U.S. House passes Spanberger’s bill to provide refurbished

The U.S. House of Representatives recently unanimously passed U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan bill that would help provide surplus computers to nonprofit computer refurbishers — who would then repair and distribute the federal computers to veterans and others in need.

Spanberger’s bipartisan Computers for Veterans and Students Act would allow certified, nonprofit refurbishing organizations to directly obtain, refurbish, and distribute repairable, surplus government computers to serve veterans, students, and seniors in need of a device. The legislation, which was co-led by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st District) and Elaine Luria (D-2nd District), also would require each nonprofit computer refurbisher receiving computers to provide training programs in the use of this technology.

Officials from locally based Tech For Troops, a nonprofit that has been refurbishing technology for veterans for years, said they were excited about the development. Tech for Troops recycled and refurbished more than 112,000 pounds of equipment in 2021 alone, according to a report from S&P Global.

“The number of disabled and homeless Veterans in America that do not have access to a computer is simply staggering. If the COVS act is passed into law it will allow Tech For Troops to help thousands of veterans and their families across the country every year,” said Mark Casper, director of Tech For Troops. “We are grateful for the hard work and support that Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Rep. Wittman, and Rep. Luria have presented over the last four years while also being excited at the ability to improve the lives of so many more veterans.”

The bill next will advance to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

“More jobs and hiring processes are moving online. But for the millions of U.S. households without a computer, this transition means access to fewer opportunities and even more difficulties in getting ahead,” said Spanberger. “As veterans transition to the civilian workforce and look for new opportunities, a computer can be the difference between landing the job or remaining on the hunt. Not only would my bipartisan bill give back to those who gave so much to our country, but it would make sure we are focused on cutting government waste, tackling veteran homelessness, and bringing more Americans into our workforce.”

In 1949, Congress created the Federal Surplus Personal Property Program through the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act. The program transfers nonessential federal property from the federal government to authorized state agencies for surplus property, which then serve local units of government, businesses, nonprofits, and other eligible recipients.

But not all of this property — including computers and other technology equipment — is immediately usable, and the federal government does not currently have the authority to transfer this repairable equipment to third-party computer refurbishers. This restriction has resulted in waste and inefficiency, according as many recipients lack the funds or capacity to refurbish computers they receive through this program.

Her bill was most recently introduced in May 2021, and it was first introduced in July 2020.

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