A story in Monday's Washington Post says that the administration is moving ahead rapidly to make major changes in technology. Author Michael S. Rosewald writes that today's government updates tech faster than at a Little House on the Prairie pace. He notes that even a huge BlackBerry fan like the President now owns an Apple iPad.
The federal government has been trading in its BlackBerry phones and replacing them with the Apple iPhone according to the Post story, and government workers are replacing boring strait laced tech items with flashy consumer products. Not only does this make for more productive government workers, it also allows the Feds to save money. For example, the GSA is currently moving 17,000 workers to Gmail which will save the government 50% over the next 5 years of running its own servers and updating software. The USDA will save $6 million by moving employees to Gmail.
The U.S. government had been using BlackBerry handsets because of the latter's secure email platform. But when it comes to third party software, Apple and Android offer many more choices than RIM. According to the Washington Post story, agency directors and senior officials are using Android handsets, Apple iPads and cloud based email services at home and are asking IT administrators why can't they use these same products at work. The use of these technologies in government workers personal life means that they have more access to information at home than at the office. Vivek Kundra, the federal government’s chief information officer quipped that, "If you look at the average school kid, he or she probably has better technology in his or her backpack than most of us do in government offices." He adds that when it comes to technology, the line between home and work is beginning to blur and that most workers despise corporate provided technology.
As the government's CIO, Kundra carries a BlackBerry for work and an Apple iPhone for personal use, although he wants to be a "one-device guy". That led to his idea to allow government workers to pick their own cell phone and/or tablet, use strict security settings and have the government pay for some of the cost of using the device. Currently, the ATF has 50 Apple iPhones or iPads in use and that number is expected to double soon. At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the number of BlackBerry phones being used by employees dropped from 1,000 to 700 as workers are now allowed to pick their own device. The Department of Veterans Affairs is about to allow its clinicians to pick an Apple iPhone or iPad instead of a BlackBerry. As you might expect, RIM's market share has been declining from 21% of the U.S. smartphone market in 2009 to 14% last year.
source: WashingtonPost via AppleInsider
President Obama carries an Apple iPad under his arm (L), while ATF chief Vanderplow connects an iPad to a television monitor