Fixed Asset Management

Policy Summary

It is the policy of the George Washington University ("GW" or "university") to maintain effective internal controls to safeguard its fixed assets and to maintain proper records regarding the use and disposition of those assets. This policy applies to fixed assets acquired with funding originating from the university, the Federal Government, or other external sources, and by gift or loan. 

Related Regulations

It is necessary for the university to safeguard and maintain its fixed assets in order to receive the maximum benefit from those assets, to comply with university and federal requirements regarding the use and disposition of fixed assets, and to properly record and account for its fixed assets for financial accounting purposes. As a recipient of federal support under sponsored programs, the university must also comply with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (OMB Uniform Guidance 2 CFR §200) and for funding effective before December 26, 2014 - OMB Circular A-110, collectively referred to as Federal Guidance. In addition, Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Part 45 – Government Property prescribes the minimum requirements that the university must meet as a federal contractor in establishing and maintaining control over Government Property. 

Who is Governed by this Policy 

  • Staff
  • Faculty


Acquiring Fixed Assets 
A fixed asset is any tangible asset acquired for use in the normal operation of the university with a useful life of greater than one year and has a value of $5,000 or more. Fixed assets include items of property and equipment, such as buildings, office furniture and fixtures, computers, and other related technology equipment, including fabricated items. Bulk equipment purchases of the same items with individual values below $5,000, but a total purchase value of $50,000 or more (e.g., laptops or office chairs) will be capitalized as one item. Bulk purchases are not inventoried and therefore assets should not be purchased in bulk for a sponsored project.

All fixed assets should be purchased through the approved university procurement methods, including on a purchase order recorded through the Enterprise Accounting System (“EAS”), or via the university’s iBuy+ eProcurement platform.

Under certain limited circumstances, it may be necessary to fabricate a fixed asset from separate components or parts, some or all of which may have a unit cost of less than $5,000. When a principal investigator/fabricator determines they will be fabricating a fixed asset, they need to inform the Fixed Assets Department of the pending fabrication or any questions regarding the use of correct account.  

Records Maintenance 
The Fixed Asset Department of the Office of the Univeristy Controller provides direct administrative support to the schools and divisions regarding the control of fixed assets. This includes tagging assets, assisting with or conducting inventories, record keeping, general ledger reconciliation, and working with external auditors related to fixed assets for annual audit purposes. All records necessary for accounting and audit purposes, including the acquisition, capitalization, depreciation, and disposition of fixed assets are prepared and maintained in accordance with general accounting practices in the United States of America, and with federal regulations and university policies. 
The Fixed Asset Department keeps records of the property description, the serial number, the physical location, the asset tag number, the original cost, the acquisition date, and other information that is needed to safeguard university and federal assets. The use and condition of assets associated with sponsored projects are updated annually.

The purpose of the physical inventory is to verify the existence, and location of fixed assets, and to validate the accuracy of the university’s accounting records. The Fixed Asset Department conducts and manages a perpetual physical inventory process for assets purchased by the university and a biennial physical inventory for assets acquired with federal or private sponsor funding, as well as government-furnished assets and loaned equipment. The Fixed Asset Department reports any material unresolved differences to the school or division finance team for resolution. The finance director of each school and division approves final finished inventory report, including any assets write-offs.

When fixed assets acquired for a sponsored project are no longer needed for that project, the Fixed Asset Department works with the principal investigator, Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR), and other appropriate university personnel to identify plans for the fixed asset and receive approval for proper disposal of the asset in accordance with federal regulations or other applicable sponsor guidelines. 
For disposal of surplus property in general, see the Surplus University Property Policy.

Loss or Theft of Fixed Assets 
Loss or theft of all fixed assets, including electronic fixed assets, must be reported to Risk Management and the Fixed Asset Department via the Fixed Asset Status Form. In the event an electronic fixed asset is lost or stolen, an Office of Risk  Management Incident Report must also be completed in accordance with the  Laptop Computer and Small Electronics Theft Policy. If the electronic fixed asset contains Regulated or Restricted information, the GW Privacy Office along with  GW Information Technology must also be notified in accordance with the Personal Information and Privacy Policy and the Cybersecurity Risk Policy


Government Property: Any property owned or leased to the Federal Government or acquired by the Federal Government under the terms of the contract. It includes both Federal Government-furnished and contractor-acquired property. 
Fabrication: The construction or assemblage of a unique asset worth greater than $5,000 from separate parts or components, some or all of which may have a unit cost of less than $5,000. 
Fixed Asset: Any property, plant, furniture, equipment, and/or software that equals or exceeds a unit cost or gift value of $5,000, or a bulk purchase of same units with values under $5,000 but total purchase of $50,000 or more, and has a useful life of more than one year, including items fabricated from individual components. 
Disposition: The sale, transfer of ownership, or final disposal of any fixed asset. 


Related Information


Contact Phone Number Email Address
Financial Accounting & Reporting 571-553-4054 [email protected]


Responsible University Official: Associate Vice President and University Controller
Responsible Office: Office of the University Controller

Noncompliance with this policy can be reported through this website.