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Index > Operations Policies > Surplus or Obsolete Equipment Disposal Policy

Surplus or Obsolete Equipment Disposal Policy


Surplus or obsolete equipment, which can no longer be utilized by operations at RISD or is in excess of need, should be disposed of in an accessible, equitable, and orderly fashion that maximizes remaining value for the institution and/or minimizes waste and cost to RISD.


This policy applies to all departments and RISD property, except where specifically exempted.

Policy Statement

RISD acquires, records, inventories, maintains, and disposes of capital assets. RISD also acquires, maintains, and disposes of non-capital assets and supplies. Each operating unit is responsible for following college procedures to achieve accurate capital asset reporting and compliance with government requirements. This policy outlines how the college complies with government regulations and accounting industry standards, and how it supports accurate reporting of the assets used to conduct its mission. RISD must properly classify, safeguard, and depreciate its equipment, and must abide by federal guidelines and the terms of sponsored awards with respect to the purchase, use, and disposition of equipment.


Assets- Anything owned by RISD, tangible or intangible, which has value. Examples include supplies, equipment, and intellectual property.

Capital Assets - Assets that have a useful life longer than one year and a historical/cost value greater than $10,000.

Equipment - A physical asset with a useful life longer than one year that either can be capitalized/depreciated (if historical value is greater than $10,000) or non-capitalized (value less than $10,000).

Federal Funds - funds received by RISD from a federal agency (Department of Education, National Institute of Health, etc.) typically in the form of a grant for a specific purpose. Fund use is governed by a grant agreement with the sponsoring federal agency.

Sponsored Project - a project funded by an external entity, donor, or “sponsor”. Sponsors can include a federal, state or local agency, non-profit organization, or individual/donor. Use of funding for a sponsored project is described in a contract between RISD and the sponsor.

Surplus Property - property owned by RISD that is no longer needed to support the operations of a department or the institution.


Surplus property is equipment or supplies which are obsolete, damaged, and unusable, or are otherwise not needed to support operations of a department or the institution. Ownership of all such property resides with RISD, regardless of how the property was obtained. Property purchased, all or in part, with federal funds must be managed in accordance with applicable college AND federal policies regarding capital asset dispositions. Property purchased, all or in part, with sponsored funds must be managed in accordance with applicable college and contractual agreements arranged with the sponsoring agency.

The Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration or their designee must authorize any disposal of College tangible property. They will utilize the guidance of colleagues such as the Provost, General Counsel, and the Chief Information Officer in authorizing a disposition. RISD property may not be salvaged, scrapped, donated or otherwise disposed of without this prior approval.

The Procurement Services Department with the assistance of Facilities and IT Services, is responsible for the disposal of all RISD surplus property. Procurement Services personnel will assist in determining the value of the goods and the method of disposal.

Procurement Services administers surplus disposal to meet the following governing priorities:

  1. Protect all RISD employees against compromising situations.
  2. Help RISD optimize its return for surplus property, by putting property to the best use possible, allowing reallocation to meet needs within RISD or selling for market value or as near market value as practical.
  3. Conduct sales in a manner that is fair and non-prejudicial to buyers and ensures transactions are both legal and ethical. Procurement Services avoids giving any particular buyer an exclusive opportunity to buy RISD property without giving others an equal opportunity; however, RISD employees can be given limited opportunities to buy certain items before they are extended to the general public.

Equipment which RISD owns and no longer has a use for may be sold or released to another institution or third party with approval of the owning department’s Department Head, Dean, Provost, and the SVP for Finance, subject to the following:

  • Equipment purchased with federal funds or a restricted gift may not be sold without written consent from the funding agency; [dependent on the agency] or donor in the case of a restricted gift.
  • Equipment funded by a non-active grant may be released only if the Research Office certifies that the equipment is not needed by any other RISD PIs;
  • If an active grant is being transferred to another academic institution, any transfer of equipment purchased on that grant during the active grant segment, must comply with all of the terms and conditions of the grant.


  1. Visit the Procurement Services website and fill out the Surplus or Obsolete Equipment Transfer Request Form Procurement Services shall review college inventory or purchasing records to ensure that the equipment was not purchased on a Sponsored account.
  2. RISD Environmental Health & Safety shall determine if the equipment or supplies may contain any hazardous substances/materials that may require special handling.
  3. RISD shall advertise the item to determine if that item is required by another department. Items recommended for sale must be offered to the RISD community.
  4. Procurement Services shall determine if the proposed sales price is actually the fair market value of the property. Sales prices that appear to be token amounts in order to circumvent college policy of not donating property will not be approved.
  5. If the sale price is satisfactory, RISD will send the buyer an agreement and invoice for the equipment’s fair market value.
  6. RISD shall collect the sales proceeds and distribute to the college in accordance with the fee structure.
  7. RISD will charge sales tax where appropriate.
  8. Payment must be received from the buyer prior to delivery.
  9. Transaction completion shall be confirmed with Procurement Services.

In general, items will be sold to the highest bidder; however, there may be occasions when a RISD bid may be given preference, even if it is lower than another offer upon approval by the SVP for Finance and Administration. Preference for equal offers should be given in the following order:

  1. Other RISD departments, with preference given to grants and contracts
  2. Local school districts or charitable organizations
  3. Employees, for personal use
  4. General public.

Surplus property that is not able to be redistributed or sold according to these preferences may be disposed of in the manner most economical for RISD.

Equipment purchased via a sponsored project

In all cases, if the requirements of the granting or contracting sponsor concerning the transfer of equipment are more stringent, they will supersede RISD policy. In general, equipment purchased with funds from a sponsored project becomes the property of RISD when it is delivered. There are, however, some sponsored agreements under which the sponsor retains title to any equipment purchased with sponsor funds. Great care should be taken when transferring any items that were purchased with funds from a sponsored project and the Research Office should be consulted.

Roles and Responsibilities

Departments - Responsible for the safeguarding of all equipment assigned to their school, unit, and/or department. Departments are responsible for working with Procurement Services to ensure that all such equipment is appropriately tagged and that any changes, Office including the sale, transfer, release, disposal or impairment of any equipment under their jurisdiction, are reported to the Controller’s Office.

Deans - Responsible for approving the sale, transfer or release of equipment no longer being used by RISD to another institution or third-party after certifying that the equipment is not needed by any other department in the college. Provost approval is also required.

Issuing Office: Controller’s Office / Procurement - The Controller’s Office is responsible for maintaining an accurate record of the college’s equipment inventory. It is also responsible for calculating and recording depreciation expenses, for establishing and assigning useful lives for all college physical assets, and maintaining final documentation of sales.

Provost Office/SVP for Finance and Administration - Authorizes the sale, transfer or release of equipment to other institutions or third-parties.

Museum - Responsible for working within this policy with the SVP for Finance and Administration, or their delegate, on approving the sale, transfer, or release of items no longer being used by the Museum to another institution or third-party. The deaccessioning and sale or transfer of works of art in the collection and non-accessioned furniture are exceptions to this policy.

Sale Proceeds Structure

Sale proceeds will accrue to the department or division from where the source of funding for the items being sold originated from. If the original source cannot be determined, the Provost or SVP for Finance and Administration will work with the selling department or division to resolve.

Revision history

This policy was created on: August 2021

This policy was approved as of: August 2021

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: August 2021

Next scheduled review: August 2024 and triennially thereafter


Issuing Office

Controller's Office

Responsible Officer

Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Procurement Services

Director of Academic Budgets and Planning