Technology Purchasing and Replacement Policy
Computers on the university’s replacement cycle are replaced every four years. Annually, Technology Services (TS) develops a standard computer configuration (and per computer cost allocation) based on available funding and the needs of the majority of campus computer users. This configuration or the equivalent cost allocation is then offered to those individuals eligible for a replacement computer.
Those faculty and staff who elect not to receive the standard configuration are given the option to apply the equivalent cost allocation to the computer of their choice. Any upgrades or model changes which cost more than the standard cost allocation must be paid by the eligible individual’s department (via the provision of a departmental budget number).
Non-Standard Configuration Purchase Approval
Computers purchased by the university from centralized TS funds will be chosen from models offered by vendors selected by TS. Standardizing vendors allows the university to benefit from economies of scale with regard to vendor support, pricing, maintenance and other agreements. These purchases will be approved by the Chief Information Officer or TS designee, who will also sign the purchase order signifying that approval.
Departments who request the purchase of office desktop computers from vendor(s) other than those selected by TS must be able to show that a model from a TS-selected vendor will not meet their specific software or hardware needs. The purchase order must carry the signature of the Chief Information Officer or TS designee to indicate the computer purchase has been reviewed and meets the requirement for a variation from standard practice. The purchase order will also have a notation stating the computer is not from a selected vendor.
Each year, computer replacements generally follow this pattern: Faculty computer installations begin around July 1 and continue into the fall term. Staff computer installations begin in late fall and continue through June 30. TS will work with clients to honor specific needs they may have for variations in this delivery cycle. Please note that, due to the volume of machines to be delivered, the two phases of the delivery cycle have a duration of several months. Not every faculty or staff member will receive their replacement at the beginning of the delivery cycle.
New Faculty or Staff
Business units and academic departments are responsible for funding the entire purchase of initial computer systems for newly added faculty or staff positions and also for ensuring that permanent funding for the ongoing replacement cost of these computer systems is available to TS through direct transfer of funds. Permanent replacement cycle funding is determined as being one-fourth (1/4) the total cost of the purchased computer (including tax and shipping).
If the new hire is filling a pre-existing position, TS assumes the computer used by the former occupant of that position will be used by the new faculty or staff member. If the department wants the new faculty or staff member to have a new machine before scheduled replacement, the department must provide the entire purchase cost of the new equipment, and TS will assume responsibility for the replacement cost (up to the annual cost allocation). TS will collect the original machine.
Printers and Other Peripheral Devices
Local and network printers (including ink cartridges and paper) are purchased by individual business units or academic departments or are provided by Print and Copy Services via specific arrangement. Technology Services is happy to consult on the selection of printers or other peripherals. We are also happy to assist with ordering and troubleshooting local and network printers as needed.
“Trickle-down” or Repurposed Computers
The presence of a large number of aging trickle-down computers creates a number of serious problems on campus:
- Older machines cannot run newer operating systems due to hardware limitations. Eventually, software manufacturers discontinue support for older operating systems. This means security patches are no longer available for these machines, which greatly increases the security risks for all users across the entire campus network.
- Campus software license agreements can be complicated or made more costly by increasing numbers of computers.
- The campus replacement cycle is not fully funded. The university is able to recapture funds via cash reimbursement for machines after 4 years of use. This reimbursement is then reinvested in replacement cycle funds. The likelihood of getting a cash reimbursement is much higher when machines are surplused at a 4-year interval. If machines are converted to trickle-down status, they are usually too old to qualify for any cash reimbursement by the time they are surplused.
- Older machines are more likely to fail, which is why the best practice in information technology and higher education is to follow a standard replacement cycle of 3 to 4 years. Hardware failure results in service calls, lost work, and much inconvenience on the part of the client.
In an effort to address these problems, any request for a trickle-down computer will require the department to trade in another machine (presumably older) to TS. The department always has the option of purchasing a new machine and providing ongoing replacement funds.
For all trickle-downs with software which requires a purchased license, either the department needs to show proof of the additional software license, or that software will be removed in order to be legally compliant.
Technology Services provides the following support to all approved computer systems:
- A connection to the campus network and the Internet. Wireless connectivity is available across campus, but hardwired connections are preferred for business operations. If no jack exists or an additional jack is needed, the requestor is responsible for the cost of such installation, which is approximately $150-$300 (depending on structural and other issues).
- Inventory of the computer for replacement purposes.
- Installation and configuration of the computer and supported software.
- Standard office software (Microsoft Office with Word, Excel, Powerpoint; PDF reader, etc.).
- Resolution of functional problems when notified by the user.
- Management of the repair request process if a malfunctioning computer is under warranty. TS will contact the vendor and follow the appropriate support procedures to replace the part or machine.
- A small stock of spare systems that TS can utilize for a computer that malfunctions and requires repair.
For machines not purchased in accordance with TS recommendations, TS will provide general support but may need to refer the client back to the vendor for assistance.
The replacement cycle is carried out by Technology Services staff under the auspices of the Vice President for Finance and Administration.