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Equipment Management
Division of Financial and Business Services

Glossary of Terms

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Accessory Items are items which facilitate or enhance the operation of plant equipment, but are not essential for its purpose.

Administrative Contracting Officer is the duly authorized individual delegated by the appropriate authority to enter into a contract, and thereafter administer the contract, on behalf of the Federal Government or Sponsoring Agency.

Agency is an entity (e.g. organization, corporation, foundation, or person) from which the University derives external support through contracts or grants.

Auxiliary Items are items without which the basic plant equipment cannot operate. Award is a legal document providing external support. Awards include grants and/or contracts with external sponsors.


Capital Equipment is equipment that is an article of non-expendable (tangible) personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater per unit. Items that cost less than $5,000 or have a useful life of less than one year are considered materials and supplies.

Consumption is equipment that is consumed as authorized, in appropriate amounts, and with reasonable spoilage and/or scrap.

Contract is a mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish the supplies or services (including construction) and the buyer to pay for them. It includes all types of commitments that obligate the Government to an expenditure of appropriate funds that, except as otherwise authorized, are in writing. In addition to bilateral instruments, contracts include
(but are not limited to) awards and notices of awards, job orders or task letters issued under basic ordering agreements, letter contracts, orders (such as purchase orders), under which the contract becomes effective by written acceptance or performance, and bilateral contract modifications. Contracts do not include grants and cooperative agreements.

Contractor is the organization, or a separate entity of it (such as an affiliate, or division, or plant) that performs it's own purchasing. For purposes of this document, the University of Southern California is the contractor.

Contractor-Acquired Property is property acquired or otherwise provided to the contractor for performing a contract and to which the Government has title (FAR 45.101).

Custodial Department is the department at the University that is responsible for the physical control of the equipment assigned to their unit.


Equipment is an article of non-expendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater (per OMB circular A-21).

Purchases less than $5,000 are classified as materials and supplies (M&S) with the following exceptions:

Excess Government Property is the property no longer required in the performance of the contract for which it was acquired.


Fabricated Equipment is equipment that is constructed and developed at the University by combining discrete components and/or materials into one identifiable unit. The finished fabrication must have a unit cost of $5,000 or greater and a useful life of one year or more.


Government Furnished Property is property (equipment) in the possession of, or directly acquired by, the Government and subsequently delivered or made available to the university for usage in the performance of a contract or grant (FAR 45.101).  These items must be inventoried as mandated by the sponsoring agency.  The items are tracked and recorded in the university's Capital Asset managment System (CAMS) under object code 17013.

Government Property is all the property owned by, or leased to, the Government or acquired by the Government under the terms of the contract. It includes Government-furnished property and contractor-acquired property (FAR 45.101).

Government/Sponsor Owned Contractor Acquired Equipment is university acquired equipment with title vesting with the Government/Sponsor and an acquisition cost of less than $5,000. This equipment must be inventoried as mandated by the sponsoring agency.  These items are treated as an expense that is subject to indirect cost (F&A) burden under object code 17010 and are considered non-capital equipment.


Industrial Plant Equipment is plant equipment with an acquisition cost of $15,000 or greater.


Loaned Equipment is equipment that is either borrowed by the University from an external agency such as JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) or loaned by the University to an external agency or individual.


Material means property to be consumed or expended to perform a service.


Non-Capital Equipment is equipment with an acquisition cost of less than $5,000, where title vests with the Government/Sponsor, that must be inventoried as mandated by the sponsoring agency.


Plant Equipment is personal property of a capital nature (including equipment, machine tools, test equipment, furniture, vehicles, and accessory and auxiliary items) for use in manufacturing supplies, in performing services, or for any administrative or general plant purpose. It does not include special tooling or special test equipment (FAR 45.101).

Principal Investigator is the academic research member responsible for initiating and conducting extramurally funded research, training or a public service project. The individual may also be known as Project Director or Project Administrator.

Property means all equipment, both real and personal. It includes facilities, material, special tooling, special test equipment, and agency-peculiar property. Property Administrator is the authorized representative of the Administrative Contracting
Officer assigned to administer the contract requirements and obligations relating to the Government property (FAR 45.501).


Special Test Equipment is either a single or multipurpose integrated test unit engineered, designed, fabricated, or modified to accomplish special purpose testing in performing acontract. It consists of items or assemblies of equipment, including standard or general purpose items as components that are interconnected and interdependent so as to become a new functional entity for special testing purposes. It does not include materials, special tooling, facilities (except foundations and similar improvements necessary for installing special test equipment), and plant equipment items used for general plant testing purposes. (FAR 45.101).

Subcontract is any contract entered into by a subcontractor to furnish supplies or services for the performance of a prime contract or subcontract. It includes but is not limited to purchase orders, and changes and modifications to purchase orders.

Subcontractor is any supplier, distributor, vendor, or firm that furnishes supplies or services to or for a prime contractor or another subcontractor.


University Equipment is equipment to which title is vested with the University whether secured with general University funds or funds derived from extramural Sponsors.

University owned/Sponsor funded Equipment is university acquired non-capital equipment with title vesting with the university and an acquisition cost of less than $5,000. This equipment myst be inventoried and reported as mandated by the sponsoring agency. These items are treated as an expense that is subject to indirect cost (F&A) burden under object codes 17011, 17012.


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