Acquire, Manage, and Care for Moveable Capital Equipment

Learn about the acquisition, management, and use of moveable capital equipment at Columbia University.


What is Moveable Capital Equipment?

Capital equipment at Columbia University is:

  • a tangible, permanent item with a life of at least two years,
  • neither permanently affixed to, nor part, of a building
  • held for purposes other than investment or resale and
  • has a value of $5,000 

Capital equipment includes University property and government-owned property.


The way capital equipment is acquired determines how it will be recorded and managed throughout its lifecycle. Equipment is acquired at the University by:

  • Direct purchase
  • Capital gifts-in-kind
  • Fabrication
  • Transfer from other institutions
  • Government-owned or -furnished equipment
  • Loaned equipment
  • Capital lease
  • Equipment purchased under construction contract

The majority of equipment at the University is acquired through direct purchases via purchase requisitions or P‐Card transactions.


University capital equipment is intended for institutional use and not for private purposes. Use may also be restricted by the terms of the award for which the capital equipment was acquired.

Read about the purpose of physical inventories below.


Receiving & Tagging

  • Receiving establishes physical accountability for capital equipment at Columbia University. The process ensures the correct equipment is received and is in good working order. Since the University does not have a central receiving function, capital equipment purchases are delivered directly to departments located on campus (i.e., Morningside, CUIMC, Lamont and Nevis) and at off-campus locations such as the R/V Langseth and ICAP centers.
  • The University contracts with an outside supplier to perform capital equipment tagging services. However, the supplier is only responsible for tagging assets located on the main campuses mentioned above. Off-campus locations such as R/V Langseth and ICAP centers are responsible for tagging their own assets.

Physical Inventory

Records of inventoried equipment are maintained by the Capital Assets Accounting (CAA) property manager in e-PRAIS® (Proprietary asset management software).

It is the responsibility of the custodial department to maintain the accountability of capital assets and report any unrecorded assets to the CAA property manager. 

Physical inventories are typically conducted by the University on a bi-annual basis and validate the accuracy of the property accounting record. This ensures rigorous financial reporting of both University moveable capital equipment and equipment not titled to the University.


The University administers a self-insurance program that provides all-risk insurance on University-owned property, such as audiovisual, scientific and office equipment, etc.

Environmental Stewardship

The Columbia Office of Environmental Stewardship assists in managing recycling and reuse efforts.  

The custodial department is responsible for maintaining the condition of the capital equipment to ensure the longest useful life possible.

Equipment Controlled by a Subcontractor

This describes property purchased or otherwise provided by the University for the performance of a contract. The title to this property is vested in the government because of its procurement with government funds.

OMB Circular A-110 and Federal Acquisition Regulations 45.510 apply to each agreement entered into by the University whereby government property may come under the control of a subcontractor.


Columbia maintains several policies for moveable capital equipment, including:


There are several forms that you can use for managing capital assets, including:

Property and Equipment Manual

For all Columbia University property and equipment policies and information, use the Property and Equipment Manual.


For questions or inquiries about equipment, contact [email protected]