Property Accounting FAQs
General Property Accounting
Property management is the process of safeguarding University property through the use of internal controls such as accurate record keeping, physical inventory checks, and communication between department equipment coordinators and central property accounting.
Property management is important as it has multiple impacts on the University.
- All Board of Regent’s universities are required to adhere to KBOR and the State of Kansas policies pertaining to acquistion, use, and disposition of fixed assets. Please find policy information at KBOR and State of Kansas Policy Library. Failure to follow these policies is not an option.
- Poor property management has a financial impact for the University. Departments that fail to protect and track their equipment often incur additional costs to replace poorly maintained or lost equipment. Additionally the University’s central property records are just one of many items used to calculate the University’s Facilities and Administrative Cost Reimbursement Overhead rate (F&A rate) that is negotiated with the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). The F&A rate is the reimbursement that the University receives from sponsored projects for use of its facilities & administration resources, and inaccurate property records can cause a reduction in this rate. This reimbursement provides the majority of annual operating funds for the Kansas Center for Research (KUCR) as well as funding for our research centers, departments and individual investigators. Therefore any potential reduction in the University’s F&A rate impacts the entire University community not just the department responsible for the property.
The FITC Asset database maintained by Accounting Services is primarily used to track inventory items with an original purchase price of $5,000 or more as well as construction projects with an original budget of $100,000 or more.
Departmental equipment coordinators are responsible for maintaining a separate listing of equipment items considered “highly vulnerable” to theft. This listing should include desirable items such as computers, digital projectors, cameras, recorders, software, power tools, weapons, etc. Information that should be tracked on this listing includes: equipment description, acquisition date, make, model, serial number and any other unique identifying information to assist University Police in case of theft.
In addition to the information available on this website, Accounting Services also provides one-on-one training for anyone new to property management or for those who just want a refresher course. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As noted above failure to follow University policies regarding property accounting has an impact on your department as well as the University community.
Department equipment coordinators, as well as their immediate supervisors, will be contacted by Accounting Services when situations arise that fail to follow appropriate policies & procedures. Additional follow up may include executive administration. Therefore, department equipment coordinators that fail to follow University policies & procedures may face performance evaluation issues.
As noted above, our office is more than willing to provide assistance and training to anyone who requests it. Failure to comply with policies and procedures due to lack of training is not an acceptable excuse.
Equipment or construction projects funded solely with KUEA funds are typically transferred to KU by KUEA. Departments that receive an “equipment transfer” from KUEA will be sent an informational request form from Accounting Services. Since the information that KU receives from KUEA regarding equipment transfers is extremely limited, we are reliant upon departments to provide detailed information including but not limited to model, manufacturer, serial number, location. Departmental equipment coordinators are responsible for completing this form and returning it immediately to Accounting Services so that the item can be added to the University’s central asset system.
Equipment or construction projects funded solely with KUCR funds are typically considered KUCR property and will be tracked on KUCR’s asset system.
Equipment or construction projects funded with a combination of State, KUEA and/or KUCR funds are considered state property and will be tracked by Accounting Services.
Yes. All items purchased with state funds are considered state property and any items with an original value of $5,000 or more require written approval prior to disposal.
To request permission for disposal, departments are responsible for electronically submitting a DA-110 form to Accounting Services. The form and form instructions are in the Financial Services Resource Center.
Researchers leaving KU for another position might be allowed to take the equipment they’ve been using. Equipment transfer requests are handled on a case-by-case basis based upon the following criteria.
- The equipment is not needed at KU by other faculty and/or staff.
- Grant funded equipment and/or supplies may be transferred at no cost as long as the grant is also transferring with the researcher.
- Non-grant funded equipment and/or supplies may be “sold” to the new organization based upon a negotiated value.
- The minimum value that the University will accept for equipment is:
- Net Book Value (Original Cost less Accumulated Depreciation) – Accounting Services will provide this value for all centrally tracked assets and will assist in calculating this value for non-centrally tracked assets.
- 5% of Original Cost – For fully depreciated assets.
- The Department Chair must negotiate and approve all transfer requests.
- All negotiated transfers must be documented via written agreements between KU and the new organization. Accounting Services can assist with draft written agreement.
- Accounting Services must receive the written agreement signed by all parties before any equipment is removed from campus.
REMINDER: These types of transactions take a significant amount of time to coordinate. We highly recommend that departments contact Accounting Services as soon as they become aware of the request.
Disposal options available to departments include:
- KU Surplus
- eWaste recycling
REMINDER: Donations to employees or other individuals are strictly prohibited.
The University has numerous assets that continue to be functional well beyond their depreciable useful lives used for financial reporting purposes (i.e. eight years for most equipment; five years for vehicles). Thus, there is no way for Accounting Services to automatically know when an asset has become obsolete and is ready for disposal. It is the department's responsibility to have internal controls in place to dispose of assets once they have become obsolete and/or are no longer needed or used by the department.
Communication within your department is your key tool!
While Accounting Services is responsible for performing an annual physical inventory of all centrally tracked assets, we cannot keep track of the movement of individual equipment items between physical inventories. We recommend that department equipment coordinators communicate regularly with their department managers, supervisors, research investigators, etc.
Additionally when moveable equipment does move throughout the year, department equipment coordinators should contact Property Accounting Services at email@example.com. We recommend department equipment coordinators contact Property Accounting Services to update the location codes at the time that they become aware of the move as updating location codes at the time of movement is a lot easier than trying to remember where an item moved to months later.
The annual moveable equipment inventory for assets with an original cost of $5,000 and above occurs year-round. This annual inventory is required by the State of Kansas. It is also a great property management tool for tracking moveable equipment.
For new items purchased, the Property Accounting team will contact department equipment coordinators on a monthly basis to barcode new capital assets.
For items purchased in prior years that need to be rescanned, the Property Accounting team has developed a tentative year-round schedule. Our goal is to complete the University’s inventory of non-research equipment throughout the Fall semester and the inventory of research equipment throughout the Spring semester. The annual deadline for all assets to be inventoried is June 30.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as well as Governmental Accounting Standards Board guidelines require assets to be recorded at original acquisition cost and then depreciated over their “useful” lives for financial reporting purposes.
For KU owned assets, individual asset depreciation is calculated and maintained centrally. Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets as set by the “Regents’ Institutions Capital Asset Policy.” Depreciable useful life should not be confused with “physical life.” Physical life refers to the total length of time an item of equipment is physically retained and used.
Regent’s institutions useful lives:
- Buildings & Building Improvements = 40 years
- Land Nonstructural Improvements/Infrastructure = 25 years
- Vehicles = 5 years
- All other Equipment = 8 years (including computers)
- The estimated useful life of some capital items may deviate from the above standard policy based on industry standards, practical experience known at the time of acquisition, and/or building componentization.
The original acquisition cost, in addition to other unique asset identifiers, is often used on property accounting reports to help faculty and staff identify specific assets. For example, most faculty and staff can remember and identify a $10,000 piece of equipment that was purchased five years ago versus identifying an asset with a current net book value (original value less depreciation) of $3,750.