2.3 Purchases


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Stanley Dunn

Associate Director

Property Management Office

(650) 725-0081

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1. Purchase Operational Procedure

Purchase requisitions are generated in the Stanford Express system by departmental personnel. For information on processing of purchase requisitions please review the Buy and Pay Guide and/or contact the Financial Support Center.

Note: Use of Stanford Pcards, personal funds or personal credit cards to purchase capital equipment is prohibited by Stanford policy.  See Administrative Guide Memos 5.3.3 and 5.4.3 for additional information.

A. Capital Equipment Purchase Requisitions

Purchase requisitions are generated in the Stanford Express system. Proper selection of an account number (also known as PTA-Project/Task/Award), expenditure type (ET), and purchase order category are critical to ensure accurate completion of the transaction.

All requisitions require routing to the appropriate financial approvers. In addition to financial approval, requisitions for the following require approval of a DPA:

  • capital equipment
  • sponsor-owned equipment or materials
  • equipment leases, loans, and donations
  • fabrication components

B. Pre-purchase Screening

To maximize utilization of equipment on hand and eliminate unnecessary purchases, internal pre-purchase availability screening is required by the Department Property Administrator (DPA) (or designee) on capital equipment acquisitions. In addition, external screening may be required on purchases made on federal contracts. Screening thresholds are listed below.

Capital Equipment

Internal Screening Requirement

Unit Acquisition Cost below $25,000
  • Departmental Screening within Sunflower database.
  • Record screening event in purchase requisition.
Unit Acquisition Cost $25,000 or greater
  • University-wide within Sunflower database.
  • Record screening event in purchase requisition.










In addition to the above:

If Sponsor-owned Equipment

External Screening Requirement

Department of Defense (DoD) National Science Foundation (NSF)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  • Acquisition cost $5,000 and greater (except for fabrications previously approved either in the project budget or scope of work)
  • Record screening report number  in purchase requisition, if available
  • DD1419 as required
  • All equipment, regardless of cost (including fabricated equipment)
  • Record screening report number in purchase requisition, if available
  • DD1419 as required
Other Sponsoring Agencies
  • Screen per terms and conditions within award
  • Record screening report number in purchase requisition, if available
  • DD1419 as required

Find Form DD1419 below in the Documents tab in Related Items.

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2. Purchases from other Universities

Occasionally property is sold by another university to Stanford at a negotiated cost. Preliminary due diligence and negotiation of this cost is the responsibility of an individual with financial authority within the acquiring department at Stanford. Final approval of the cost for capital equipment is reviewed within the Purchasing workflow process and may be adjusted prior to placement of the Purchase Order.

Criteria required for these transactions:

  1. reasonableness of negotiated cost
  2. payment made with Stanford unrestricted funds.  Use of sponsor funding must have prior written authorization from the PMO
  3. ensure Stanford obtains any necessary software licenses 
  4. generate an itemized Stanford Express Purchase Requisition
  5. acquiring department must obtain and provide to PMO an itemized listing of the assets involved from the releasing institution, including the following details:
  • description
  • manufacturer
  • model
  • serial number
  • original acquisition date and cost
  • negotiated cost to Stanford
  • year of manufacture
  • original funding source
  • current title (ownership)
  • condition
  • auxiliary or accessory items, where applicable

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3. Computing Devices

Stanford’s policy reflects section 200.20 of the Uniform Guidance that defines Computing Devices and section 200.453 (c) that establishes that such costs are supplies and may be charged directly to federally sponsored projects as described below.

Computing Devices are machines that cost less than $5,0001 are used to acquire, store, analyze, process, and publish data and other information electronically, including accessories (or “peripherals”) for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information.

  1. Charging computing devices as direct costs is allowable for devices that are essential and allocable (provide benefit), but are not solely dedicated, to the performance of a federal award.
    • Such devices are also allowable if solely dedicated to the performance of a federal award
  2. Federal sponsors may impose requirements for these costs to be included in the proposal budget and may require a budget justification. Until the federal agencies release specific information, budget justifications may be used at the discretion of the principal investigator.  Requirements may be forthcoming from each sponsoring agency in fall 2014 or winter 2015.

Non-federally Sponsored Projects: Direct charging of computing devices to a non-federally sponsored project is appropriate if the computing device benefits the sponsored project.  Some non-federal sponsors may have specific requirements for direct charging of computing devices.  Such requirements need to be addressed in proposals.

Stanford’s policy (RPH 15.4) on charging other technical expenses remains unchanged by the Uniform Guidance. 

1There is no change in policy regarding treatment of items over $5,000.  If the acquisition cost of a computer is greater than $5,000 (and has useful life of more than 1 year), it should be categorized as capital equipment.  See the Property Management Manual for more information regarding capital equipment.

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4. Vehicle Purchases

Vehicles with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater are capital equipment and should be charged to ET 53140.  Vehicle license and registration fees are not included in the capital acquisition cost.  They are expensed costs and should be charged to ET 56510.

Fleet Garage approval is required for vehicle acquisitions.  Contact the Fleet Garage prior to creating requisition.

For additional information please see Administrative Guide 8.4.1 Vehicle Acquisition, Ownership and Disposition and Administrative Guide 8.4.2 Vehicle Use.

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