Equipment costs

Capital equipment is defined by the University as a permanent asset costing $5,000 or more per unit and having a useful life of at least two years. The cost of shipping and installation is included in the cost of the equipment.

The budget should specify the name and manufacturer of the equipment whenever possible. Sponsors may want to see the manufacturer's specifications and price list, particularly if the equipment is very expensive.


Operational software is purchased in conjunction with hardware and is considered part of the purchase price. Software applications which are purchased separately are considered equipment if they meet the dollar threshold per licensed user as described above. Leased software is not identified as capital equipment, regardless of cost.


Extended warranties are not capitalized under Duke policy and should go in the "other direct costs" category.


If a project will need equipment which is not commercially available and must be fabricated, all the costs associated with its fabrication will be considered part of the cost of the equipment.

The final cost of fabricated equipment should be estimated, included in the equipment category, and excluded from F&A cost recovery. The budget narrative should clearly identify all of the costs which will be associated with the production of the equipment, such as materials, salaries, and travel. Sponsored Programs has post-award accounting procedures to track expenses associated with fabrication. When the equipment is completed it will be tagged and inventoried.

Buy American:

If a contract is used to fund the proposed research, the purchase of non-U.S. manufactured equipment may require special authorization under the Buy American Act.

Equipment Screening Form: 

The Equipment Screening Form is required for purchases made on reportable projects. The form will require signatures from a Departmental Representative confirming that they have reviewed the completed form and related attachments. The completed form must appear in the Notes and Attachment section of the Buy@Duke Cart. Questions regarding allowability or procedure should be directed to your PAFM liaison.