1.1 Overview

Presents a basic definition of property and background on the administration of property at Stanford.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Bachar, Ivonne M.

Director PMO

Property Management Office

(650) 723-9095

To report a broken link or send comments/suggestions about property management content, send email to:


1. Introduction

Property management at Stanford University is an integral process supported by all departments. Effective and efficient management of equipment and materials, throughout their life cycle, help ensure university activities are performed in accordance with our policies, procedures and sponsor requirements. The property management system is comprised of policies, procedures, online systems, and people, which support the overall educational, research, and administrative missions of the University.

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2. Definition

Within the context of this manual, “property” primarily includes equipment. However, depending on regulatory or other compliance requirements it may also include materials and supplies.

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3. Stewardship

Effective stewardship and accountability of property, both Stanford- and sponsor-owned, are essential. Property is accountable to designated departments, each of which is responsible for the day to day management, use, care, record-keeping, and disposal of those assets.

Each member of the Stanford community has a general obligation to safeguard and make appropriate use of property owned by or accountable to the University. This includes property either assigned for individual use, or as part of a common area. This obligation includes but is not limited to:

  • notifying the appropriate Department Property Administrator (DPA) of the acquisition, movement or disposal of property
  • exercising reasonable care in use to prevent damage and maintain good condition
  • exercising reasonable security measures to prevent theft or misuse
  • reporting lost, stolen, damaged or otherwise impaired property to appropriate parties, including but not limited to a direct supervisor or common area manager

Stanford is one of the largest research universities in the country. Because the federal government and other granting agencies often sponsor funding for research, management of this property has high visibility and may be subject to greater scrutiny and audits.  Also, if your department receives donated equipment, there are additional rules and regulations to follow. See Chapter 2.5 for information on how to handle donated property. Accurate recording of all equipment, whether sponsor-funded or not, directly impacts indirect cost recovery requirements and other reporting requirements.

Accurate and effective management will benefit individual departments and Stanford as a whole. For assistance, departmental staff should contact their Department Property Administrator (DPA). DPA’s requiring assistance should contact their University Property Administrator (UPA).   

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4. Official Systems of Record

The financial systems at Stanford University are integrated as of 9/1/2003. Property systems are part of the financial systems; Oracle Financials contains several inter-related modules. The final repository of all financial transactions and balances is the General Ledger. The following systems, working in conjunction with each other, make up the “official” property record.

  • Sunflower Assets (SFA): Used by DPAs and the Property Management Office (PMO) to create and maintain asset records for the accountability, tracking, physical inventory and disposal of property
  • Grants Accounting (GA): Used by DPA’s and PMO to track fabrications while they are still work in process
  • Oracle Fixed Assets (OFA): Used to calculate and track equipment depreciation and University accounting (central office use only)
  • PMO Material Tracking System: Used by DPAs and PMO to create and maintain records for the accountability, tracking, physical inventory and disposal of government-owned material

PMO is the authorized group on campus to grant access to SFA. Additional supporting documentation is obtained from other University systems, such as iProcurement.

Stanford's campus is, by its nature, a decentralized place. The Sunflower Assets (SFA) database provides a central information resource where departments and administrative offices can locate a given piece of equipment by searching for an SU.ID tag number, serial number, steward, custodian, etc. SFA and FA form the central, auditable property record for Stanford University; they provide crucial information for the university relative to Stanford capital assets and government or sponsor funded assets. At Stanford a capital asset is defined as having all of the following:

  1. An acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (for items paid for after 9-1-2003; prior to 9/1/2003 the threshold was $1,500)
  2. A useful life of more than one year
  3. Be an individual, stand-alone, moveable, tangible item

All capital and sponsor-owned property, except material which is tracked in the PMO Material Tracking System (MTS), must be recorded and tracked in SFA. Departments are also encouraged to use SFA as a single repository for all other property they manage, such as sensitive property, and other non-capital items the department chooses to track. Having a single record facilitates reporting, eliminates redundant and duplicate record entry into unofficial shadow systems, and can be used to track purchase trends within the department. It can also help maximize reutilization to avoid unnecessary purchases, and be used as a tool for replacement planning.

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5. Security of Property

Each member of the Stanford community has a general obligation to safeguard and make appropriate use of University and sponsor-owned property and equipment either assigned for individual use or part of a common area. Each department must ensure that there are reasonable security measures implemented in their areas to prevent theft, damage or misuse of equipment. The Department Property Administrator (DPA) must play an integral role relative to these issues. Please review Section 3.6 for detailed information on security.

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