[Beowulf] Roadrunner shutdown

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Apr 3 09:00:12 PDT 2013

There's a fairly complex process for getting rid of stuff from a federal government lab..

1) It is next to impossible for an employee at the lab to get "surplus" gear.  The possibility of someone "declaring as scrap", then "buying scrap at a discount" puts paid to that.  
2) Once you've declared something surplus, you have to categorize its condition (e.g. functional, needs repair, beyond economic repair, etc.).
3) Then, it gets put on a federal government wide "excess assets" list, and theoretically, someone else can pick it up at another government agency (so, for instance, DoE doesn't need Roadrunner, but maybe Department of Agriculture wants it, perhaps to grind up and use it as road aggregate for erosion control<grin>)
4) If there aren't any takers, then you can start to either sell at auction (and this all goes through a limited number of places.. again, to avoid "selling to your friend down the street") OR if an educational institution wants it, they can "Stevenson-Wydler" it.  I've disposed of some interesting stuff by the latter means.  It's also how government used to give away old PCs to schools (these days, schools do not want pallet loads of 10 year old PCs, and the government doesn't actually own all that many PCs these days anyway.. they lease them on 2-3 year leases with a support contract)

The government could also make a deal to sell it without going through a lot of this, but there would need to be independent appraisals of value and so forth (otherwise we're back to the sell million dollar computer to friend for $1000 problem).  And, because the government doesn't depreciate equipment (i.e. they basically use cash basis accounting), the book value is the purchase price, which is where the appraisal process will start. (Yes, lots of folks who work for the government labs has had the unique experience of having somebody hound you to find that lost piece of specialized equipment that was purchased back in 1975 for $100,000, and is now practically worthless, but in the database it still shows "acquisition cost: $100k".   I have been hounded for equipment that was launched into space.. Someone saw the shipper bringing it on lab, it has an asset number, but there was no shipper sending it off lab (since it was integrated into a larger assembly), so "it must be here somewhere".

Jim Lux

-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of lukshuntim at gmail.com
Sent: Monday, April 01, 2013 7:43 AM
To: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Roadrunner shutdown

On Monday, April 01, 2013 06:45 PM, John Hearns wrote:
> I now we have all seen this through different sources.
> However interesting as this is a main stream news item, and it is 
> pretty balanced.
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21993132

News on April 1st ...

Is it really going to be just taken apart? Why not put it to good use somewhere else. I don't mind to owning one. :-)


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