1.4 Service Center Users

A service center user is the individual or entity purchasing goods or services from a service center. Users fall into two broad categories, with some differences in policy and in accounting treatments.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Siu, Christine

Financial Management Analyst RAPC

Policy and Compliance

(650) 723-9063

1. Internal Users

Internal users are the primary service center customers. Sales to internal users are represented by charges to accounts over which Stanford University has fiduciary responsibility. Internal users from academic, administrative, and auxiliary areas purchase the service center services or products to support their work at Stanford. Purchases should be charged to a University PTA; cash sales are typically not appropriate for internal users.

See "Related Items" for a list of Stanford University's Service Centers.

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2. External Users

An external user is an entity or person over whom Stanford has no fiduciary responsibility, regardless of the user's relation to the University's academic mission.

For example, a person or company may be external to the University's mission, but wish to purchase the service center's service because of its unique equipment and/or its staff's expertise. Likewise, an external entity which is affiliated with the University's mission may wish to purchase service center products or services.

Examples of external entities include but are not limited to:

  • commercial entities, such as a drug company or other for-profit companies;
  • or an affiliated entity such as the external user Stanford Hospital Clinics (SHC) or non-affiliated not-for-profit organizations such as other hospitals, other universities, or government agencies
  • or a student, faculty, or staff acting in a personal capacity (versus in their student or employee role within the University)

The external user distinction is very important to the University for unrelated business income tax (UBIT), sales tax, FA (indirect) cost rate, and Organized Research policy purposes. There are some service centers which have external users. Sales to external users may be cash (for deposit to the Cashier's Office), or the sale may be posted to a Miscellaneous Receivable PTA. Proper accounting for, approval and monitoring of the use of a service center by external users is requested.

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