Capital Equipment

Advancing the understanding to the UW–Madison campus community of policies and procedures established to support the proper stewardship of capital equipment from initial purchase to disposal.


The Property Control team of Accounting Services is tasked with guidance and management of the UW–Madison capital equipment policies and procedures. Capital equipment records are required for both Federal and University titled equipment and follow University, State and Federal property guidelines. Equipment information, including item description as well as financial data, is stored in a centralized database for ease in reporting and to provide accessibility for all Madison departments. The Property Control team is tasked with supporting campus in conversations on the following capital topics:

  • Campus training on capital policies and procedures
  • Year-end financial reporting to UW System
  • Maintenance of the Asset Management System
  • Tracking of Capital Fabrications (Campus builds of capital equipment)
  • Transfers between Departments
  • Loan contracts
  • Federal reporting
  • Scheduling and facilitation of campus wide physical inventories
  • Facilitation and responses on external audits

View Capital Equipment Definitions (PDF)

Training

Department Property Administrator (DPA) training

The Property Control Team has launched a new self-paced Department Property Administrator (DPA) training in Canvas, with registration through the OHRD website. This course provides an overview of policies and procedures that have been established to support the proper stewardship of capital equipment. It covers the DPA’s roles and responsibilities along with the procedures for disposing of assets, fabrications, gifts in kind, upgrades, loans, inventory, and transfers of equipment. The estimated course completion time is 75 minutes.

This course is required for all new Department Property Administrators.
This course is recommended for all Department Property Administrators.

Register for the Department Property Administrator Training

After registering, access the course through your Canvas account. You can access Canvas through the MyUW Canvas tile or at canvas.wisc.edu.

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Capital Equipment review course

The Capital Equipment Review Course allows DPAs to review specific topics without retaking the Department Property Administrator Training. Course participation is not documented and no completion credit is given.

The course is also open to Primary Investigators (PIs) and others who would like to learn more about the accounting for Capital Equipment.

Access the Capital Equipment Review Course

Capital Equipment Question & Answer (Q&A) sessions

As of Fall 2023, the Property Control Team conducts online Q&A Sessions each month via Microsoft Teams. Materials and an invite to access the session will be sent to all who registered at least two business days in advance of the training. Late registrations can be coordinated by emailing Dawn Rekoske.

These optional sessions are open to all persons interested in understanding the Capital Equipment Policies and Procedures, including Department Property Administrators (DPAs), Primary Investigators, and Financial Specialists. The session will review a specific Capital Equipment topic and provide an open forum for people to ask questions they might have. Please be advised this Q&A session does not replace the standard required training for new Department Property Administrators.

Fall semester 2023

Spring semester 2024

Fall semester 2024

Check back in late summer 2024 for the dates for future Q&A sessions!

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Department Property Administrator Information

A Department Property Administrator (DPA), is an individual assigned by a department with capital equipment to serve as the liaison between their department/division and the Property Control team on all matters regarding capital equipment. These individuals are trained on policies and procedures and are the first line of communication for departmental questions/concerns.

Roles and Responsibilities of a DPA:

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Designation, training, and certification

Every campus department holding capital equipment must designate a Department Property Administrator (DPA). Property Control will formalize this designation through a written agreement with the DPA. Personnel designated as DPAs must undergo initial and periodic refresher training and certification, administered by Property Control.

Tagging

All capital assets must be tagged with asset barcode tags which are administered by the Property Control team of Accounting Services. Tags are to be adhered to the asset upon the arrival to campus, or in the case of fabricationed assets, when put into service. Assets which may not have tags adhered due to extreme weather conditions or sensitivity of equipment must be maintained by the DPA. Additional information pertaining to the asset’s location, serial number, make and model are communicated by the DPA to Property Control so inventory records may be updated in the central asset management system.

Tracking

The DPA is also responsible for notifying Property Control of capital asset location changes (assets moving to a different room or building), cost center updates, trade-ins, transfers in, transfers out, gifts, disposal, and any other status changes.

Overseeing disposition process

Prior to initiating a “Surplus Requests” pick-up with SWAP, the Department must notify the DPA, who will ensure Property Control disposition forms are completed and routed for review and approval. Property Control will facilitate appropriate conversations and review with additional responsibility centers. After the DPA is notified by Property Control that there are no restrictions to the disposal, the DPA may forward to their Departmental contacts who may initiate the “Surplus Request”.

Capital asset inventories

At Property Control’s initiation, the DPA is responsible for conducting periodic inventories as defined by Capital Equipment Policy for their department(s). DPA will provide the oversight of students, etc. if engaged for taking inventory. The DPA or their designee scans all Department asset tags and reconciles with Campus Property Control Records. DPA obtains the Chair’s/Director’s and Division’s Chief Financial Officer’s signature approval as required (inventory, transfers, unaccountable losses, etc.).

Regulatory audits

The DPA assists Property Control as needed for any regulatory or other external audits.

Local awareness activities

DPAs will train/orient new employees or anyone taking on new responsibilities within the given unit/department related to capital equipment usage, procurement, disposition and/or related facilities.

Forms

Please note if you are using the Property Control fillable forms: When you click on a form link and you can see it on your screen, you may need to download the form (top, right-hand navigation bar) in order for the fillable fields to be visible. Please complete your form, either save or print, and submit as requested.

Common questions

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How do I initiate a new DPA for my department?

To initiate a new DPA, the Department should send notice to the Property Control email account (property@bussvc.wisc.edu) and list the Department’s UDDS number, the name of the new DPA and the Employee ID number of the individual. Property Control will draft a DPA Agreement Form and route to the individual.

The DPA will need to sign and route to the Financial Representative listed on the document for additional signatures. Once all signatures are received, the DPA should route the completed form to Property Control. Property Control will sign and route a finalized copy to the DPA.

How do I see a listing of capital equipment associated with my department?

DPAs can access the Capital Equipment Assets tool in WISER. A list of Departmental Property Administrators for each Department is listed on the DPA List. Please contact your DPA to request information on your departmental capital reports.

Does it matter if a DPA is University Staff or Academic Staff?

No, a DPA can be either a University Staff member or an Academic Staff member.

Why are DPAs being asked to sign an Acceptance Agreement and have their position descriptions (PDs) updated?

The DPA Acceptance agreement communicates the expectations of the DPA and establishes a partnership with their divisional CFO for important financial matters. The PD changes and DPA Acceptance Agreement were established to communicate expectations and establish a partnership between DPAs and their Divisional CFO for these important financial matters.

What percentage of time should be allocated for the DPA’s roles and responsibilities into a position description?

Because the number of assets and activity level such as the number of movements, additions, and dispositions vary so greatly among campus departments, there is no prescribed percentage allocation in position descriptions. That level of discretion is being given to units on campus.

Are we able to have more than one DPA assigned to a department?

DPAs are assigned at the department level for tracking and communication to campus. This is linked to the UDDS code at the fourth digit. (Example: A0305XX). Although a department may allocate several individuals within the department, all communication and signatures will need to be facilitated through the recognized individual.

If capital equipment is beyond its useful years of life and fully depreciated, is it still considered capital equipment?

Yes, although the equipment may be fully depreciated, it still needs to be tracked and inventoried as it can be audited anytime the equipment is in use and active. It is only after the equipment is disposed and custodianship is released from the University that it is considered inactive and no longer is necessary to be tracked.

Who calculates depreciation on capital equipment?

The depreciation calculation is the responsibility of the Property Control office and is a function of the new PeopleSoft Asset Management module.

If I am getting rid of old capital equipment and they are going to SWAP, should I contact the Property Control office?

If you are not the Department Property Administrator (DPA) for the equipment, please contact your DPA for guidance. The Property Control office will assist the DPA through the disposal request process.

The Property Control office should be contacted before contacting SWAP, as the equipment may have been entirely or partially paid for by a Federal sponsor who placed restrictions on the disposal of the equipment. Property Control will work with the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (RSP) to identify any restrictions.

I want to loan UW–Madison capital equipment. How do I initiate the loan?

Property Control procedure 3008.10 “Asset Loan Agreement Procedure” documents the process for lending UW–Madison equipment. The Department Chair should complete the Asset Loan Request form (PDF) and route to the Dean/Director’s Office for additional signatures. Signature authority for the Dean/Director’s signature is located on the Property Control website on the DPA List referenced in the “Financial Contact” column.

Who should I contact if I want to enter into a contract to borrow equipment from an outside entity?

Signature authority for capital equipment loans to the University is held by the Director of Financial Information Management (see staff directory). All loan contracts are required to be submitted to the Director of Financial Information Management for review. Review of contracts may require the involvement of other departments and legal representatives and therefore it should be anticipated that the process may extend several weeks.

We have a Research Associate joining/leaving our department. What capital considerations need to be made?

If you are aware of changes with a Research Associate who has associated capital equipment, please contact Property Control at property@bussvc.wisc.edu.

The name of the individual and details of the equipment should be supplied along with a contact name from the Department that would have an understanding of the employment contracts for the Researcher. Property Control will reach out to the Department to discuss details of the transition.

I have a piece of equipment located at an off-site location. What requirements need to be considered?

Proper stewardship of capital equipment involves the ability to attest to the treatment and usage of equipment at all times. If University capital equipment is located in a building not associated with UW–Madison, additional details will need to be supplied to Property Control for consideration.

  • What is the physical location
  • Is this location outside of the United States
  • Are sponsored contracts involved
  • How long is the equipment intended to remain at the location
  • Is a UW–Madison employee permanently stationed at the location

I need to have a Federal Report completed for capital equipment associated with my project.

Federal Reporting is facilitated by the University’s Research and Sponsored Programs Department (RSP). Capital equipment reports associated with sponsored contracts must be completed using the central office asset management system maintained by the Property Control group of Accounting Services. RSP will request the required reports from Property Control when necessary. Please contact RSP for assistance in facilitating these requests.

I want to trade in my equipment.

At times, a department may receive discounts on new capital equipment when exchanging existing equipment. A process of evaluation is required prior to entering into exchange contracts. The DPA will submit Disposition Request Form (PDF) to Property Control to initiate the review of the existing asset to be used as exchange. This review will confirm title, sponsored contract restrictions, and UW–Madison policy restrictions to the use of the asset in trade. All purchase orders that involve traded capital equipment must line itemize the trade listing the capital asset ID and the value received for the trade.

Contact

Property Control
21 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53715

(608) 262-5748