research endeavor of Stanford University. It is required for both new and continuing employees working in research administration and all administrative staff who support sponsored research including those who:

  • are involved with proposal preparation
  • originate or approve transactions on sponsored accounts
  • review or monitor expenditures on sponsored projects
Certification by the National Property Management Association (NPMA) 

This professional organization has developed a 4-part certification program specifically focused on the regulations and accepted practices of university property managers. For those DPAs with additional experience and qualifications, there are higher levels of certification available. For further information, contact your UPA.

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