4.2 Disposition and Transfers

Disposition is the process by which property owned by or otherwise accountable to Stanford is permanently removed from active University records. When assets become excess to the needs of the University, or the sponsored project under which they were acquired, they must be declared excess and the disposition process initiated. Timeliness in beginning the disposition process is a key to maximizing return on investment while minimizing unnecessary costs associated with the retention and management of the asset. It also mitigates the risk of potential misuse, unauthorized disposition, or theft.

All property must be appropriately monitored once the disposition process begins, whether or not it has been recorded in the Sunflower (SFA) property management database.  Sponsor-owned or Sponsor-funded equipment may require special handling during its disposition cycle. Refer to PM 3.7 - Agreements Management for additional details on this topic.

Department personnel must inform their Department Property Administrator (DPA) when assets are no longer needed. The DPA is responsible for preparing the excess items for disposal and initiating the excess request. The PMO approves and coordinates the physical collection and final disposition of all excess property from Stanford departments.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Stanley Dunn

Associate Director

Property Management Office

(650) 725-0081

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1. Key Policy Statements

  • Department personnel are responsible to inform the DPA when items are no longer needed or require disposal. The DPA is then responsible to generate an excess request in a timely manner, and ensure items are protected and secured while disposition is pending.
  • For items in operable condition, an attempt should be made to re-utilize within the University. See the Stanford University Reuse Website for details on reutilization for Stanford department use only.
  • Non-Stanford owned equipment requires Sponsor approval prior to disposal.
  • Prior to declaration of excess, departments are responsible for the removal of proprietary or sensitive data from all data-holding devices or equipment.
  • Excess items must be processed for disposal via PMO procedures.
  • Sales must be processed through Surplus Property Sales (SPS).

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2. Monitoring and Notification

All property must be appropriately monitored once the disposition process begins, whether or not it has been recorded in the SFA property management database. Sponsor-owned or Sponsor-funded equipment may require special handling during its disposition cycle. Refer to PM 3.7 - Agreements Management.

Department personnel must inform their DPA when assets are no longer needed. The DPA is responsible for preparing the excess items for disposal and initiating the excess request.  PMO approves and coordinates the physical collection and final disposition of all excess property from Stanford departments.

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3. Identifying Excess Equipment

Schools and departments are responsible for implementing established policies and procedures to ensure excess items are identified and disposition is initiated by the DPA in a timely manner. The department must ensure the safe keeping and protection of assets that are pending disposal and provide access for the collection of the excess items.

Departments may identify items as excess for various reasons, including but not limited to:

  • obsolescence
  • lack of use
  • contract or grant expiration
  • lack of further benefit to a particular project
  • poor condition or need for repair
  • residual from authorized cannibalization

In addition, other business reasons to generate a disposal request for an asset include:

  • transfer to another institution
  • trade in against a new purchase
  • return to manufacturer for refund or replacement
  • disposition directed by sponsor
  • theft

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4. Re-utilization

Re-utilization and re-purposing of property is a priority. Items in operable condition should be made available to all University departments via the Stanford University Reuse Website for potential reutilization (for Stanford business purposes only) and to help minimize unnecessary expenditures. In this way, the University maximizes the benefit of the items and saves costs of unnecessary duplicative purchases. Items posted and not re-utilized are subsequently declared excess and processed for disposition.

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5. Reuse Website

The Stanford University Reuse Website is Stanford’s online mechanism for staff and faculty having a SUNet ID to “advertise" usable items they no longer need and are willing to transfer or sell to another department. They can also create a “wanted” posting for items they need. In addition to capital equipment, individuals may also want to post non-capital items or supplies (e.g.: furniture, toner cartridges, older computer equipment, scientific equipment, etc.). Items acquired through the Stanford University Reuse Website can only be used by Stanford departments for use in University business. The website and the items acquired cannot be used for personal purposes.

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6. Furniture Reutilization Program

Stanford’s Furniture Reutilization Program, is operated jointly by the Property Management Office (PMO) and the Surplus Property Sales department (SPS). This program provides a resource to departments allowing expedient availability, cost savings, and opportunities to acquire or upgrade furniture while reducing needless waste and landfill. Please see Section 4.1, Re-use, for more detailed information on the Furniture Reutilization Program and how to utilize its benefits.

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7. Disposal Process

A. Administrative Deactivation of Asset Records

In cases where physical collection of the item for scrap or sale is not needed, an excess request must be generated to ensure timely deactivation and retirement of the asset record. Refer to the section on disposal methods later in this chapter for additional details. Unique instances may be referred to the University Property Administrator (UPA).

B. Physical Removal of Assets

For assets being physically disposed, the DPA must initiate an excess request in SPARC.

The SPS department collects the majority of excess equipment and materials at no charge to departments, usually within 10 business days of the request being generated. Large or heavy items or other circumstances may require additional labor assistance, in which case the department may be required to pay for these services. Contact your UPA for guidance in such cases.

SPS will evaluate the condition and salability of the items and make a decision regarding the final disposition method (e.g. sale, recycle, or scrap).

Refer to the Property Management Manual and the Sunflower and SPARC User Guides  for additional information and instructions on disposal requirements and generating excess requests.

8. Stanford Bar-Coded Equipment

Property identified with Stanford University Identification barcode tags must be processed through the appropriate channels for disposition. This helps ensure accurate accountable records, financial reporting, physical inventory, and compliance with sponsor or other requirements.

To initiate the disposal process, a DPA must create an excess request. Prior to final disposition, recorded assets will undergo review by PMO to identify and evaluate any issues related to ownership or sponsor required actions. PMO will also ensure that recorded assets are properly retired from the system.

Certain characteristics of assets require additional review prior to disposal. Some of these attributes include:

  • ownership (sponsor-owned, loans/leases, fellowship)
  • computers and other equipment with proprietary data
  • hazardous materials or conditions (electronics, refrigeration, contamination)
  • vehicles
  • offsite disposal

Please see the section titled "Disposals Requiring Special Handling" in PM section 4.4 for specific details for each of the above classifications.

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9. Campus Cleanup Program

An annual campus cleanup is held each Fall quarter to give departments an opportunity to remove and dispose of unwanted materials from their space. Campus Cleanup provides an opportunity to do so with a minimum of paperwork and expense. The Zone Management Group manages this activity with the assistance and support of PMO and SPS. Tagged assets require additional review and specific processing, and must be disposed through the appropriate procedures.

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10. Unrecorded Equipment

While other equipment and material that is not recorded in the SFA property management database may not require the same degree of review as recorded assets, the collection and disposal procedures are handled in a similar manner for consistency and efficiency. Unrecorded items must still be disposed of through the procedures outlined in this chapter. 

For the disposal of unrecorded (non-bar coded) items an excess request must be generated in the SPARC platform, specifying the location of the item to be collected, contact information, and any specific instruction as needed.  Please refer to the PMO website and SPARC User's Guide for additional information and instructions on disposal requirements and generating excess requests for unrecorded assets.

Refrigeration units (e.g. freezers, chillers etc.) and extremely large or heavy items may require additional labor assistance, in which case the department may be required to pay for these services. The type of equipment and the disposal delivery destination -- either Peninsula Sanitary Service Inc. (PSSI) or SPS--dictate the types of Buildings & Grounds Maintenance (BGM) department work request needed.

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11. Methods of Disposition

An excess request in SPARC is required  for assets being disposed with a scrap or sale disposal method.  All other disposal methods require that an excess request be generated in Sunflower.  Each method has unique information requirements. Excess Information Templates are provided in the Forms and Documents section of the Property Management Manual. Accuracy and completeness is important to ensure proper handling and reconciliation.

Only a DPA has access to this system. Contact your local DPA and request that they process the disposal request. There is also a means to have unrecorded equipment  collected for proper disposal, which will be discussed later in the chapter. 

Below are specific definitions and procedures to follow for the disposition of property recorded in the SFA property management database.

A. Excess

This method is used when the item is to be collected for sale, recycling, or scrap. Accurate location and current contact information is necessary to facilitate the collection of the property. Items used in a laboratory environment may require a certification of decontamination. See PM section 4.4 for details regarding  additional steps required for disposing of certain types of equipment. Work request information should be included as needed.

When to use:

For items that are inoperable, obsolete, no longer needed. Pickup by SPS. SPS determines scrap, sale, or recycle. Sponsor owned assets require Sponsor approval prior to disposal.

B. Return to Manufacturer

This disposal method is used when an item is received and subsequently returned for a refund, which will be applied to the original PO by Accounts Payable.  Work with the Financial Support Center to ensure the credit is appropriately applied to the proper PO. If a restocking fee is applied to an order that was originally coded as capital, steps should be taken to ensure this cost is re-categorized to reflect an expense by submitting a change request via the Capital Expenditure Account Correction process, using the Expenditure Type 55120 for the restocking fee.  This method can also be used when returning an evaluation loan item.

An excess request should be generated in the SFA property management database. The request should include the vendor or manufacturer’s Return Authorization number (if any), date of the return, and the amount of credit received.

An Excess Request is not required when an item is returned to the manufacturer or the vendor due to defect or damage and an identical one is returned in exchange. In such cases, the property record is updated by the DPA to reflect the serial number of the replacement item.  It is helpful to annotate the comments field of the record explaining the circumstances of the exchange.

When to use:

Item being returned to vendor for full credit, less restocking fee, if applicable.  Coordination with Financial Support Center required.  This method can also be used when returning an evaluation loan item.

C. Trade Up

The Trade Up disposal method is used when an item is traded in to a vendor in exchange for monetary consideration which is then credited towards the acquisition of another item. The returned item should be clearly indicated in the purchase requisition (not only the quote) for auditing purposes. The DPA must generate an excess request including the new Purchase Order (PO) number, the amount received for the trade-in item, and the SUID tag number of the new item purchased. 

Some vendors will remove and dispose of an older item as a courtesy with the delivery of a new model. This does not constitute a trade up. If this is the case, please contact your UPA for instructions to have the record removed from the system. An excess request will be required, including the PO number and SUID of the new item.

When to use:

Item is being used as a trade-in for credit against a new purchase. New PO generated noting value received for trade-in item. (See additional details regarding Even Exchange.)

D. Transfer to Outside Institution

This procedure can vary greatly depending on the items involved and the institution to which they are going; it may be particularly sensitive if the items are transferring to a foreign location or entity. Please contact your UPA as early in the process as possible. PMO approval is required for such transfers. There are generally significant reviews and documentation involved. This can be time-consuming and cause unnecessary delays if PMO is not involved early. In addition, the Department Chair must approve the transfer, and in many cases, the approval of the Dean’s Office of the School may also be needed.

The original funding source of the equipment being transferred will determine the details of the transfer process. In all cases, PMO will review all pertinent property records to determine if there are any encumbrances on the items involved, including title, remaining depreciation, funding sources, or any other potential issues prior to the transfer being approved. The DPA must provide PMO with contact information of the receiving institution. PMO will facilitate obtaining the required confirmation of receipt.

The original funding source of the equipment will determine the variables involved in the transfer process:

  • Equipment acquired under an active federal grant should be transferred to the new institution (must be an eligible recipient) without compensation when the following conditions are met: the receiving institution is also the recipient of the grant and the equipment is needed for continuing the research.

A relinquishing statement must be prepared by the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) with the assistance of PMO, which will itemize the property included. (In the case of a contract being involved, the transfer will be handled contractually. Please contact PMO for assistance).

  • Property acquired with federal funds where the award is closed may be transferred without compensation to another non-profit educational institution at the discretion of the Department Chair and/or Dean’s Office. First preference should be given to other Stanford research activities. Preservation of Stanford’s infrastructure is paramount. Such transfers require written Dean’s Office and PMO approval. In the case of mixed funding sources for assets on active sponsored awards, the transfer may require Sponsor approval and compensation to one or more of the awards.

  • Property acquired on expired non-federal awards and/or unrestricted Stanford funds, for which Stanford will receive remuneration, should be sold to the new institution through SPS at fair market value. See Administrative Guide Memo 5.2.4.

When to use:

Asset is being transferred at no cost to another university or non-profit research institution. Highly restricted. High level approvals are required. Contact your UPA.

E. Return to Employee

This method is generally only used in the case of property acquired under a fellowship, where the terms and conditions of the fellowship grant title of the property to the fellow.  The DPA will generate an appropriate excess request. Some additional documentation may be required from the fellow involved.

When to use:

For recorded items owned by University staff members who are leaving university.  Generally used only for fellowships where equipment title granted to fellow.

F. Ship to Sponsor

This method is for use when property has either been furnished by a sponsor for the period of performance of a sponsored project, or is being delivered/shipped under the terms and conditions of a contract.

This typically requires significant documentation and communication with the sponsor.  Early involvement with PMO is highly recommended to avoid delays, particularly when the sponsor is a federal agency. Specific documents are necessary prior to shipping property to a sponsor to transfer accountability from Stanford to the sponsor.

When to use:

Used for Sponsor owned equipment being returned to sponsoring agency, usually at close of award period. Also used for items being shipped to sponsor as deliverables on a contract.

After shipping, an excess request is generated in the SFA property management database by the DPA. The excess request should include the shipment date and any transfer document numbers.

G. Duplicate Record

This is used only in such cases where a capital item has been inadvertently recorded twice under two different SUID tag numbers. An excess request should be created, indicating the correct tag number being kept in the system. In the case where one of the records has been financially reconciled, that record shall remain.

When to use:

Used when an item is inadvertently recorded in SFA property management database with two different tag numbers. The incorrect record must be removed from SFA.

H. Stolen

When an item is known to have been stolen (not simply missing) the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) must be notified and a police report completed.  Once this has been done, an excess request should be generated, referencing the police report number and the date of the theft. The department should also contact the Office of Risk Management to report the theft. The department may be eligible for compensation by Risk Management (after a $1,000 deductible) for the replacement of the item. Contact the Office of Risk Management for additional information and guidance.

When to use:

Asset has been reported stolen and a police report has been filed with the SUDPS.

I. Non-Capital

To be used only in such cases as an item was recorded as a capital asset in error. The original PO number may be required to verify non-capital status.  This is not a means by which a department can purge records from the system, whether the records were created for non-capital equipment items or in the event the items are older and do not meet the current capital threshold.

When to use:

Only used when item has been recorded as capital equipment in error and record needs to be removed from system.

J. Cannibalization

Use of this disposition method requires prior approval from your UPA.

This method is used when a department cannibalizes a piece of equipment for the parts. In these cases, the asset record should be removed from the system. The SUID barcode tag should be physically removed from the item to prevent reactivation of the record. If desired, a label may be placed on the equipment remnants indicating it is being cannibalized.  Cannibalization should be an infrequent means of disposition. In most cases, the parts should be removed and the remaining ‘shell’ of the equipment (with SUID tag intact) should be disposed using the “Excess” method.

When to use:

Used when item is being disassembled to be used for parts for other equipment. Requires prior approval from UPA.

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