1106.31 Plant Assets

Retirement of Computing Equipment

Document purpose



October, 2004


September, 2009


May, 2023

Responsible Office





  • Computing Equipment:
    • Desktop and/or Workstation – A computer primarily used to provide direct access via a locally attached keyboard, mouse, and monitor to applications such as web browsers, email, office productivity, and data analysis tools for use usually by one individual
    • Server – A computer used primarily to provide network-based services (e.g. web, file, or email), for use typically by multiple users
  • Re-Use – pass on to another person within same/or another department (i.e. cascade)
  • Donate – present as a gift without reimbursement or payment for
  • Recycle – transfer to a vendor licensed to handle CRT and other hazardous elements of computers


  1. Departments may donate, sell, or recycle computing equipment that no longer meets either the current needs of the department or the minimum qualifications to remain on the campus network. Donations may be made through the Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) or other affiliated donor programs [refer to #7 below]. You may sell used and no longer needed equipment to members of the Penn community [refer to #5 below].

  2. The decision to donate, sell, or recycle computing equipment should occur in consultation with the designated Information Technology (IT) support unit.

  3. Before transferring computers containing any software, first make sure that Penn is properly licensed to transfer it, that it was not obtained illegally or in violation of license terms, and that the software was never copied illegally or in violation of license terms. Also, make sure that the transfer conforms to the terms of the software license. Internal software license inventory records should be updated to reflect any transfer or deletion of software.

  4. Determine the funds used to purchase the computing equipment and ensure the disposal method corresponds with the source fund’s instructions. Some source funds, i.e. grants, may prohibit the resale or donation of computing equipment.

  5. Sales proceeds for University of Pennsylvania property belong to the University. Checks should be payable to the “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.”

    State sales tax must be collected and remitted on the sale of property. The sales tax is based upon the location where the property is shipped.

    The University of Pennsylvania will not provide technical support for the ongoing use of the computer once the transaction has been completed.

  6. Electronically wipe computers or destroy physical media. Remove non-public data on a University computer or other electronic devices before the sale or transference out of the department’s direct control occurs.

    1. Use a secure file deletion utility that ensures that the data cannot be recovered by successively writing binary ones and zeros over files to be deleted.
    2. The same advice applies to storage media like computer tapes, disks, diskettes, etc. Be sure to completely remove any sensitive information before disposing of electronic storage media. University Archives and Records offer a standard service for secure destruction of confidential electronic records. For further details, see http://www.archives.upenn.edu/home/URC.html. If you need further help finding tools or services to do this, contact security@isc.upenn.edu.
  7. If donating or recycling

    1. Computer Donations Programs
      1. Penn’s Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) accepts certain computer equipment donations. Equipment that can be refurbished is upgraded and donated to various organizations.
    2. Recycle
      1. Recycling may be arranged through your school or center’s computing services group.
      2. Computing equipment may be disposed of through buyers of surplus and used computer equipment.
      3. Check the Information Systems and Computing web site for names of buyers and electronic salvagers.
  8. Departments may not discard computing equipment.

    1. Do not place any electronic equipment in the trash, even if it is broken. Electronic equipment may contain heavy metals and other materials that can be hazardous to human health and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers some discarded electronic equipment as characteristic hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Unwanted electronic equipment must therefore either be sold/donated for reuse or sent for recycling.
  9. Maintain records documenting all related transactions.

Risk of Non-Compliance

The use of automated tools and break-in scripts makes it easy for an unauthorized person to quickly access computing equipment and stored data if not properly processed for disposal. Systems that are not properly disposed of are likely to be discovered and broken into. Break-ins can also result in the destruction, alteration, or disclosure of sensitive data. Improper disposal of computing equipment may be in violation of EPA regulations.