4. Equipment and property management
- Establish effective property management systems.
- Put in place effective inventory and control systems for both expendable materials and supplies, and non-expendable items.
- Establish properly controlled procedures for the requisition and issue of materials and equipment.
- Store materials and equipment safely and securely in a way that is easy.
- Conduct regular physical counts and inventory reconciliation.
- Record the transfer of property between staff, units or projects in the appropriate inventories.
- Dispose of items in accordance with donor policy.
- Put in place building and equipment service and maintenance contracts.
- Insure all valuable assets.
Depending on the size of the emergency operation, additional equipment will be required to support the response. Some critical equipment will be required immediately and should be prioritised by the procurement department to ensure it can be purchased immediately (such as provisions for teams deploying to the emergency zone, telecommunications equipment required for team safety and security, and other work equipment required for the response to proceed). Administration should organise the necessary supplies and the conditions in the area of operation. Some examples of critical equipment include:
- computers (desktop and laptop), printer, UPS and additional battery packs
- telecommunications equipment
- tables, desks and chairs
- cash box/safe
- water, filter and storage containers
- generator and fuel
- safety and security equipment
- accommodation requirements
- food and kitchen equipment and supplies
- various office equipment and supplies (as per suggested list at Annex 18.7).
Management of property varies according to the type of property. There are two main categories: expendable materials and supplies; and non-expendable equipment.
4.2.1 Expendable materials and supplies
Expendable materials and supplies are generally only used once and cannot be reused. Examples include office stationery and supplies, some vehicle spares, electrical and plumbing materials, kitchen and housekeeping supplies, repair and maintenance materials, and medical supplies. These can be further classified under ‘consumable items’ (low or moderate unit cost-such as stationery, electrical and plumbing materials) and ‘non-consumable items’ (high unit cost-such as vehicle spare parts and equipment). All expendable items should be categorised, inventoried, controlled and used responsibly in accordance with the following guidelines:
- Supplies should be tracked using a central stock inventory ledger (see Annex 18.8).
- Record all stock transactions
- Issue items only on the basis of a requisition form. See Annex 18.9 Sample Stock Requisition-cum-Issue Form.
- Maintain bin cards (Annex 18.10) for all moderate- and high-value expendable materials, and update with each transaction.
- Details on the bin cards should match the stock inventory ledger records.
- Any discrepancies in the bin card or the stock inventory ledger should immediately be brought to the attention of the direct supervisor.
- Conduct monthly physical counts to ensure control of expendable materials and supplies.
- Properly file all requisition/issue slips to serve as support documentation for the bin card and the stock inventory ledger.
4.2.2 Non-expendable equipment
This category of equipment includes all items that have long-term usage. Examples include vehicles, communication equipment, computers, electrical equipment, mechanical equipment, office and field equipment, and furniture. Non-expendable items should be controlled, tracked and accounted for by an effective inventory or centralised property management system, considering the following guidelines:
- All non-expendable equipment should be received at a central delivery point by a designated Administration staff member.
- Categorise non-expendable equipment under high-value items (above USD500) and low-value items (below USD500).
- After verifying delivery against the accompanying support documents, the receiving officer should record the specifications and serial number of each item received. The supervisor should enter this information into the Central Property Register or the Consolidated FFE (fixtures, furniture and equipment) Data Bank.
A sample format of the Central Property Register or Consolidated FFE Data Bank is provided in Annex 18.11. See the annx for the details it should contain.
- All non-expendable equipment must be clearly and indelibly marked with an inventory code number before being released to its assigned unit or project. Inventory code numbers must follow a pre-identified inventory code series for FFE categories and must be recorded in the Central Property Register.
- Each unit or project should also maintain its own complete inventory (including the names of staff members to whom equipment has been assigned) of non-expendable items for regular cross-verification with the Central Property Register.
- Any transfer of equipment between users within the unit or project should be noted in the unit or project inventory ledger.
- No equipment transfers between sectors should take place without the approval of the Central Inventory Controller.
- All equipment transfers between units or projects should be done using an equipment transfer form (see Annex 18.12). The transferring sector and the Central Inventory Controller should retain copies of this form.
- A monthly physical verification of all non-expendable property should be completed for further control and accountability.
- Any loss of equipment should be reported in writing immediately to the Central Inventory Controller.
- A quarterly review should be carried out of the Central Property Register against the unit or project inventory ledger and a physical verification of all assets should be carried out by the audit unit to ensure validity, completeness and accuracy of the Central Property Register/Consolidated FFE Data Bank.
Administration is responsible for issuing equipment and supplies to users in the CO, and ensuring that correct procedures are followed to ensure adequate control and accountability, and efficient stock replenishment. The following guidelines can assist:
- Establish authorisation for requisition based on the type of item, and the staff member’s responsibilities and position.
- Issue stored items from stock only with an authorised requisition/issue form.
- The issue of expendable items of low or moderate unit cost requires only a simple pre-numbered requisition/issue form (Annex 18.9).
- Each unit or project should maintain its own register for office supplies and prepare a monthly Office Supplies Consumption and Status Report for replenishment (Annex 18.13).
- To issue expendable items of high unit cost, a more detailed issue form is required. See Annex 18.14.
- The person requesting spare parts should return the part being replaced to the storekeeper. Record the serial numbers of spare parts being issued to match when returned.
- All requisition forms supporting issues from the store should be maintained by the storekeeper to support the entries made on the bin card and in the stock inventory ledger.
- Those expendable items that are issued for use outside the storage or working area should be released through a waybill/gate pass. See sample in Annex 18.15, and Chapter 15 logistics.
- Only authorised signatories should recommend a requisition form or a waybill/gate pass. The Administration unit must maintain an up-to-date list of authorised signatories on file. See sample in Annex 18.16.
Stock of materials and equipment should be stored in secure storage rooms. These storage rooms should be securely locked and accessible only to authorised administration staff who are responsible for storekeeping. All people assigned to operate stores must receive adequate training in CARE inventory systems, and be made fully responsible for expendable and non-expendable items in their custody. The duplicate keys for storage rooms should be in the safe custody of the appropriate senior manager (ACD programme support or Administration Manager).
Storage areas can be in the form of large warehouses or small stores depending on the type of commodity, quantity and distance from the project site. For detailed guidelines on warehouse management, see the chapter on Logistics.
Proper storage of goods is essential for:
- ensuring security of goods and materials
- maintaining stocks of frequently used supplies and materials
- enabling cost-efficient bulk purchasing of frequently requested supplies and materials
- providing temporary storage for used or spare items awaiting redeployment
- providing in-transit storage for non-inventory project materials awaiting distribution.
Effective and efficient storage practices require appropriate maintenance of storekeeping records. Follow the below guidelines:
- Maintain bin cards for all items of significant quantity.
- All receipts and disbursements of stock should be immediately posted on the bin cards and the stock inventory ledgers.
- Maintain a white board in the store to provide an up-to-date at-a-glance listing of the categories of items in the store.
- Maintain the store to help with physical verification at any time for reconciliation with both bin cards and stock/inventory ledgers.
- The bin cards and stock/inventory ledgers for items in constant demand should indicate a minimum balance figure to start stock replenishment in a timely manner
- Store the different categories of items in an organised and orderly fashion, and dispose of junk items after regular evaluation and authorisation.
- Frequently examine the stores for leakage, infestation, security threats, etc., and undertake necessary and timely precautionary and preventive measures.
- Only authorised staff of any project or unit should have access to the store, but always in the company of the storekeeper.
- It is essential to maintain a tracking sheet for non-inventoried project equipment that is temporarily stored before donating to local partners. This will ensure that unauthorised transfer does not take place. See Annex 18.17 for Sample Tracking Sheet for In-Transit Storage.
Regular physical count and inventory reconciliation is a vital control measure in an emergency to ensure basic accountability. Some guidelines are:
- The supervisor should conduct a physical count of all non-expendable property at least once a month. This count should be reconciled against the Central Property Register.
- Maintain a Physical Verification and Reconciliation Record. See sample in Annex 18.18.
- Verify any discrepancies by examining the purchase request, purchase order, waybill, good received note or other documentation.
- Regularly update the Central Property Register in cases of change in location, condition or transfer.
- All adjustments to the Central Property Register should have authorisation by the Team Leader/ACD/Country Director.
- Conduct formal verification at least twice a year by an independent team of two, preferably from Administration and Finance.
- Each unit or project should maintain its own FFE list, a copy of which should be submitted to administration every quarter for verification and cross-reference.
Where properties are transferred between projects, units or staff, then follow these guidelines:
- All equipment transfer must have the written approval of the appropriate senior manager.
- All items identified for transfer must be clearly marked with the appropriate inventory code number.
- Equipment for short-term use by staff members should be released on the submission of an authorised Equipment Request and Authorisation Form. See sample in Annex 18.19.
- Maintain an Equipment Issue Register, which would include changes in users. See sample in Annex 18.20.
- It is mandatory for staff members to report in writing to the administrator any damage/loss/exchange of the equipment assigned to them.
- Upon departure of any staff member from the organisation, the Equipment Issue Register should be reconciled with a physical verification of items returned by the staff member.
- Permanent transfer of non expendable inventory items require an Equipment Transfer Form (Annex 18.12) and a waybill to be completed, and two copies of both documents should accompany the items that are being reassigned.
- If an inventory item is being transferred permanently between projects or units, it is mandatory to obtain the written authorisation of the Finance Controller, ACD or Country Director and to strictly follow donor requirements.
- Note the receipt of the item in the Central Property Register ‘remarks’ column.
- Staff members must report in writing any damage/loss/exchange of the equipment assigned to them.
Administration should identify any items that require disposal on the basis of usefulness, requirement, condition or cost effectiveness.
Items proposed for disposal should be submitted to the Team Leader or ACD programme support for approval, and seek permission from the donor where required. An inventory of items for disposal (sample at Annex 18.21) should be prepared and cross-checked by audit or finance units. Items should then be disposed of in accordance with existing CO policy. Ensure that this is consistent with any specific donor guidelines.
Where the CO does not have existing policy or procedures for disposal of items, refer to Annex 18.22 for guidelines.
Maintenance and repair of buildings and equipment are important elements of property management that allow relief operations to be carried out with minimum interruptions. The Administration unit should quickly identify service providers who can be contracted to provide regular repair and maintenance services.
The terms of the contract can state if the contractor will be employed on a ‘retainer’ basis with a mandatory monthly service, or if they will be on ‘call’ basis and paid for each day of service and cost of spare parts. See Annex 18.23 for a Sample Service Provider Contract, or the chapter regarding Procurement.
Insurance of assets is guided by Lead Member policy. Existing COs should follow existing insurance policy, but note that it is important to check if the emergency has created any changes or exclusions to insurance policies. See Annex 18.24 for specific guidelines for CARE USA-managed CO vehicle insurance requirements.
Non-presence operations should consult the coordinating CI Member to put in place insurance for assets. Local legal requirements should also be verified. For example, in some countries it is mandatory to purchase local insurance for vehicles and property.