Savings?: Officials should examine program’s results

An initiative by the West Virginia Department of Education to repair old computers and other electronic devices instead of selling them at auction sounds like a wonderful idea. The concept of recycling and reusing has built-in appeal.

But is it saving taxpayers money?

When state government wears out many types of equipment or simply has no immediate use for them, it auctions them off to the highest bidders. Anything from old filing cabinets to high-mileage cars can be found in those sales.

But some of the equipment still has life left in it. So, about three years ago, the education agency established an initiative called SecondLaunchWV. It takes used computers, monitors, etc., and refurbishes them. The devices then go to public institutions such as schools and libraries.

More than 14,000 pieces of electronic equipment valued at more than $5 million have been handled through the program. It has become popular enough to receive equipment donated by sources ranging from Toyota Motor Manufacturing to Mountaineer Gas.

It all sounds good — and it probably is.

Unfortunately, lots of government initiatives have SOUNDED good but their appeal was not backed up by the numbers.

Officials should therefore take a close look at SecondLaunchWV. If the determine it truly is a money-saver (and we hope it is), perhaps the concept should be expanded to other types of equipment handled by state government.