Technology Hardware Acquisition, Disposition and Replacement Policy

The following policy outlines F&M’s approach to the acquisition of information technology hardware.  The College has entrusted ITS with responsibility for the support and timely maintenance of the College network, servers and workstations to include College-owned computer hardware, software and peripherals. This policy establishes expectations for the purchase, use and re-use of technology hardware that assures, as a community, we are being responsible stewards of College resources, aware of security considerations and consistent in our practices.  The chief drivers of this policy are cost containment and greater standardization of purchase and acquisition practices to ensure accurate inventory and data security of significant assets. 

With any policy there are circumstances that call for exceptions.  A few of the most common are noted in the document, as appropriate.  Questions concerning exceptions may be directed to the College’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).

This policy applies to all purchases made with Franklin & Marshall funds, including departmental funds, grant funds (while not specifically F&M money, these are administered by F&M), ITS funds, and faculty start-up funds.  The  enforcement of this policy is the responsibility of the CIO.  The CIO has authority to delegate enforcement responsibilities to specific individuals in College departments or divisions outside ITS.

DEFINITION:  “Technology” means many things to many people.  It can mean anything from a cable or small digital camera to a desktop computer or printer.  Throughout this policy the word ‘technology’ when not otherwise qualified refers only to computers, monitors, tablets (such as iPads), software, including subscription based software, printers, and most devices that connect to the College’s network.  While ITS will gladly offer advice and guidance and/or facilitate making other types of purchases, this policy is not aimed at those needing small peripherals (for example cables, an adaptor, a specialized mouse, a thumb drive, a small webcam, a voice recorder,  microphone or speaker.)

Technology Purchasing

To achieve the best possible and most effective service levels for all F&M-owned technology, technology purchases are made through ITS.  Contact the ITS Help Desk to initiate the purchasing process for all technology needs.  F&M will not reimburse nor support the purchase of any technology-related item, unless that purchase was made through and/or with the knowledge and approval of ITS. Departmental technology purchases may not be charged to an individual’s College provided purchase card or reimbursed through an expense voucher.  

By working through ITS, faculty and staff can expect assistance and guidance that helps to assure purchases are sustainable, compatible with existing systems, and can be adequately supported.  To aid in this endeavor, ITS has negotiated purchasing agreements with hardware, software, network, and telecommunication vendors, service agencies, multimedia companies, software developers, and others.  Involving ITS in technology purchases and taking advantage of pre-negotiated purchasing agreements helps assure the needs of our campus users are met, such as:

  • Compatibility with F&M’s network environment

  • Compliance with F&M’s security requirements and policies

  • Suitability, based on needs assessment

  • Licensing compliance for any bundled software purchases that accompany hardware devices

  • Efficient distribution of software in accordance with vendor license agreements;

  • Hardware that can be efficiently supported

  • Availability of sufficient F&M funds (including initial and recurring costs), and to assure sales tax exempt status

  • All equipment is entered into the College’s asset management system

Computers for Active Faculty & Professional Staff

Standardizing equipment purchased allows the College to efficiently select and manage technology, obtain better technology pricing, reduce maintenance costs and increase access to training and assistance. These standards are re-evaluated periodically based on common needs, vendor offerings, cost, reliability, supportability, quality, sustainability, compliance with recycling policies and timeliness of vendor response. 

Franklin & Marshall College will provide one College-owned computer to each member of the faculty and professional staff of the College, including visiting faculty, to perform the required work of their position.  A College-owned computer is defined as a computer that is optimally configured for the general activities associated with being a staff or faculty member and optimized to work on the F&M network with associated adequate security provisions and may be new or used.  These computers are referred to as the person’s primary computer. If a faculty member requests to have a primary computer above the standard configuration, these requests are typically reviewed by the Committee on Instruction and Research Support (CIRS).  If approved, the faculty member may have to use his or her department, grant or endowed fund to cover the additional cost.  It is not allowable for an individual to use their own personal resources to pay for this cost differential. Professional staff members who believe they need a computer above the standard configuration will need approval from their division head.

New professional staff who require a computer for their work will receive a computer with the operating system pre-determined by their department or division, and based primarily upon the requirements of the work they are expected to perform.  ITS may fulfill the request with a new or used computer depending on available inventory.  Professional staff seeking an exemption to their division’s pre-determined operating system standard will require their division’s VP approval.

New faculty receive a letter from the Provost's Office explaining how to make a computer request to ITS prior to arriving on campus and explaining eligibility.  Depending on the faculty member's status, options may vary.  ITS works directly with the Provost's Office to formulate those offerings.

Should an individual’s position require more than 1 computer, the individual’s department bears the cost of the additional equipment.  That additional equipment will be returned to ITS when it is no longer needed, or when it reaches the end of its useful life.  ITS staff will work with departments to determine whether equipment is no longer needed.   As described in greater detail later in this document, if a department is re-purposing equipment (for example transferring a second computer from a departing employee to a new hire) ITS must be contacted so that the computer can be reformatted and College asset records updated. Additional desktop or laptop computers or desired peripherals such as docking stations or external monitors for laptops (either for individuals or to share within a department) are purchased through ITS, but charged to departmental accounts.  

Shared space computers:  In some organizations on campus, computers are needed for student workers or other flexible staff. ITS may provide computer equipment for such purposes. Because of data security concerns, administrative departments are strongly discouraged from purchasing extra shared equipment for their department. Departments are encouraged to reserve loaner equipment for short-term needs through the College's Technology Lending Center.

Support for research and the academic program

Computers that support faculty research, specialized equipment, or private labs are typically funded by departments, grants or the Provost’s Office. These categories of equipment are the property of the College and are not eligible for replacement using ITS funds (whereas a faculty’s primary computer is).  Replacement of such systems is the responsibility of the department, grant or Provost’s office and should be considered for replacement when they near the end of their useful life as defined below. ITS will provide support to the extent feasible given the skills and knowledge of current ITS staff members. In some cases, departments may provide their own staff to support such computer systems, however systems are still subject to the College’s technology policies. 

ITS understands that some individuals and certain departments have specialized computing needs.  These are typically handled through direct consultation with the individual, their department, and ITS.  These discussions should be held in advance of submitting a grant proposal, spending start up funds or committing to a departmental or Provost Office purchase, to assure standard network compatibility, security policy compliance, best possible pricing and longer term support and replacement expectations have been determined. 

Technology purchases within grant proposals

Grant proposals for external funding that include technology components should include advanced consultation with ITS.  Please coordinate with the CIO on technology-related purchases prior to submitting the proposal.  

Technology for active researchers who are emeritus faculty

Emeritus faculty are not eligible for College-provided computer hardware (for example through the process overseen by the Committee on Instruction and Research Support (CIRS)) and are expected to return their primary computer at the time of their retirement.  ITS will gladly assist a retiring faculty member with advice on purchasing a personally owned computer. At times, emeriti may be provided ongoing access to research technology within their academic department, or to a shared computer. Access to such technology is done in coordination with their department chair, through consultation with the Provost’s Office. Software may be provided to emeritus faculty when it can be done in compliance with current license agreements. License agreements limit what ITS can provide and can change from year to year at the software license provider’s discretion.  In particular software licenses may require ITS install software only on College owned computers or require a College affiliation of ‘current faculty, staff or student’ or the annually renewable status of ‘visiting scholar’ which is granted at the discretion of the department chair and Provost’s Office.  Regarding resources offered by the College Library, please refer to current policies on access to print resources and technology resources (library.fandm.edu/policies.html). Access to subscription based electronic resources is controlled through an individual's F&M NetID and will vary based on a person’s current affiliation with the College.

Policy on Printer Purchasing and Repair

ITS provides leased multi-function copier, printer, scanner units (MFPs) to departments and programs based upon their needs and also provides units in ‘public’ locations across campus for all faculty, staff and students to use.  In some cases these units also include faxing capability if the department or program requires it.  All supplies, repairs and paper are included in this program and departments, programs and students are charged only for their use (number of printed/copied pages.)  Since 2012, as part of institutional efforts to both contain costs and be responsible consumers of natural resources, ITS funded purchases of desktop printers for departments and programs was eliminated in favor of the leased equipment model.  As well, in-house repair of desktop printers purchased using departmental, grant or start-up funds was also eliminated given the significant time and effort typically required to do so and the frequency with which the issues were hardware related and needed to be referred to an outside vendor.  F&M actively discourages the purchase of desktop printers by departments and programs in favor of the College’s leased units, however should a department believe they need to make such a purchase they should seek approval from their division's leadership and work through ITS to make the purchase.  Doing so will assure the unit selected meets all of the criteria articulated above in section titled ‘Technology Purchasing’ such as, compatibility with F&M’s network and assures once received that the printer is appropriately inventoried and configured on F&M’s network.  Should a unit purchased by a department or program require repair or maintenance, ITS will provide a local recommended vendor the department can contact and pay for those professional services.  ITS is responsible for appropriately recycling printers acquired by departments and programs when they reach end of life.

Policy on ownership and sale of College-purchased technology

All technology, including hardware and software, regardless of how the purchase was originally funded (departmental funds, ITS funds, endowed funds, etc.) remains the property of Franklin & Marshall College.  F&M does not consider requests for sale or retaining for non-College uses (‘gifting’) of technology to faculty, staff, retirees or students; for example at the time of departure from F&M.  This is true regardless of how the equipment purchase was originally funded.  For a variety of reasons including information security, restrictions of software licensing contracts and general interest of fairness to all who might want to buy used goods from the College, ITS is not authorized to sell or give away technology items directly to individuals.  

In some instances, specialized technology is acquired that is associated with a faculty member’s research.  Should that faculty member leave F&M, there is occasionally a need to arrange for specialized hardware or software to move with the faculty member to their new institution. At the direction and authorization of the Provost’s Office, ITS will work in partnership with the faculty member, Provost’s Office and any other needed stakeholders to arrange for this exception and any associated requirements, to include documenting the transfer.

Other questions about purchase or sale of College technology should be directed to the College’s Purchasing Agent in the Vice President for Finance & Administration’s division. 

 

End of Life

Computers and equipment must be returned to ITS at the end of their useful life and are not automatically eligible for replacement.   ‘Beyond the end of its useful life’ is generally defined by ITS as equipment that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Is unable to run a newer operating system
  • Requires an operating system that is considered end of life
  • Is greater than 8 years old
  • Lacks necessary storage or memory to apply critical security patches, browser or software updates. 
  • Becomes damaged and is too expensive to repair

Depending on age and condition, ITS may use for parts, and/or recycle retired equipment. ITS is responsible for the proper removal of data from computers that are returned to ITS.

Equipment replacement policy

Franklin & Marshall College does not have a guaranteed computer equipment replacement cycle. Various procedures managed by ITS help to track the age of equipment and are used to focus limited resources on replacing units at the appropriate time, which is typically no sooner than every 4 years for each faculty and staff member's ITS-provided computer.   This replacement and upgrade  process administered by ITS excludes computing equipment used for specialized research or other distinctive uses. 

Disposition of replaced equipment

When a new computer is delivered by ITS, and the recipient has worked with the delivering technician to assure it is working satisfactorily, the old computer will be returned to ITS.  ITS can typically derive several years of service from a computer beyond its first years as a faculty/staff primary workstation, thereby optimizing the lifetime service an individual computer can provide to the campus. ITS will gladly pick up other unused older computer equipment that was previously purchased by the College.  This equipment may be repurposed on campus, responsibly recycled, or donated through the Ware Institute for Civic Engagement to worthy local and international causes after being cleaned of data and software.

Computer purchases cannot be made for individual’s personal use.  ITS will, from time to time, make information available from some vendors that offer special incentives to employees for their personal use but those transactions are carried out directly between the vendor and the employee.

Computer return at time of departure

ITS is typically alerted by Human Resources when an employee is planning to leave the College. ITS will contact the employee and their supervisors regarding the need to return their computer to ITS. ITS will retrieve the device, scrub it of data, and update the College's asset database before the computer is re-issued to another user.

Data retention when employees depart

For liability reasons, it is considered bad business practice to allow a department to retain a departing colleague’s computer in order to retain or retrieve files for departmental operations.  Under normal departing circumstances, a department should work with their colleague to relocate files from an employee’s computer to an accessible and shared location prior to their last day of work.  ITS is happy to advise and assist.  In circumstances where an employee departs suddenly or unexpectedly, ITS will work with colleagues in that department to retrieve and retain relevant files before removing the computer.  Departments are urged to establish operating practices that avoid creating and maintaining critical operational files on an individual employee’s office computer.   ITS will work with faculty to accommodate the special needs of researchers in these circumstances.

Asset Management

ITS will affix an F&M asset tag (typically a small sticker with a unique number on it) on all assets subject to this policy and will maintain an inventory database to include a description of the device and who it is assigned to, and how it was paid for if it was funded outside of ITS. 

ITS may install software to track information about the device, which is essential for locating equipment when it is lost or stolen; and in some cases being able to reliably remove data from a stolen asset.  ITS may also periodically conduct a physical inventory to ensure asset records align with the physical location and individual we believe has possession of the equipment. ITS may also work with departments to retrieve and re-distribute equipment that is not being utilized.

Governance and Enforcement

This policy was created and is overseen by policy endorsers, which includes representatives from the College Information Technology Committee (CITC), Finance Office, Provost’s Office and ITS organization.  The endorsers will review this policy periodically to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the College.

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Policy Maintained by:  Information Technology Services, Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Last Reviewed:  18 September 2017