I propose that a Government-wide Reuse and Disposal program be established. This would allow for quantifiable cost savings in procurement and disposal across the entire government. It would also result in a measurable reduced impact on the environment.
Too often equipment that is disposed of within one agency is still useful to another. A computer that was used for high speed data analysis 3 years ago is still more than sufficient for use in the area of general office work. Yet all too often that computer is disposed of in a manner that results in a stripped and damaged machine that may or may not be made available to the public at auction, and is unlikely to be purchased. The end result is the unnecessary cost of a new computer system and the unnecessary cost and environmental impact of a disposed system.
By mandating that agencies turn general use office equipment, IT equipment and vehicles into a Reuse and Disposal department significant cost savings would be realized.
Using GSA Auctions as a template, a Reuse and Disposal Office would offer the equipment for reuse to all government agencies at a nominal cost. Operating on a first-come first served basis and allowing personnel operating from any .mil or .gov address to view the available equipment would allow for rapid turn-over. After a set period of time, perhaps 90 days, the equipment would then be available to state agencies at a slighter higher cost. After an additional waiting period the equipment would then be offered to the general public at auction, with a minimum price set to cover expenses.
This initiative could be enhanced by encouraging agencies to reuse existing gear through the publication of rules requiring a search for re-useable equipment prior to new purchases. To avoid the stripping of equipment prior to submission for reuse, leadership could have their performance criteria revised to reflect both the ratio of reused to newly procured equipment and the condition of disposed equipment submitted for reuse.
The cost savings for one small activity of 2,000 personnel who replace general purpose computer and office equipment every 3 years would be significant. Assuming a conservative cost of $3,000 per employee every 3 years, utilizing reused equipment for only 1/3 of the employees would save $2,000,000 over three years.
Allowing states to obtain reusable equipment would reduce their need to for federal funding resulting in additional federal budget savings. Finally, allowing reusable equipment to filter down to the general public gives the taxpayer a chance to obtain another tangible benefit from their federal taxes, rather than burdening them with the cost of disposing of still viable equipment.
Implementation costs are minimal. The infrastructure already exists as part of GSA Auctions. Refinements would need to be made, but no additional personnel should be required to implement and run such an initiative.