“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.