Time stands still as torpid U.S. federal bureaucracy remains saddled with antiquated BlackBerry

“Outside Washington, the world is moving at warp speed away from the BlackBerry. At its maker, profits are declining and executives are leaving, and the BlackBerry has even conceded its perch as the top smartphone in its native Canada,” Cecilia Kang reports for The Washington Post.

“Inside the Beltway, time stands still,” Kang reports. “A half million federal workers — President Obama and his staff among them — are still thumbing little black keyboards on little black devices. And that number hasn’t dipped over the past few years while Research in Motion, BlackBerry’s maker, has recorded plummeting sales everywhere else.”

Kang reports, “The slow-moving federal bureaucracy is keeping the BlackBerry around. But RIM’s intensifying troubles and thriving rivals are confronting Washington with a question: Should it break its ‘crackberry” addiction?’ Some agencies are already loosening their policies to let their workers choose other smartphones. Lawmakers and aides can now bring iPhones into the halls of Congress. But, for the most part, the federal government hasn’t joined the smartphone revolution.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Lynn Weiler,” and “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]


  1. So, US burocracy wants apple to fix US economy problems but they still supporting much inferior foreign companies? Come on you idiots, every body is to blame but not you?

    1. Marty, there’s a major difference between one’s next-door neighbor and someone from the other side of the world that doesn’t even think like you and me. I, for one, regard it as a terrible pity that the terrorists have convinced the powers-that-be that free passage over the US/Canada border should no longer be permitted; it’s like family being separated from each other. Don’t call Canadians foreign. They’re not.

  2. when was ‘efficiency’ ever a needed requirement for success in Washington?

    this is actually a wonderful illustration, the dudes and dudedettes who claim to be LEADING America are actually way BEHIND everybody else. Kinda of scary huh?

    1. No wonder stuff NEVER get’s done, and every bill that’s passed resembles a piece of windows bloatware. (with all the little add on tidbits so everyone can get their personal cut)

      1. Yeah, why is that okay? Just look at the antiquated air traffic control system. AWACS still uses 35 year old hardware to keep us safe from missile attacks.

        Heck the White House bowling alley still uses a vintage 1959 AMF pin setting machine.

        1. The bowling alley in the white house hasn’t been used in 3 years. Did you not hear?

          Government is way behind on tech, that’s for sure. iPads etc have been found in Washington though, and they will grow.
          Part of the problem is lifetime politicians and longtime traditions that they think can’t be updated.

          The younger washington gets, elected officials, the more that will change.

      2. Seriously, changing a communications technology infrastructure AND supporting administration/security/integration within a secure federal government space isn’t the same as asking your family to switch phones. Quit with the myopic view and think like an adult. Do you really think you can just walk up to the US CIO and tell him that you can just overnight dump the Blackberry phones and go with an iPhone? Where’s your whitepaper? Where’s your independent report that shows the Return On Investment? Where’s your CBO report that shows that the American taxpayer will save money? Where’s your RFP that shows who will be contracted to administer, secure, and integrate the iPhones into the federal communications network AND train thousands of staff to “just switch?”

        1. You are ascribing too much power to a monolithic Fed bureaucracy that doesn’t really exist. The decision to allow/encourage these moves is at the agency CIO level or below. With the exception of some sensitive govt/wide comm for senior executives, what happens at, for instance, Navy is unaffected by what happens at DHS, FAA, FDA, etc. BUT, the CIOs talk, and they are very, very interested in saving money. Some of your proposed actions sound like “staffing actions,” building (Pentagon) speak for “delays.” Plus, having a BB is becoming a lot like having a beeper — in other words, kinda, sorta, laughable in the eyes of techno savvy (not necessarily techie) users.

  3. Interesting that the US gov would allow communications to be funneled through another country. Especially considering the Canadian government can access all telecommunications data without warrants, probable cause, and as freely as they wish.

    1. @M, this was a potential law that our Regressive Conservative government wanted to pass. They stated that it was to help make it easier to capture criminals like child pornographers. They have since backed off due to the public outcry.

      Please try to be a little more informed before commenting.

  4. When I left a major branch of the Treasury in 2008 they were still very much a Windows/Blackberry shop. Procurements for Macs were routinely rejected (never mind iPhones). Oracle on Sun was being phased out in favor of .Net on Windows servers, and Internet Explorer was the only approved browser on Windows platforms. So the fact that Blackberry still rules among the Feds hardly surprises me.

    1. Sounds very similar to my IT’s dept’s operation. Whores to whatever Microsoft sells until it is no longer affordable and by then, everything is broken. Same with BB.

      When will they learn?

    2. Same as in the Canadian Government. IT people control everything you put on your PC. Fortunately my research organization is a Crown Corporation and not an actual Ministry. Translated that means we can use a Mac BUT our IT people will not support you.
      Big deal, we all operate better without them than with them. If one of us is stumped (e.g. connecting to an exchange server), others help. Mac users stick together….really pisses off IT 🙂

  5. IT people are generally control freaks. Government IT people are super control freaks. The BB gives them much greater control. They will not secede control easily. The past 200 years of history has been on of the continual centralization of power in the federal government. Thus, abandoning the BB in favor of other less, controlled platforms is running against the currents of history and human nature. “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  6. Actually, many areas within Federal govt (DoD and other) are shedding BB as fast as possible through “stealth” purchases (aka pilot programs) in order to avoid the standard BB bias. BB Exchange is generally understood to cost about $2200/head/year on top of monthly charges for Feds. Agency CIO level personnel know this and are actually making changes to move to iPhone (and Android to lesser extent). Result is that RIM is discounting like crazy to try and keep business. And yep, I’m an insider , and I’m encouraging this change.

  7. If the government kept all it’s IT up to date, how would that impact the federal budget? There are probably a few less visionary taxpayers who would complain about the extravagant, idiotic bureaucrats in Washington

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