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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI saves millions on property
Uncle Sam no longer wants
South Kingstown's Ed Stone is University's top shopper

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 9, 2000 -- He doesn't come down chimneys once a year. Instead, Malcolm "Ed" Stone of South Kingstown, the University of Rhode Island screening officer, jumps into his 1988 federal surplus mini-van and travels from Maine to Virginia, trying to save the University (and Rhode Island taxpayers) money year-round.

He is very good at his job. If you check URI's Research Office latest yearly report "Federal Excess/Surplus Property" dated July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999, you'll discover the jolly but slender screening officer helped save the University nearly $1.4-million. A sampling of his free "purchases" include:

2 saxophones for the Music Department valued at $3,250

5 microscopes for the Clinical Laboratory Science Program-- $5,582

1 box of respirator masks for Plant Science Department -- $134

1 grove crane for the Ocean Engineering -- $60,000

4 office chairs for the Chemistry Department -- $600

Misc. lab computer equipment for the Physics Department -- $257,607

And that's just last year. Over the past decade, URI has received more than $13-million in government property at no cost to the university, save the transportation to bring it to campus, thanks to the affable screening officer.

"I sometimes feel like Santa Claus," says the URI Property Office employee who celebrates his 41st year with URI this month. With a sharp eye, a good memory, and years of flea market excursions notched on his belt, Stone can quickly size up property stowed in warehouses, scrap yards, or docks.

He travels with "wish lists" generated by faculty, administrators, and staff located at all four of URI's campuses. Current requests are as varied as an air compressor and a 15-slot mailbox. His latest coup is a $90,000 Trojan bucket loader, $25,000 Ford tractor and a $2,000 Clark forklift all in perfect condition.

URI formally created its Excess/Surplus Program in 1991 to secure badly needed materials and equipment as the pool of federal research dollars was shrinking. Congressional law mandates that all federal agencies and military bases disposing of unneeded items must first make them available for "reutilization." As one of the nation's research and Cooperative Extension universities, URI is in a category that gets first dibs.

Excess property and surplus property are as different as apples and oranges. Excess property is scarcer, more valuable and in demand. Excess property requires justification (a grant), quick deployment, and careful record keeping. The federal government, most frequently the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture technically retains title to the property while the University becomes its caretaker. The CT-1, a 75 ton research vessel, used by URI's Ocean Engineering Department is an example. Stone has had to pass up some enviable "bargains" because of their costly maintenance to URI.

Surplus property, on the other hand, has no stipulations. "You have to be able to size up the condition, know where the item could be used (the University doesn't have storage space), and a cell phone to make a quick campus contact," says Stone. "It's also a matter of being at the right place at the right time."

Stone often travels with his "understudy," Joe Luciano III, who will coordinate all excess property. Stone sometimes takes an expert along. For example, when the FBI was getting rid of computers, Stone took of Steven Gesaualdo, electronic digital technician, of URI's Chemistry Dept. along to see if they would be valuable to URI. They were.

Stone credits his success with good working relationships on campus and off, particularly with Sharon Barlett of Defense, Reutilization and Marketing Service in Portsmouth, N.H., Karen Underwood, property disposal officer in Groton, Conn., and Robert Pesaturo of Rhode Island Surplus Property.

"Ed Stone has given back a whole lot to the URI community," says his boss, Bill Matteson of URI's Property and Inventory Office. "His energy and "can do" attitude have made a significant difference for many."

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For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116

 

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