A key feature of the order (see Section 2(d)), and one that should not be overlooked, is the requirement that Federal agencies keep track of the computer equipment transferred and report this to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The efficacy of the order can be evaluated accurately only if data are available from each participating Federal agency regarding the type of equipment transferred, the quantities involved, and the recipients.
This pamphlet provides a brief guide to implementing the Executive Order and includes the names of people to contact for further information. The complete text of the Executive Order is printed under this flap.
The order designates computers and peripheral equipment "a vital national resource" and calls upon agencies to "...protect and safeguard such equipment, particularly when declared excess or surplus, so that it may be recycled and transferred..." (Section 1 (a)). Federal agencies should:
HOW DOES THE ORDER RELATE TO THE EXISTING UTILIZATION AND DONATION PROGRAMS FOR FEDERAL PERSONAL PROPERTY?
Executive Order 12999 does not change or override the requirement of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended (the Property Act) for internal screening. Therefore, like other Government-owned property, computer equipment must first be offered to other activities within an agency before being determined excess to that agency. Once declared excess, computer equipment can be transferred directly to schools.
When an agency has determined that its excess computer equipment is not needed by either a school or another eligible recipient under the order, the equipment should be reported to GSA. The property is then available to the State Agencies for Surplus Property through the surplus property donation program. It should be noted that, at this point, schools can't be given preferential consideration by law because the Property Act requires donation to eligible recipients by fair and equitable means.
WHAT SHOULD AN AGENCY INCLUDE IN THE PLAN IT SUBMITS TO THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY (OSTP)?
The order requires agencies to submit an implementation plan to OSTP by mid-October. OSTP expects the plan to highlight agency initiatives and activities designed to meet the objectives of the order, particularly in the areas of computer transfers and employee volunteer efforts (Section 3). The plan could also include a description of the steps for accessing schools, the criteria for targeting schools by need, the means for identifying and tracking excess computers available for transfer, and the specific information to be reported to GSA. The plan submitted to OSTP need not be lengthy, but should be informative.
EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT SHOULD AGENCIES TRANSFER TO SCHOOLS?
The order defines "educationally useful Federal equipment" as computers and related peripheral tools such as printers, modems, routers, and servers. This includes telecommunications equipment and research equipment as well. Computer software also is included where the transfer of licenses is permitted (Section 4(c)). Agencies need to check with each software vendor or licenser about permission to transfer specific software.
HOW CAN MY AGENCY PROVIDE EXCESS COMPUTERS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS?
Your personal property manager, working with information technology staff in your agency and others, may arrange for computers to be transferred directly to schools in accordance with your agency policy. The authority for such direct transfers is found in the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, as amended (15 U.S.C. 3710(i)).
WHAT IF THE COMPUTER EQUIPMENT NEEDS REPAIR OR UPGRADING?
The order encourages the use of computer recycling to repair and upgrade computers before they are transferred to schools and other eligible recipients. Some recyclers refurbish computers themselves; others teach students how to refurbish them for use in their own school districts. Many recyclers can also assist with teacher training, mentoring, and computer maintenance.
Federal Executive Boards may be able to help identify computer recyclers in their regions because they have been provided with a preliminary list of recycling organizations. In addition, Federal employees, particularly those in scientific fields, are frequently active in community computer organizations such as the newly founded Tech Corps. They can be very useful in identifying appropriate assistance.
HOW CAN AGENCIES DETERMINE WHICH SCHOOLS NEED COMPUTERS?
Agencies will need to develop their own plans for identifying interested schools because there is not a national, centralized clearinghouse to help with this process. These plans should include methods for identifying potential recipients and criteria for ranking need. Agencies should also encourage their regional organizations to take the lead in responding to the order so that schools across the country are considered by some Federal organization somewhere.
One method found to be effective by some agencies for knowing the needs of particular schools is to establish partnership arrangements with schools. Agencies have contacted their local school districts to find local school partners for which they provide a variety of services that may include tutoring and installation and repair of equipment as well the transfer of computers and related equipment.
Agencies are particularly urged to create partnerships with empowerment zone and enterprise community schools. For more information on empowerment zone and enterprise community schools, see the contacts under "For Additional Information."
Another avenue that allows agencies to get computers to schools-and perhaps reduces the burden on the agency-is GSA's donation program. Although the donation program does not facilitate the direct transfer of computer equipment to schools, it does provide a mechanism by which schools can obtain computers through a system designed to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of Federal surplus property.
WHAT IS THE POLICY REGARDING FEDERAL EMPLOYEES VOLUNTEERING IN SCHOOLS?
Departments and agencies are encouraged to consult with unions and other appropriate employee organizations to develop means by which employees may volunteer their time in support of the order.
The Federal personnel system provides considerable flexibility in scheduling leave and hours of work. Within mission constraints, agencies are encouraged to make use of these flexibilities to grant leave or approve Alternative Work Schedules so that employees may volunteer their time as provide in Section 3 of the order.
In certain circumstances, departments and agencies may use their authority to grant excused absences (administrative leave) for this purpose. Note, however, that an employee is not a "volunteer" if he or she is on salary while performing these services. Nevertheless, employees may be granted brief periods of excused absence when such functions are determined to be: (1) directly related to the agency's mission, (2) officially sponsored or sanctioned by the head of the agency, or (3) beneficial to the professional development or skills of the employee in his or her current position. Questions on these and related matters should be directed to the appropriate servicing personnel office.
HOW SHOULD MY AGENCY ACCOUNT FOR COMPUTERS THAT HAVE BEEN TRANSFERRED TO SCHOOLS?
Your agency's personal property managers should maintain records in accordance with internal agency procedures and should include computers transferred to schools in the annual report to GSA of personal property transferred to non-Federal recipients.
As a starting point, agencies are required by Section 5402 of the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 to conduct a one-time inventory of computer equipment. When complete, this inventory then provides a database from which to identify equipment that is excess and available for transfer. Agencies need to integrate their processes for inventorying, transferring, and reporting excess computer equipment to minimize duplication of effort.
The importance of maintaining accurate records of equipment transferred to schools was described earlier, but bears repeating here. The order requires that Federal agencies keep track of their transfers and report them to GSA (Section 2(d)). The efficacy of the order can be evaluated accurately only if data are available from each participating Federal agency regarding the type of equipment transferred, the quantities involved, and who received it.
Dr. Aram Kailian
Special Assistant, Public Buildings Service
U.S. General Services Administration
18th & F. St. NW
Washington, DC 20405
Web Site Address: http://www.hud.gov/ezec/ezec.html