Policy on Information Technology Acquisitions

Last revised: May 5th, 2003

Background

IT acquisitions have a potential impact on more than one school or division and technology decisions made without central oversight can have unexpected, negative consequences. Therefore, the Policy on IT Acquisitions establishes conditions under which a contemplated information technology acquisition would be subject to review by the Technology Services division prior to going forward.

Although not a requirement, it is highly recommended that Technology Services be consulted in the initial phases of any significant technology planning.

The provisions of the Policy on IT Acquisitions are subject to change with proper executive review.

Objectives

The objectives of the Policy on IT Acquisitions are threefold:

  • To ensure that IT acquisitions integrate well into Tufts technology environment and facilitate the ability to carry out Tufts's business.
  • To ensure that any risk, security exposure or liability associated with an IT acquisition is identified and managed.
  • To ensure that Tufts University achieves the maximum value from any information technology investment.

Rationale

The University's business, which includes instruction, research, service, administrative functions, student and campus life activities and the exchange of ideas, is increasingly reliant on technology. Technology Services, a division of Tufts University, has as its charter to acquire, develop and maintain computers, computer systems, networks and telephony systems in support of the University's business.

The acquisition and use of computing resources at Tufts is not limited to Technology Services. All schools, divisions and departments at the University need, from time to time, to acquire, install and use technology resources. Nonetheless, Technology Services' core competencies are focused on the acquisition, implementation and support of information technology. In order to fulfill its obligations to Tufts, Technology Services staff maintain tactical knowledge of the University's systems and infrastructure and strategic knowledge of the University's information technology initiatives. This expertise and knowledge can help Technology Services staff evaluate IT purchases for their ability to integrate into Tufts existing and planned technology environment, avoid or limit risk to Tufts and enhance their cost effectiveness. The Policy on IT Acquisitions enables Technology Services to share in decisions regarding IT acquisitions.

To further assist schools and departments contemplating IT acquisitions, Technology Services has prepared and maintains an IT Technology Buyers Guide. (Click here to read the guide online.) The guide identifies resources in Technology Services who can provide consultative assistance on planned IT acquisitions and outlines some things to consider when an IT acquisition is contemplated.

Applicability

The Policy on IT Acquisitions applies to all IT purchases or acquisitions made on behalf of Tufts University. The policy covers planned acquisitions of information technology hardware, software, firmware and services or any combination of these things and applies regardless of the funding source (e.g., budgeted item, grant, gift, etc.). Those engaged in detailed budget planning, whether requesting University funds or applying for grant money, should proactively incorporate the Policy on IT Acquisitions into the planning process.

The only exceptions to the Policy on IT Acquisitions are acquisitions consisting entirely of commodity type items such as laptops, workstations, telephones, desktop software or personal digital assistants (PDAs) and servers. Use of servers at Tufts is governed by Tufts's Guidelines for Connecting Devices to the University Network.

Note that any acquisition of wireless network equipment by a group outside of Technology Services is always subject to formal Technology Services review. For details, see the Tufts University Wireless Policy.

Policy on IT Acquisitions

Any acquisition involving the purchase or acquisition of computers, network equipment, software, applications or information technology services including but not limited to software development, installation, implementation or provision of ASP services and satisfying any one or more of the three (3) criteria listed below must be reviewed by Technology Services. The review must occur before the acquisition may take place.

The criteria:

  • The contemplated purchase duplicates functionality or services that are already available at Tufts.
  • The purchase includes one or more computers that are to be maintained by Technology Services' Computer Operations group or that are to be housed in the Technology Services data center.
  • The initial value of the IT acquisition is more than $25,000 or the total-cost-of-ownership for the first 3 years (taking into consideration such things as initial value, installation, implementation, maintenance and support, and ongoing personnel costs) exceeds $100,000.

Anyone who is uncertain about whether his/her planned acquisition is subject to the terms of this policy should contact itacquisition@tufts.edu for assistance.

The Process

To initiate an IT acquisition review, the person coordinating the acquisition has a number of options. He/she can phone the Customer Support Center at 617-627-3376 or complete the first three items in the Acquisition Review Form (see Acquisitions Sample Form section below), attach it to an email message and forward it to itacquisition@tufts.edu. All requests for review will be acknowledged within one business day.

Based on the nature of the planned acquisition, the request will be assigned to the appropriate Technology Services director, and (s)he or his/her designee will contact the individual submitting the request. Together, they will determine how best to review the proposed acquisition. In most cases, the review will be completed during this initial contact. An IT acquisition review will, under normal circumstances, require no more than one week to complete. The individual requesting the review will receive a written response which will also be maintained on file in Technology Services.

If the review process determines that the planned acquisition should not go forward, Technology Services will work with the individual requesting the review to identify alternatives that are acceptable to Technology Services and to the individual, department or school. In those rare instances when no agreement on an alternative can be reached, the request will be reviewed by the Vice President for Information Technology and the appropriate information technology administrator for the unit, department or school that made the request.

In order to facilitate compliance, the terms of this policy have been incorporated into the Capital Expenditure Authorization (CEA).