University Policies
Policy Contact
Director, IT Support & Customer Experience Email 401-863-7349

Computer Purchase Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

Brown University is committed to providing essential, business-related tools for faculty and staff in a manner that promotes the proper stewardship of assets and establishes a framework for consistent decision-making. While recognizing that computing equipment facilitates University business, the University must manage the costs and risks associated with its purchase and use, including device security. The purpose of this policy is to outline approved processes and methods of payment for the purchase of computers.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to staff and faculty purchasing computers, laptops, or tablets with all funding that flows through the University. This policy also applies to situations when departments purchase computers for student use.

3.0 Policy Statement

3.1 Computer Purchases

All computers must be requested from the department’s designated ITSC (IT Support Consultant) or DCC (Department Computing Coordinator). ITSC/DCC will work with individuals/departments to provide guidance in identifying the solution that is the best fit for their needs and facilitate the ordering process to ensure that the device is properly enrolled in Brown’s IT security and device management program. The University currently has contractual arrangements with Dell and Apple.

3.1.1 Dell

Dell computers must be purchased through the Dell punch-out in Workday, which will be facilitated by the department’s ITSC or DCC. 

3.1.2 Apple

Apple computers must be purchased through the Brown Bookstore which, through its participation in Apple’s campus reseller program, provides the lowest academic discount pricing available. The Internal Purchase Requisition (IPR) is to be used for Brown Bookstore purchases in order to secure the lowest academic pricing and sales tax exemption. All internal Brown purchases made through this process are automatically exempt from sales tax. 

3.2 Reimbursements

Due to concerns regarding data/device security, warranty/ownership, and sales tax expense, and to align Brown’s practices with those of peer institutions, the University will not process reimbursements for computers.

3.3 Purchasing Card (P-Card) Use

The P-Card is not an approved method of purchasing computers.

3.4 Exceptions

Under limited circumstances, the University may approve the acquisition of a computer other than Apple or Dell by an academic or administrative department, provided that the department has demonstrated a sufficient teaching, research, business, or other special need to warrant the exception. The applicable ITSC/DCC will work with the department to review the specifications and, if appropriate, work with Strategic Sourcing/Purchasing Department to identify an alternate source for best pricing. In addition, ITSC/DCC will ensure that the device meets the minimum requirements to be supported by OIT, is enrolled in the Brown IT security and device management program, and can be configured, where technically possible, to comply with the Endpoint Device Security Policy.

Department requests for exceptions should be made as follows:

  • For academic units: By the Dean or their designee to the Provost, and
  • For administrative departments: By Vice Presidents or their designee to the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration;

with a copy to Purchasing and ITSC/DCC. 

3.5 Emergency Purchases

There may be rare emergency circumstances in which an employee must purchase equipment with personal funds and seek reimbursement (e.g. critical equipment lost or stolen while traveling, and without such purchase, critical work cannot proceed). Whenever possible, the individual should seek approval from their direct supervisor in advance of making the expenditure. This approval must be confirmed in writing and attached to the reimbursement request. If obtaining such an approval is not feasible at the time, subsequent reimbursement requests must be accompanied by a brief written justification of the emergency purchase and direct supervisor's approval of the expense.

Regardless of whether the computer is purchased directly by Brown, or through the above detailed exception process, it must be enrolled in Brown's IT security and device management program. 

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the term below has the following definition:


Desktops, laptops and tablets with no cellular plan (tablets with a cellular plan are covered under the Cellular Devices Policy)

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.

5.1 Office of Information Technology (OIT)

OIT will work with departments and employees as follows:

  • Identify computers that meet the departmental and employee needs and meet the technical requirements to be supported by Brown;
  • Enroll all computers in Brown device management programs;
  • Facilitate the ordering process; and
  • Ensure that the device is configured, where technically possible, to comply with the Endpoint Device Security Policy.

5.2 Cost Center Managers

Approve computer purchases

5.3 Employees

Contact their ITSC/DCC about specific computing needs.

5.4 Purchasing Services & Computing and Information Services:

Negotiate with suppliers to establish contracts with discounted pricing, favorable business terms, and service requirements for all university-owned computers.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures. 

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws, and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures

  • N/A

7.3 Related Forms:

7.4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  • N/A

7.5 Other Related Information

  • N/A

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Approved by: President

Contact Information:

Director, IT Support & Customer Experience Email 401-863-7349

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

On June 8, 2020, section 2.0 was clarified to state this policy applies to situations when departments purchase computers for student use  (prior language stated “for students”).



Website Updated September 28, 2023