Internal Controls for Fixed Assets and Inventory

Risks: Theft, Improper Recording of Assets, Inaccurate Inventories

Fixed Assets and Major Equipment Inventory (Capitalized)

Syracuse University defines “major equipment” as equipment with an expected useful life of more than one year and a value greater than or equal to $5,000. Within the Comptroller’s office, the Property Management team is charged with oversight of the central record-keeping of all fixed assets, whether the purchase is with University or sponsored programs funds. Data such as description, cost, age, depreciation, location and custody is maintained in the PeopleSoft Asset Management System. Individual departments/schools/colleges are responsible for the physical safeguarding of the assets, tracking of an asset’s movement, or disposal. Specifically the department/school/college should:

  • Ensure capitalized equipment has a tag issued by Property Management
  • Complete the annual inventory reports listing capitalized equipment. A physical inventory is required to be taken to validate accuracy of system records. Any differences should be investigated, documented, and reconciled. The inventory should be conducted by someone other than the person responsible for purchasing the assets. Property Management should be notified of any updates that need to be made to the inventory system by returning the inventory report, signed by the Dean, Director, or Department Head.
  • Fill out appropriate form that acknowledges receipt and responsibility for equipment that is being removed from University premises
  • Notify Property Management if capitalized equipment is moved to another location on campus. Provide the tag number, previous location, and the current location so the inventory records can be undated accordingly.
  • Contact Excess Property to determine the appropriate method for disposing of surplus equipment.

Related SU Policy/Procedures:

Property and Equipment Overview (Overview, Procedures, Forms, FAQs and Policy)
Insurance and Claims Reporting Policy
Disposal of Excess Property

Portable Equipment

Internal Audit strongly encourages departments to keep track of equipment that falls under the $5,000 capitalization threshold that may be easily misappropriated. Examples include: laptops, cameras, video cameras, iPads, tablets, and cell phones. Best business practice should include maintenance of a department inventory list. The list should at minimum include a description of the property with an identifying factor such as a serial number and the employee to whom it is assigned. Additionally, a physical inventory should be performed annually. University property should be collected upon separation of employment.

Physical Inventory Purchased for Resale

Perpetual inventory records should be maintained and periodically verified.

  • Receipt of inventory for resale should be verified by two people: One to record the receipt into the inventory system and another to secure the goods. The person responsible for ordering inventory should not be the same person to receive it.
  • Inspect receipts to ensure they are accurate and not damaged
  • Store inventory in secure areas where loss from fire, theft, temperature, humidity or other elements is minimized. Access to these areas should be restricted to authorized personnel.

Physical inventory counts should be taken periodically (at least annually) by someone independent of purchasing and custody of the inventory, using blind counts. Variances should be investigated and analyzed for possible control deficiencies.