Dept of Human Services to supply 800 laptops to WorkVentures

The Department of Human Services (DHS) will supply 800 of its discarded laptops to not-for-profit organisation, WorkVentures.

The organisation, which provides people with access to technology and training to improve their employment prospects, has already received the first batch of laptops to pilot their processes. The remainder of the laptops are expected to be delivered within the next two months.

WorkVentures’s Connect IT program, which began in 2002, will be responsible for refurbishing the donated laptops, which involves data wiping, cleaning, testing for hardware faults and replacement of capacitors or other problems.

Scott Millington, WorkVentures head of Connect IT, told Computerworld Australia that the wiping of data is critical, as the organisation deals with other groups, such as Westpac and property group Stockland, which have sensitive information stored in their discarded computers and laptops.

“I think [security is] possibly the number one issue for every organisation we deal with because privacy of data is paramount for every organisation and every individual,” he said.

“So we have to remove any identifications for the organisations we deal with [such as asset tags].”

Once the computers and laptops have been refurbished, the devices are loaded with Microsoft software, such as Office Basic 2007 and Security Essentials, before undergoing more extensive testing.

Upon passing the testing phase, the computers and laptops will be sold at a low cost #8212; $299 and $319 respectively, which also includes free delivery, warranty and support #8212; to Centrelink concession card holders, low-income families, schools and not-for-profit organisations.

Since the program’s inception, about 35,000 refurbished computers and laptops have been distributed, which is expected to hit 40,000 in June. Millington said 6500 computers were distributed in 2011 alone.

However, he added that supply, particularly laptops, has been the biggest constraint to Connect IT.

“What happens from time to time though is that we can’t get enough donations, so we have to go into the market and buy either second-hand PCs or second-hand monitors,” Millington said.

“So what we found at the start of last year is that we actually had to buy more than a 1000 computers for the program and 2000 monitors, but then as donations picked up in the second half we didn’t have to buy any. It depends on the timing and the demand of supply from our donors.”

Millington also hinted at possible partnerships with other government departments in future.

“One of the big things from this partnership with the Department of Human Services is the way the agreement has been set up is that it’s open to other commonwealth government departments,” he said.

“So from our perspective, we’re hoping to be able to build on this existing relationship we have with the Department of Human Services to create similar relationships with other government departments.”

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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