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Equipment Acquisitions

Assets that meet the state's capitalization policy such as land, improvement to land, easements, buildings, leasehold improvements, vehicles, machinery, equipment, works of art and historical treasures, infrastructure, and all other tangible or intangible assets that are used in state operations and that have initial useful lives extending beyond one year. Capital assets do not include depletable resources such as minerals or timber.

A lease that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Lease term is greater than 75% of the equipment's estimated economic life.
  • Lease contains an option to purchase the equipment for less than fair market value.
  • Ownership of the equipment is transferred to the University at the end of the lease term.
  • Present value of the lease payments exceeds 90% of the fair market value of the equipment.

The value of future payments is significant to the University and requires recognition as a long-term debt in the University's annual audited financial report (as determined by Financial Reporting).  A capital lease of equipment transfers all benefits and risks inherent in ownership to the University.  

Earned credit equipment results from in-store credit, or any similar type of credit based on accumulated spend.  An equipment item acquired through earned credit is considered equipment if it meets the equipment definition (value greater than $5,000 and a life expectancy of more than one year).

Tangible property other than land, buildings, improvements other than buildings, or infrastructure with a unit cost (including ancillary costs) of $5,000 or more which is used in operations and with a useful life of more than one year.  Equipment may be attached to a structure for purposes of securing the item, but unless it is permanently attached to, or an integral part of, the building or structure, it is to be classified as equipment and not buildings.  

The transformation of salaries, benefits, supplies and materials, services, equipment, maintenance, and/or travel into one or more items of customized capital equipment for University of Washington use.

A gift is considered equipment if it meets the equipment definition (value greater than $5,000 and a life expectancy of more than one year).  University departments are responsible for approximating the fair market value of a gift at the time of receipt.  If the approximate fair market value is $5,000 or more and the life expectancy is more than on year, then the gift must be tagged and inventoried.

Equipment brought to the University for free use.  Even though no payment is involved, other costs such as insurance and repair costs may be incurred and need to be covered by a loan agreement that has been negotiated and signed by the appropriate departmental authority (department chair, director, or administrator).

Also included in this definition are exhibits and demonstration equipment.

Tangible property other than land, buildings, improvements other than buildings, or infrastructure with a unit cost (including ancillary costs) of less than $5,000 which is used in operations and with a useful life of more than one year.  Non-inventorial equipment is not capitalized. For more information on tagging and tracking non-inventorial equipment, please go here.

Assets that do not meet the state's capitalization policy but that an agency considers particularly vulnerable to loss, thus subject to special property control.  At the University, this includes all weapons, firearms, and permanently attached accessories such as rifles, pistols, flare guns, net guns, tasers, rifle scopes, signal guns, line-throwing equipment, and animal control devices.

Items purchased from the Surplus Property Office Warehouse.  These are viewed as being acquired from an outside vendor.  They are considered equipment if they meet the equipment definition; current market value of $5,000 or more and an original life expectancy of more than one year.

Equipment item brought into the University or department from another university, agency, or another University department. Equipment transferred in is treated as equipment if it meets the equipment definition. University departments must approximate the fair market value of equipment transferred in at the time of receipt. Equipment that has an estimated fair market value of $5,000 or more, with a life expectancy of more than one year, must be tagged and inventoried.

Unit cost is the purchase price or fair market value of one piece of equipment and can include ancillary costs such as calibration, installation, freight, trade-in, and sales and excise tax.

Equipment Disposals

The removal of components for reuse rendering the parent unit unusable.  Cannibalized equipment must be reported to Equipment Inventory on a Property Activity Request - Form 1024. Unused parts must be disposed of through the Surplus Property Office.

Equipment Disposal refers to both physically removing properties from a department and to the removing of the item from a department's active inventory, relieving the department of accountability for reporting and tracking. The terms disposal and surplus are often used interchangeably.

Transfer equipment ownership and/or responsibility to another non-profit research institution within the United States.

Transfer equipment from your department to another within the University and remove it from your department's records.  (You may give or sell it to the other department).  

Return tagged and inventoried equipment to the vendor and remove it from your department's records. 

Dispose of equipment, materials, and supplies, whether inventorial or not, through the established procedure facilitated by the Surplus Property Department. Equipment Inventory removes the record of equipment from the department's inventory. The terms disposal and surplus are often used interchangeably.

A purchase of equipment is considered a trade in when one or more pieces of existing equipment are given to the vendor for a specified dollar amount discount.  If the total cost of the new purchase (paid amount plus discount amount) is $5,000 or more, the new purchase must be tagged and inventoried. 

Equipment Management

The upkeep of property or equipment to preserve from failure and decline.

Hard copy lists mailed to departments by Equipment Inventory, based in a schedule, for tracking inventorial assets.  Departments are required to perform a manual count and verify the location/serial number/custodian of each item listed.  All departments are required by state and federal regulations to complete a physical inventory on a regular schedule.  The Equipment Inventory Office (EIO) coordinates the process for all University of Washington departments.

The physical inventory of Sensitive Inventory Items (Small and Attractive Assets) regardless of cost.  These inventories are distributed to campus in early May of each non-biennium year and are due back to the Equipment Inventory Office by August 31st of the same year.

The physical inventory of University owned assets with a total cost greater than $5,000.  These inventories are distributed to campus in early May of each non-biennium year and are due back to the Equipment Inventory Office by August 31st of the same year. 

The documented use of materials or equipment in the business process compared to the planned use.

Equipment Tagging

An asset that meets the definition of equipment but is too small or delicate to affix a tag to.  Common examples are art work, underwater equipment, software, or lenses.  "No Tag" assets are treated the same as regular assets, except for the following steps:

  • "NT " for No Tag is entered into the "How Tagged" box of the Snapshot view in OASIS.

  • "Other Location" field can be populated with more specific location information such as "Used with computer 1199887." Print the snapshot data of the OASIS entry for the asset.

  • Affix the inventory tag to this and enter it into your departmental No Tag log. A No Tag log could be as simple as a binder that houses this type of “No Tag” asset documentation.

One of the data fields in OASIS.  Please see below for details regarding each of the different asset status types.

A – Status (Approved)

All the necessary information is provided for the asset in OASIS (SnapShot Data and Expenditure Information). It is considered an active asset, and may be selected in the Biennial Physical Inventory. Departments are required to keep Approved or active assets updated; this means changes in Custodian or Location must be entered into the system, and a Form 1024 submitted if an Approved asset is transferred to another department within the University of Washington.

D – Status (Deleted)

These are assets that have been removed from active status for various reasons. The most common reason is a surplus disposal, although some assets are traded in, returned to vendor, lost at sea, or cannibalized in some fashion. These assets remain in the OASIS system for six years in compliance with the University of Washington’s record retention policy.

N – Status (Non-Inventorial)

This is for equipment under $5,000 in value. Tagging is optional for these items. EIO does not enter these assets or update them, although we do delete them from the system to keep it accurate. Please note that any asset entered into OASIS is potentially auditable, so if your department enters non-inventorial assets they should periodically inventory them.

P – Status (Pending) EIO Entered PTE

Pending assets reflect payments for assets not currently in the OASIS system. OASIS is required to have an asset for each expenditure on inventorial equipment. If EIO cannot match an asset to a requisition, we create a pending asset. Please see this page for more detailed information on pending assets.

T – Status (Temporary) Department Entered

This is asset information entered by the department if they receive equipment before payment is made. Before creating a T-status asset, you should search for your requisition number. Requisition number formats can be tricky, so we have created a table to assist with searching for them in OASIS. Before we enter pending assets in the system, EIO will search for the requisition number to see if the asset is in the system. To avoid pending assets, as well as confusion about the number and types of items ordered, it is best to create a T-status asset when equipment is received.

T-status should also be used for gifts, equipment loans, transfers-in, or trade-ins where no financial transactions are involved.

An identification marker (white tag) that is required to be affixed to all University inventorial and government or agency owned equipment that meets the equipment capitalization threshold and is required to be tracked and inventoried.

Tagging and tracking non-inventorial assets (assets costing less thaN $5,000) is not mandatory. Some departments choose to tag non-inventorial equipment for internal purposes; for more information on tagging this type of asset, please see this page.

Federal and Agency Equipment

The physical inventory of Agency owned assets with a total cost greater than $5,000.  these inventories are distributed to campus in early January of each year and are due back to the Equipment Inventory Office by February 28/29 of the same year.

The obligation to account for equipment activities, accept responsibility for them, and to report on them in a transparent mannner. 

The physical inventory of Federally owned assets with a total cost greater than $5,000.  These inventories are distributed to campus in early January of each year and are due back to the Equipment Inventory Office by February 28/29 of the same year. 

Equipment brought in to or sent to the University by the Government to be used for a specific task or research process during the duration of a grant or contract.

Machinery and Equipment Sales Tax Exemption

Equipment purchased for certain University research and development activities may qualify for a sales tax exemption allowed under RCW 82.08.05656, known as the Machinery and Equipment Tax Exemption or "M&E Exemption."  The exemption may be applied towards purchases of fixtures, equipment, and support facilities that are an integral and necessary part of pilot scale manufacturing or used directly in University manufacturing or research and development activities as defined in RCW 82.63.010 (16).

Note:  Items with a total cost of $200 or more may qualify for this exemption.  The M&E Exemption does not tie the tax exemption to the University of Washington's capitalization threshold of $5,000.

Equipment with a useful life of more than one year with ownership/title to the University of Washington.

To be considered "used directly" in a manufacturing operation or research and development operation, the machinery and equipment must:

  • Act upon or interact with an item of tangible University property;
  • Convey, transport, handle, or temporarily store an item of tangible University property at the manufacturing site;
  • Control, guide, measure, verify, align, regulate, or test tangible University property;
  • Provide physical support for or access to tangible University property;
  • Produce steam or mechanical power for, or lubricate machinery and equipment;
  • Produce another item of tangible University property for use in the manufacturing operation or research and development operation;
  • Be integral to research and development as defined in RCW 82.63.010.


Fellowships provide Fellows (individuals who have generally attained their graduate degree and help conduct research at the University) with research funds, which can include the purchase of necessary equipment.  The equipment may be purchased using any one of the University’s purchasing methods. At the conclusion of the research project, if stated in the grant from the sponsor, the equipment may become the personal property of the Fellow.