Rice University Research Policy No.
PROCUREMENT, MANAGEMENT, TRANSFER AND DISPOSITION
Purpose of Research Equipment
The purchase of research equipment may be initiated only when
the equipment is essential to a research project and is not already
reasonably available and accessible elsewhere on campus. Rice
University policy requires that all special purpose equipment be
shared by investigators to the maximum extent possible, although
this shared use must not, of course, interfere with regulations of
the sponsors, the terms under which the equipment was acquired, or
work on a project for which the equipment was acquired.
Definition of Research Equipment
Research equipment is apparatus used primarily for research that
meets the definition of equipment found in Policy 809-03. It may be
purchased as a complete unit, donated/loaned by a sponsor, or
fabricated from component parts at Rice. Specifically not included
in research equipment is computer software. Moreover, personal
computers/printers are considered general office equipment and are
not allowed unless a convincing case can be made to show that they
are used directly in the conduct of the research. Report
preparation is not sufficient justification for their purchase with
Several individuals/groups are responsible for the procurement,
management, transfer, and disposition of research equipment. These
include the following:
1. Principal Investigators are responsible for identifying the
need for research equipment, determining if such equipment is
available on campus, and (if appropriate) initiating purchase of
new equipment. They must make sure that equipment under their
jurisdiction is properly used and maintained.
2. Department/Center Chairs/Directors (or their designates)
are responsible for seeing that research equipment in their
department/center is accounted for and optimally utilized.
3. The University Research Accountant will maintain inventory
control and assist in shared used of research equipment by
identifying available items through inventory records.
Shared Use Priorities
Federal regulations (U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Circular No. A-110, Attachment N, Paragraph 6b(2)) require that
during the time nonexpendable property is held for use on
government sponsored projects or programs funded through grants and
other agreements, the recipient shall make that equipment available
for use by other projects or programs if such use will not
interfere with the work on the project for which the property was
originally acquired. In accord with these guidelines, the priority
for this shared use shall be:
1. Other projects/programs of the same federal agency,
2. Projects/programs of other federal agencies, and
3. Activities not sponsored by federal agencies (however, if
the property is owned by the federal government, authorization of
the federal agency concerned is required).
Purchasing Research Equipment
Once the need for research equipment is established and the
funds are secured, one must complete a "Research Equipment
Procurement Brief" (obtained from the Office of Sponsored Research
- OSR) along with a purchase order. The former calls for three
price quotes. An adequate explanation is required when fewer than 3
quotes are given or when the lowest bid is not accepted. These
documents are processed through the OSR and forwarded to the
accounting department for action.
Title to Research Equipment
Title to research equipment purchased with grant/contract funds
may be either retained by the funding agency (sponsor-owned) or
granted permanently to the University (University-owned). Except in
very unusual circumstances, if any funds independently generated by
the University are involved in purchasing research equipment (e.g.
matching funds), the University retains title to the equipment.
Additional information concerning title to research equipment
may be contained in property clauses of individual grants and
contracts. All matters concerning title to research equipment are
processed through the OSR.
Management of Research Equipment
Principal investigators are responsible for the custody, care,
and maintenance of all research equipment acquired through or
furnished to their grants, contracts, and other agreements. A
laminated paper tag with adhesive backing shall be affixed to each
item. This tag shows the property control number. A separate metal
tag indicating government property shall be affixed to all
sponsor-owned research equipment in addition to the paper tag. All
these tags are available through the university property accountant
located in the controller's office. A current and accurate
inventory listing of all research equipment must be maintained with
all equipment being physically inventoried at least biannually. The
department/center chairs/directors (or their designates) are
responsible for reporting significant changes in the location,
condition, transfer, and disposition of research equipment. Details
of these procedures are contained in
Policy Memo No. 809-03
Shared Maintenance/Operating Costs
Maintenance and operating costs may be shared by investigators
in proportion to shared use. These may be handled in any manner
agreed to by the parties concerned.
Disposition of Research Equipment
Sponsor-owned research equipment that becomes unserviceable or
is no longer needed by the principal investigator to conduct the
sponsored research should be reported to the office of sponsored
research. Arrangements should be made to dispose of the equipment,
return it to the sponsor, or negotiate a title transfer to Rice
University . Specific details are contained in Policy No.
Following termination of a sponsored research program, property
for which title has been granted to the University should be
inventoried as belonging to the academic department/center
Specific Sponsor Regulations and Procedures
DOD and NASA
Two categories of equipment exist: Government-furnished (shipped
or delivered directly to the University by a government agency) and
grantee/contractor-acquired or procured (purchased or fabricated
with grant/contract funds). Information about the former is
normally obtained through the grant contracting office of the
sponsoring agency. Research equipment may be purchased only when
specifically authorized by a proper approving authority in
DOD/NASA. This authorization may be included in the original
grant/contract award document (or modification thereto) or in
subsequent written correspondence.
The purchase of research equipment costing more than a minimum
amount (e.g. $5,000 for Air Force; $10,000 for Office of Naval
Research, with some exceptions, etc.) requires written
authorization from the designated contracting officer regardless of
its presence or absence in the approved budget. This authorization
involves the following three steps:
1. Complete items 1-17 of a DOD Industrial Plant Equipment
Form DD 1419, copies of which are available in the OSR;
2. Write a letter to the designated government contracting
officer including the following information: a) the description
and cost of the desired item; b) a request for authorization to
purchase the item; and c) a request that, upon receipt of the
item, Rice University be granted title. A signature line headed
with "APPROVED FOR RICE UNIVERSITY" should be included at the
bottom of the letter.
3. Forward the completed form and letter to the OSR for
official approval. The processed letter will be returned to the
principal investigator for mailing to the funding agency.
Title to all research equipment remains with the agency until a
specific request is made by Rice University to be granted title.
This can be done at the time of authorization to purchase (as
described in the preceding paragraph), at the time a periodic
report is submitted, or at the submission of the final report on a
project. All matters concerning title to research equipment are
processed through the OSR.
Since procedures for monitoring research equipment are involved
and require frequent reports, it is essential that principal
investigators keep complete and accurate records of equipment
purchased on research grants/contracts.
NASA Form 1018 entitled "Report of
Government-owned/Contractor-held Property," obtained from the OSR,
is due by July 31 each year and concerns purchased capital
DOD Form 1662 entitled "Reports of Government (DOD) Facilities,"
obtained from the OSR, reports the total acquisition costs of
ONR (Office of Naval Research) requires a special form called
the "ONR Austin Purchase Request Form" that applies to different
categories of equipment. This document must be completed and
approved before equipment can be purchased with ONR funds. The
forms can be obtained from the OSR.
NIH and NSF
Research equipment purchased with funds provided by the National
Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) is normally titled to the University upon acquisition. These
items should be inventoried as belonging to the sponsored projects
or renewals thereof as long as the project for which the equipment
was purchased continues. Following termination of the sponsored
project, inventories should reflect the transfer of the research
equipment to the academic department/center concerned. Additional
information about transfer of title to research equipment is
contained in Attachment N to the Office of Management and Budget
Circular A-110 (paragraph 6a).
There is no uniform policy regarding title of government
property furnished by the Department of Energy or purchased with
DOE grant/contract funds. For such information, one must refer to
the terms of the individual research agreements.
Robert A. Welch Foundation
Since its beginning in 1954 the Welch Foundation retained title
to all permanent equipment purchased with its research funds; it
determined the ultimate disposition of such equipment on an
individual basis when grants terminated. Beginning June 1, 1990,
that policy changed. After that date, the foundation gives title to
all research equipment to the University. Title to equipment
purchased prior to that time and still in usable condition is
transferred to the University on that date. Because such equipment
is now owned by the University, it is subject to the usual
University policies for management, transfer, and disposition.
Other Governmental and Private Sponsors
In addition to this general information, details about the
handling of research equipment may be included in the
grant/contract terms for sponsors not specifically referenced in
this policy memorandum.
Release/Transfer of Research Equipment
For purposes of transferability to another institution, research
equipment may be divided into two classifications: that which may
be transferred and that which policy does not allow to be
1. Transferable Equipment - The transfer of research equipment
to another institution with a transferring faculty member may be
a. The research equipment was brought to the University by
the faculty member from a previous institution;
b. The equipment was purchased or built with sponsored
research funds or was furnished by the sponsor who requests the
c. The steps listed below are followed:
(1) The faculty member concerned must initiate the
(2) The request is reviewed by the department/center chair
who may approve or deny it. Approval would certify that the
equipment is not needed in the department/center for teaching
(3) The request is reviewed by the divisional dean who may
approve or deny it. Approval would certify that the equipment
is not needed in any other department in the school
(4) The request is reviewed by the director of sponsored
research who determines the value of the equipment and
prepares a recommendation for the Vice President for Research
based on administrative and financial considerations.
(5) The Vice President for Research makes sure the
equipment is not needed in any other department at Rice, then
approves or denies the request.
2. Non-Transferable Equipment - It is the policy of Rice
University not to approve requests to transfer research equipment
to another education institution in the following situations.
a. The equipment was procured or built at University
b. The equipment was procured or built using external funds
and title has been vested in Rice University, if the equipment
is needed for teaching and/or research anywhere at Rice.
c. The equipment was obtained from government surplus and
titled to Rice University.
Any deviations from this policy require approval of the
Effect of Federal Demonstration Project
In the fall of 1988 Rice University became a participant in the
Federal Demonstration Project (FDP) established to develop ways of
streamlining and unifying government regulations for grant
administration. The ultimate goal is to reduce paperwork and
thereby increase productivity. Some of the proposed changes may
have a significant impact on the procurement, management, transfer,
and disposition of research equipment.
Policy No. 331
Issued: March 5, 1990
Revised: February, 2003
Combination of Previous Policies:
302-79: October, 1975; Revised 12/15/75 , 6/1/78 , 10/30/79
309-71: August 5, 1971