The Australian Government today announced a partnership that will see its old computers refurbished and sold cheaply to Australian families.
As it conducts refreshes, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will provide its old laptops to not-for-profit organisation WorkVentures, which will then rework them to be sold to those who are in need.
"WorkVentures will sell the computers to Centrelink concession-card holders, low-income earners, schools and not-for-profit organisations," the minister for DHS, Senator Kim Carr, said in a statement.
The arrangement is starting with a lot of 800 computers, but is expected to be expanded to more devices in the future.
WorkVentures purchases the computers at a low price and sells them, with Microsoft Windows, Office and a laptop bag, for $319, including delivery. Considering shipping and work costs, it works out to be approximately cost neutral, according to the DHS.
In the past, there have been occasions when selling on government computers has put government data at risk, as data on the machines was not removed properly before the sale. The Western Australia auditor-general conducted a test in 2008, buying 19 second-hand PCs that looked to be ex-government. Of those, 10 were ex-government, and four had sensitive information still accessible on their hard drives. Three of the four hard drives had been formatted, with no attempts having been made to remove information from the fourth.
This isn't going to be a problem in this case, according to the government and WorkVentures. The DHS said that it has taken steps to delete data before providing the laptops to WorkVentures, and adding that it is also a contractual requirement for WorkVentures to make sure that the laptops are clean before passing them on.
WorkVentures CEO Arsenio Alegre said that his company has provided similar services for Westpac and other companies, and has never had a problem, adding that the company's methods comply with US Department of Defence (DoD) standards.
If the laptops are not suitable to sell on, WorkVentures will organise for them to be recycled. When doing that, WorkVentures will go as far as to destroy the hard drive, he said.