September 9, 2009 By News Report
Minneapolis will donate hundreds of used personal computers this year to poor or disabled Minnesota residents through a new arrangement between the city's outsourcing vendor and a local nonrofit group.
Unisys, which manages the city's IT infrastructure, will turn over used city government computers to St. Paul-based PCs for People, which refurbishes the machines and distributes them to Minnesota citizens. Unisys has donated 47 computers to PCs for People so far, according to the city.
City leaders said the arrangement will help ensure that residents have access to technology.
"We live in a digital age, but not everyone has access to computers and the Internet," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "We don't want to leave a single person behind when it comes to technology access and that's why Minneapolis, along with its partners Unisys and PCs for People, has worked hard to increase everyone's access to technology. That access can improve lives through increased education and access to essential information and services."
Minneapolis outsourced city government IT infrastructure to Unisys in 2003. In 2008, the company signed a new five-year contract to continue as the city's service provider worth $48 million.
PCs for People expects to distribute computers to 15,000 families over the next five years through PC donations from businesses, government and individuals, according to Andy Elofson, founder of the organization. To receive a computer from PCs for People, recipients must have income below 150 percent of the poverty level, have a disability or be enrolled in a government assistance program.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.