Local

August 31, 2012

Comm Sq does spring cleaning to get ready for newer technology

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by Darnell Gardner
452 AMW public affairs
hauling
Maj. Michelle Van Sickle, executive officer, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, guides Maj. Barry Van Sickle, flight nurse, 452nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, down a loading ramp during the Tech Refresh computer turn-in, Aug. 23. Senior Airman Isis Ponce, administrator, 452 AMW public affairs, pictured at top of the ramp, along with Capt. James Studer (not pictured), rallied to collect more than 100 computers for exchange. The Tech Refresh program is set-up to replace expired computers with up-to-date systems on a one-for-one swap. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Darnell Gardner)

“You have to give in order to receive,” was the tone set by the 452nd Communications Squadron, as they prepared to receive more than 1000 expired computers,  all-in-communication devices, and other electronic equipment, in compliance with the Tech Refresh program, from various agencies throughout Team March organizations, Aug. 23.

“Technology refresh, also known as Tech Refresh, is a system utilized by the U.S. Air Force to keep its personnel on the cutting age of technology,” said Debra Meredith, base equipment custodian officer, 452d CS. “The average life-span of a computer is five years, so when that period ends, it is exchanged for a newer, more advance computer. In an ideal situation, it is a one-for-one swap, but with today’s budget constraints, users need to get creative when redistributing equipment.”

Meredith explained that the biggest hurdle during the exchange process is meeting equipment turn-in deadlines. “The majority of our equipment custodians are Traditional Reserve Airmen and not always present to monitor the location or life-span of the computers,” she said. “The sooner the equipment is tagged, turned-in and removed from inventory lists, the sooner our users can begin to receive newer computers.”

“This will be a great opportunity to do some spring cleaning,” said Scott Everett, alternate base equipment control officer, 452d CS. “Once the equipment is removed from user’s account, we really get busy around here.” He explained how the hard-drives are stripped from the computers and then shredded into useless pieces of shrapnel, to alleviate the possibility of inadvertently releasing personal identifiable information, hidden in the crevasses of the hardware.

When the computers have been purged, they are then packed in tri-walls (wooden and cardboard containers) and readied for pick-up by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices representative. “During an average turn-in, the base collects roughly 30-37 tri-walls, each with the capacity to hold roughly 30 computers,” said Everett.

The DRMO representative picks up the inventory, weighs the containers and then transports them  to the regional site, based on Camp Pendleton, Calif.  Once there, DRMO preps equipment for sale to government liquidators, or transfer to prisons or schools.

“When the warranty expires on our equipment, it costs the government money because they have to pay for extended licensing for software,” said Everett.  “So, in the long run, getting rid of this equipment will save the government money…the newer systems usually come with updated software and warranties.” In addition, DOD gets a return on investment when government liquidators purchase the used equipment, he said.

Senior Airman Agustin Tinajero, computer technician, 452nd Communications Squadron, seen here shredding hard drives during the Tech Refresh turn-in, Aug. 23. When computers are turned in, the hard drives are removed and shredded to a unsalvagable state and then scrapped. This process is done to ensure personally identifiable information, or PII, is not inadvertently released when the machines are turned over to DRMO and later sold to government liquidators.

Maj. Adolph Rodriguez, commander, 452d CS, expressed great interest in ensuring the Tech Refresh program is functioning as designed so that resupplying March Airmen with the most up-to-date technology is not delayed.

“Today, we are doing a mass turn-in of Tech Refresh equipment,” said Rodriquez. “Every two years, the government allows us to purchase about 2,000 assets, valued at approximately $1.5 million.  The computers we purchase have a finite life-span and once expired, become a vulnerability to the March network…our network is only sanctioned to host specific pieces of active hardware at any given time…old equipment needs to be replaced with newer, safer equipment, for improved security measures.”

Capt James Studer, wing executive officer and Senior Airman Isis Ponce, administrator, 452d AMW, rallied their efforts to collect more than 100 computers from eight separate wing accounts.  “We picked up computers from Wing Safety, Staff Judge Advocate, Command Post and various other agencies around March that needed to be turned in for Tech Refresh.  We were on a search and collect mission to attain 100% accountability,” said Studer.

“We are responding to an AFRC tasker to make this happen and quick,” said Col. Samuel Mahaney, commander, 452d Air Mobility Wing. He further explained that his wing needs to complete this process so that his people can receive the most reliable and up-to-date hardware and software on the market in a timely manner.  People from all over the wing joined in to make sure the deadline is met. “We are hoping to be done by the end of the month…it looks like we are going to get there,” Mahaney said.

Lt. Col. Scipiaruth Kendall-Curtis, action officer, 452d AMW, conducted an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century survey, or AFSO21, on Tech Refresh turn-in procedures and was able to note areas of needed improvement to streamline procedures. The AFSO21 survey focused on how long each process took to accomplish, if corrections were needed and how to best go about correcting them.

“We uncovered a great lessons learned input from today’s activities,” said Curtis. “In the future, we will look to place two, full-time personnel as points of contact for the wing computer management program.  We would like to delegate responsibilities to people who are here from Monday to Friday…set bodies dedicated to the process and not splintered throughout the wing. Having a TR in this position elongated the turn-in process due to their one weekend per month work schedules.”

By day’s end, more than 98% of the equipment had been turned in and relieved from user inventories.  Meredith said in her own unique way, “No kidding…if you have old equipment, get it turned in and off your inventory.  While it is still in your possession, you are liable and could risk not receiving newer computers…once the warranty expires, it becomes a liability…you could be responsible for the loss of DOD personnel-hours, equipment and money.”

Scott Everett, alternate base equipment control officer, 452nd Communications Squadron arranges to have more than 1000 computers, parts and accessories packaged in tri-walls and shipped to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office site at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 23. The turn-in was part of the Tech Refresh process that replaces expired computer systems with updated models.




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