Where old monitors go

Computer monitors, like obsolete televisions, tend to outlast their usefulness. Once-acceptable 15-inch SVGA monitors just won't cut it with today's graphically oriented software. What should agencies do with old equipment? It is not only environmentally irresponsible to send them to landfills; that option usually costs money.

"We tend to try to cascade those to other users who don't have the same requirements," said Mac Oxford, vice president of seat management services at Litton/PRC Inc., GSA's Seat Management contractor.

In the early 1990s, when the Army was downsizing, machines that were no longer needed were sent to supply depots, said Tom Leahy, acting chief of the Army's Small Computer Program. Now, the contractor is preparing to take back old equipment when the Army buys replacements, he said. "One vendor is working on a turn-in deal where you can get a rebate," Leahy said. "You'll get credit for the old equipment. Then the equipment is donated to charity."

An option for federal agencies that don't have internal pass-along programs is to contribute the equipment to the Computers for Learning program, which distributes it schools.

Most of the systems being donated to Computers for Learning are 486s and first-generation Pentiums, according to Coral Childs, a program analyst at Computers for Learning. Those machines were commonly used with 14-inch displays, which aren't in demand by federal users anymore but can still display educational programs. Last year alone, the group recycled about 350,000 pieces of equipment of all kinds, worth about $450 million, Childs said.

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