Universities are required by federal regulation to place capital equipment into service within three weeks of purchase, regardless of source of funding. When such equipment is purchased by a USC department, Equipment Management is notified through the university’s Capital Asset Management System (CAMS). Equipment Management will then contact the department to schedule an appointment to affix a barcoded property tag to the equipment.

Please note that no equipment may be purchased on a 56 account.

Certain types of equipment purchases require additional steps by the department:


To be classified as a fabrication, equipment must meet the following criteria:

  • The equipment is being constructed and developed at USC by combining discrete components and/or materials into one identifiable, unique unit.
  • The finished fabrication must cost $5,000 or more and have a useful life of at least one year.

If you later purchase accessories or upgrades for the fabrication, enter the fabrication tag number off of the parent tag in eMarket under the Capital Asset Management tab. These items are tracked as a child asset of the main parent tag (e.g., 12345.1).

Fabrications are normally tagged when the main component of the fabrication is installed.


Equipment purchased from multiple vendors but used together as one unit is considered a bundle. The system must be purchased at the same time, have a unit cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of at least one year.
You must reference the same requisition number in eMarket under the Capital Asset Management tab on all orders that are part of the bundle.

Computer Clusters

A computer cluster consists of multiple computers with an acquisition cost of less than $5,000 each, but with an aggregated cost of $5,000 or more.
To be classified as a computer cluster, the individual computers must be used together for at least three years.


Specialized/custom software developed for the operation of a particular system — and with a value of $5,000 or more and a useful life of at least one year — should be acquired as equipment. However, software upgrades are not considered equipment.

Additional Components/Parts

If you acquire accessories with a value of less than $5,000 per unit for any equipment already in service — other than fabrications or clusters — enter the parent tag number in eMarket under the Capital Asset Management tab. These items are tracked as child assets of the parent equipment (e.g., 12345.1).
Additional components/parts can only be purchased within the first 12 months following the original acquisition, otherwise the parts are consider material and supplies.


If your department will be loaning out equipment, you must document the transfer in CAMS by completing the appropriate loan agreement before relinquishing possession.

Most incoming equipment loans are not tracked in CAMS unless the sponsor/institution requires tracking.

Gifts in Kind

If your department receives a donation of a tangible item with a value of $5,000 or more, contact the Office of University Advancement at 213-821-6094 so the gift may be recorded in its Advancement Salesforce System. Donated equipment is entered into CAMS when the appropriate paperwork is received from the Comptroller’s Office.

Incoming Equipment Transfer

If a principal investigator transfers to USC from another institution and brings equipment with them, the department custodian must notify Equipment Management of the transfer. Once the equipment has arrived, Equipment Management will work with the USC department or the transferring institution to acquire the official documentation.