Computer Support & Replacement Policy


Executive Summary

The functions of Barnard College require most faculty and staff to have the use of supportable, up-to-date computers with appropriate specifications upon which to do their work. This policy defines the framework for how computers used to conduct the work of the College are supported and kept up-to-date.

Reason for the Policy

To clarify and communicate expectations for computer support and computer replacement.

Who is Responsible for this Policy

Barnard's Vice President for Information Technology or her designee is responsible for the maintenance of this policy and for responding to questions regarding this policy. The college reserves the right to amend this policy at any time.

Who is Governed by this Policy

All computers purchased by Barnard College, and the users thereof.

Policy Statement

Computer support

BCIT will fully support Barnard-owned, standard computers for four calendar years beyond the purchase date. These are units where the College's standardized software image is applied to a range of standardized models and configurations which the College purchases from approved vendors. BCIT arranges hardware diagnostics and, when necessary, warranty-covered repair or replacement with the vendors; and performs any maintenance, software upgrades, configuration changes, etc. required.

BCIT will make a best effort to support computers beyond four years of the purchase dates and will perform any possible workarounds to ensure that the end user can continue to work. However, departments use these computers at their own risk and BCIT is not responsible for any loss of data or productivity due to hardware failure (e.g., hard drives, memory) or software issues (incompatibility with new software versions and requirements). If a computer older than four years suffers an issue, then BCIT will require that the department take steps to replace it.

Computer replacement

BCIT recommends that departments and divisions plan to replace their computers well before the conclusion of that fifth year of service.  Delaying replacement of units increases the risk of sudden failure, leaving members of the College without the resources to do their work.

On a yearly basis, by mid-January, BCIT will prepare a computer inventory for the Vice-President of each department or administrative area (or the VP's designee(s)) that reflects its best knowledge of the computers belonging to that area.  The inventory will include

  • the computer's model and serial number,
  • what staff member the computer is assigned to (or that it is a departmental-shared computer),
  • the recommended fiscal year that computer should be replaced in,
  • and the yearly projected cost of each department's replacements.

Department heads are expected to use this information to plan their budget projections for necessary computer purchases. The Office of Budget & Planning (which also receives a copy of this data) may, at its discretion, question budget requests that do not include appropriate funds for a department's projected computer needs.

Please note:

  • Inventory data may be incomplete and/or inaccurate, particularly for computers that have been repurposed within a department, or which have only occasional use.  Department contacts should reach out to BCIT with any corrections.
  • Cost estimates are based on the staff member's existing architecture (Mac vs. PC, laptop vs desktop).
  • There is no assumption made in the inventory that either the quantity or the type of computers owned by a given department are appropriate for its business functionality.
    • Devices not included in the inventory:
    • Printers, scanners, docks, extra monitors, or other peripherals
    • Tablets or smartphones
    • Lab or classroom computers

A similar inventory is provided to the Provost's Office that covers the academic departments.

Non-Standard Computers

Barnard-owned computers that are not of a standard model or do not have the standard software image will not receive the same level of support.  If a member of the Barnard community chooses to purchase a machine of a non-standard model or to refuse the standard software installation, BCIT will give best-effort support; the exact scope of which will depend on the specifics of the unit.  (E.g, a standard model of computer with a non-standard software installation can receive the same hardware support, but will have limited software support.)

Use of Replaced Computers

When a Barnard-owned computer is replaced, BCIT will reclaim the unit, securely wipe any remaining data, and either turn the unit over to Facilities for electronic waste recycling/disposal or repurpose it within the College as needed.  Departments can request to have the unit repurposed within their area if the unit is still within support. Out-of-support Barnard-owned computers may not be taken away for personal use.


This policy is not meant to govern specialized computer equipment such as controllers for scientific equipment.  Faculty who are using such equipment should contact the BCIT Service Desk for consultation regarding their needs.

Faculty/Staff-Owned Computers: BCIT does not support computers owned by faculty and staff of the College beyond basic configuration for access to online services (Barnard College and Columbia University) and installation of approved software.

Student-Owned Computers: For information on what BCIT can do for student-owned computers, please visit the Student Computing Services page.

Applicable Acts, Regulations, and Laws



Departments which have budgeted insufficient funds for the upcoming year may need to defend that decision to the Office of Budget and Planning.


Barnard-owned computer: any computer which is purchased with Barnard funds, whether regular ("10-fund") or grant money ("21-fund").

Primary computer: a desktop or laptop computer for use by faculty and staff members for their day-to-day work.

Standard computer: a desktop or laptop computer purchased from a list of recommended models provided by BCIT, that has one of the College's standardized software packages installed on it.

Cross Reference to Related Policies

Academic Department Computer Purchasing Policy (Provost's Office)


For questions or comments:

Barnard College Service Desk
Telephone: 212-854-7172

Revision History

Policy Issued:  2012 (as Hardware Support Policy)

Revised: Jan. 2017