Friday, June 04, 2004

From the Al Jazeera Constitution (registration required):

>More unused electronics found
>Atlanta schools' tally on idle computer gear at $4.5 million
>Ken Foskett and Paul Donsky - Staff
>Friday, June 4, 2004
>Atlanta Public Schools' stockpile of unused computer electronics totals at least $4.5
>million --- about $1.1 million more than previously known.
>The revised total includes mothballed equipment that APS officials did not show the
>Journal-Constitution in an earlier tour of storage facilities.
>School officials said the equipment was moved to the district's data center last week,
>several days after the newspaper reported that APS had warehoused millions of dollars
>worth of computer gear purchased under a national program to provide Internet access to
>poor schoolchildren.
>Officials this week released an inventory of the previously undisclosed equipment. An
>examination of invoices for similar components shows that Atlanta paid at least $1.13
>million for the gear.
>The equipment, purchased by APS under the national E-rate program, included more than 25
>sets of sophisticated switching devices used to route Internet traffic through
>cyberspace. Atlanta purchased that type of switch in 1999 but replaced it with more
>sophisticated components during the next two years.
>This week, school custodians retrieved the shipping cartons for the equipment from an APS
>trash bin after the Journal-Constitution questioned why the boxes were being thrown away.
>Shipping labels on the boxes generally indicate the date of purchase and the school the
>equipment was intended for.
>''Just in case anyone wants to look at them, we have retrieved them and saved them," said
>Richard Horton, APS technology director.
>The newspaper's investigation found that Atlanta bought more equipment than it needed,
>routinely overpaid for goods and services and could not account for some equipment on
>funding requests.
>A congressional committee investigating waste in the E-rate program plans to call
>officials from Atlanta and other school systems to testify. Last week, Atlanta's request
>for $20 million in E-rate money for the next school year was put on hold pending results
>of an APS investigation into E-rate spending.
>Auditors scrutinizing E-rate spending elsewhere have found millions of dollars in
>stockpiled equipment sitting in warehouses, including $23 million in components in Puerto
>Rico and more than $8 million in Chicago.
>The Journal-Constitution previously had found at least $3.4 million worth of equipment in
>storage in Atlanta, much of it resting haphazardly on bare cement floors or stacked in
>In response to the article, APS divided equipment purchased with E-rate money into two
>rooms: one full of equipment that may yet be installed in schools and another with older,
>obsolete gear.
>The newer equipment includes 31 switching devices manufactured by Cisco Systems, each
>costing as much as $100,000, neatly stacked against a wall. The switches are among
>Cisco's most sophisticated networking hardware. With modifications, a single switch is
>powerful enough to run a small school district's network.
>Seven of the switches were in unopened cartons with labels showing shipping dates between
>May 2000 and September 2001. E-rate ruless require school districts to install equipment
>in the year it is purchased and in the school for which it was approved.
>Officials still don't know how to dispose of the older equipment. The older switching
>devices cost about $65,000 each five years ago, but it is unclear how much they might be
>worth now. Three years ago, APS traded in similar components for credits of $7,500 to
>$30,000 per device against the purchase of newer equipment.
>E-rate pays up to 90 percent of equipment costs needed to bring Internet access to
>classrooms and libraries. The program is financed by a monthly fee collected from
>telephone customers.

When I moved to the Atlanta Metro Area, I decided that not living in the city of Atlanta was more a moral than an economic choice. I am proved right on a regular basis. Who in their right mind would encourage this lot by paying taxes to them?

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