Computer Equipment Policy

Policy Section
Buying and Paying
Sponsored Research

Effective Date
November 1, 2004
Last Updated
May 25, 2023
Responsible Executive
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer
Responsible Office
Procurement Services
Jason Knoch
Assistant Vice President for Financial Services
(609) 258-9181


All types of computers must be purchased, inventoried, operated, and disposed of using established University policy. Computers may not be bought by individuals using personal or University credit cards. This policy applies to all computers regardless of whether they are capitalized.

II. Who is Affected by this Policy

Faculty, staff, researchers, and students at Princeton University who use or are responsible for purchasing or disposing of University-owned computers.

III. Definitions


All information technology equipment, including servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile communication devices regardless of the dollar value. Computers include the hardware and software components needed for operation.

IV. Policy

Computers must be purchased via a requisition, or requested via the Faculty Computing Program, unless prior approval is provided by the Office of Finance and Treasury; they may not be bought using personal or University credit cards. When no longer in use by the University, computers must be returned to the Office of Information Technology (or, for mobile devices, to the University’s Resource Recovery Program). The purchase and disposal of computers through this method enables:

  • identification and allocation to appropriate funding source (University funds or federally sponsored project funds);
  • integration into University’s capital asset management system;
  • integration into the University’s device, network, and security management systems;
  • advantageous pricing and shipping terms through University supplier contracts;
  • exemption from sales taxes;
  • inclusion and installation of appropriate software packages;
  • documentation of warranty coverage;
  • coordination of supplier and technical support;
  • deletion or “wiping” of the computer hard drive;
  • proper asset retirement and disposal of computers to comply with security and environmental concerns.

Sale or Disposal of Computer Equipment

When non-capitalized computing equipment (other than mobile communication devices) is no longer in use by the University, it must be returned to the Office of Information Technology for retirement. Sales of non-capitalized computer equipment purchased using sponsored funds must be approved by ORPA prior to the sale, in addition to coordinating any transfer through the Office of Information Technology.

When a mobile communication device is no longer in use by the University, it must be returned to the University’s Resource Recovery Program.

If a departing faculty member seeks to take capitalized research computer equipment with them, they must ensure that the request is entered in the Prime capital asset module to receive approval from the Office of the Controller and to establish fair market purchase price for the equipment. For capitalized computers purchased with funds from sponsored projects, this will also require review and approval by ORPA.

Related policies:

Capital Equipment Policy - when to capitalize computers or aggregate multiple computers for capitalization.

Direct and Indirect Costs on Federally Funded Sponsored Projects and Programs Policy - allocating computer purchases to federally-funded projects.

Mobile Communication Devices Policy - University corporate contracts for mobile communication service providers (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint).





Revision Log

5/25/23 - Update to Sale/Disposal of computer equipment section.

2/20/19 - Updated to include SHI/remove CDW-G.

10/1/18 - Updated Executive Sponsor listing.

3/15/18 - Update name of Surplus Program to Resource Recovery Program, per Facilities.

1/18/18 - Updated to reflect terminology and procedures to support the new Prime Asset Management Module. For sale of computer equipment, updated to include reference to requesting via asset module. Explicitly citing approval required from the Office of the Controller and ORPA (if sponsored funds were used for the purchase). For sale of surplus computer equipment, updated to include reference to facilitating through Surplus program, and explicitly citing approval required ORPA (if sponsored funds were used for the purchase).

4/23/12 - Slight revision to “Sale of Computer to Departing Faculty” section to align with other procedural updates for transferring equipment from the University.

2/25/11 - No change to policy or substance; revised organization and language for web-based policy library. Consolidated from multiple purchasing policies and former “Expense Guidelines”.

11/1/04 - Approved.