State agencies in New Jersey looking to dump old computer equipment might soon find the task easier said than done.

A bill was introduced this month that outlines a series of steps officials must take in order to part with various government tech assets.

The legislation, AB 3980, would require state offices that are unable to redistribute computer equipment to declare it as surplus or obsolete, remove all data or render databases unrecoverable, and notify New Jersey’s Division of Purchase and Property about the item and the steps taken to destroy the data.

In addition, the bill — which is sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Scotch Plains, and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, D-Mercer — requires the director of the state’s Division of Purchase and Property to develop a program on the disposal of tech assets in the control of state entities.

The bill comes on the heels of a New Jersey’s Office of the State Comptroller audit that uncovered confidential and personal information on computers marked for public auction earlier this year.

Seventy-nine percent of those computers examined by the comptroller’s office still contained various forms of data and one-third of those contained personal information such as Social Security numbers, child abuse case files, personnel reviews and personal files of a state judge. The computers were located at New Jersey’s surplus property warehouse.

The issue has been seen in other states as well. A June 2008 report by the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit showed that 10 of 15 surplus computers sampled by auditors had recoverable data on them. One of the major reasons was a lack of policies regarding end-of-life computer equipment.

The New Jersey Assembly State Government Committee passed AB 3980 on a 5-0 vote on Monday, May 23, and is continuing to move it through the State Assembly. To keep track of the reaction action on the bill, visit the New Jersey Legislature website