LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Worthy Idea, Worthy Cause

I recently read Allan Holmes' article, "Clinton to expand computer donations" [FCW, Feb. 19]. My impression is that it is a worthy idea supporting a worthy cause. Here's a reality check for you, though.

I am field manager for the Social Security Administration in upstate New York, with a staff of 24 hard-working employees. We provide daily service to an area population of approximately 150,000 residents, including more than 16,000 who receive Social Security and/or SSI checks each month.

To accomplish our mission, we rely on 24 dumb terminals, installed in 1988, that connect to the mainframes in Baltimore. The terminals have no local connectivity or word processing ability. My staff and I share five personal computers to prepare the more than 100 pieces of written correspondence we mail out daily. These five PCs are used to control our budget, financial transactions and many other actions. They include three 80286s of 1987 vintage, one 386 from 1990 and a 486DX2 acquired just last fall. We enjoy one laser printer but must often resort to several nine-pin, dot-matrix printers that also date back to 1987.

If agencies are looking for places to unload their "old computer equipment, such as 486s and laser printers," they do not have to go outside the federal service. Wouldn't that "make sure the taxpayer gets the best value"?

By the way, I've e-mailed this from my home because my office does not have access to the Internet.

Timothy Higgins

Via e-mail

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