Computer / Software
Computer Purchasing and Procurement Guidelines


To ensure the best possible support and promote compliance with University-wide information security policies and federal information security standards, we recommend that computer equipment requisitions be coordinated with Information Technology Support at McCormick (McCormick IT and/or departmental IT) before any purchases are made. Furthermore, we recommend that computers purchased for university use not be bought by individuals using personal credit cards.


The policy is in place to ensure that computer devices connected to University resources, access University systems, and/or conduct research are:

  • Vendor approved with a master services agreement and support model
  • Aligned with hardware and software recommendations
  • Compatible with central and department information systems
  • Supportable by IT staff
  • Secured on the University network
  • Encryption capable
    • the device must have a trusted platform module chip which allows for hardware-based data encryption


These guidelines apply to all faculty, staff, researchers, and students at McCormick who use or are responsible for purchasing University-owned technology or software using University funds, including research funds or grants.


Prior to the purchase of computer equipment, consult with IT support staff to ensure you are getting the lowest price, the hardware or software purchase can be supported by IT in the long term, and the system is configured according to security protocols at Northwestern University. Purchase of computers through this policy ensures the following:

  • identification and allocation to appropriate fund source (University funds or federally sponsored project funds);
  • integration into the University’s asset management system for:
    • risk management
    • disaster recovery
  • monitoring computer replacement cycles
  • aggregation of multiple computer purchases into a single purchase;
  • advantageous pricing and shipping terms through University supplier contracts (i.e.: Dell, Apple, and CDW-G.);
  • exclusion of sales tax due to University’s tax exempt status;
  • standardization of computer configurations;
  • inclusion and installation of appropriate software packages;
  • documentation of warranty coverage;
  • coordination of supplier and technical support;
  • deletion or “wiping” of the computer hard drive when item is sold or otherwise disposed of;
  • including extra or underutilized computers to the loaner pool;
  • proper disposal of computers to comply with environmental regulations.

Computer Equipment Received via Grants for Gifts

Departments considering computer equipment as gifts from individuals, corporate sponsorships, and grants should work with IT Support at McCormick before accepting equipment donations. Equipment gifts will be reviewed to ensure that the gift is compatible with the University environment and that ongoing support can be provided. 

Standard Computer Configurations

A standard configuration will be established by IT Support, including:

  • Current supported version of Windows OS, Mac OS operating systems or Linux distribution
  • Current supported version of Microsoft Office Suite
  • Internet browsers
  • Data backups
  • Data encryption
  • Antivirus software
  • Vulnerability management software
  • Endpoint management software
  • Virtual Private Network
  • Centrally supported methods for NetID domain authentication