U.S. State Department pays $6,600 each for Amazon Kindles that retail for $189

“The State Department awarded a $16.5 million contract to Amazon to stock designated libraries and U.S.-friendly educational centers around the world with 2,500 Kindle e-Readers, procurement databases show,” Dawn Lim reports for Nextgov. “The contract includes 50 titles, a secure central management system and round-the-clock help desk services.”

“Kindles were seen as the only appropriate devices for this contract, which was not opened for competitive bidding,” Lim reports. “The devices will aid those seeking to study English and learn about America.”

“Competing devices such as the Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader Daily and Kobe e-Reader were unsuitable as they couldn’t offer the same the text-to-speech function, battery life and global Wi-Fi connectivity, according to a government document,” Lim reports. “The Apple iPads offered unnecessary functions that presented ‘unacceptable security and usability risks for the government’s needs in this particular project,’ the documents said. iPads also fell short on battery life requirements and would not allow the State Department the same control over the dissemination of content, the notice added.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Attribution: Heritage.org. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “HotinPlaya” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Okay, who’s surprised?

iOS 6’s “single app mode” on iPad 2’s would save the State Department beaucoup dollars, wouldn’t it?


  1. “The Apple iPads offered unnecessary functions”

    Flexibility for future needs?!?!?!?
    Can’t have THAT in a government procurement. Before you know it, people might start having independent thoughts.

    1. Those hammers were made of platinum, to avoid blowing up multi-million dollar fighters with a spark.

      The “toilet seats” were actually toilet covers for the B-1 bomber, as replacements when the initial order of replacement parts ran out. they had to be redesigned to avoid a breakage problem, hence the increased price – plus, there were only 50 bombers, reduced from the initial order of 100.

      Costs go up when that happens.

        1. You don’t understand the costs of designing, fabricating, or procuring limited run items, do you? You don’t understand the complexity of a government procurement system that has evolved to promote competitive acquisitions and protect against corruption.

          Do the results alway sound good or make sense? Certainly not. There is definitely plenty of room for improvement. But this ignorant yammering about toilet seats and hammers actually detracts from a more constructive discussion about how to streamline government and achieve better cost efficiencies. The government is not the enemy. Your local, state, and federal governments and U.S. military are staffed by Americans, the vast majority of whom are attempting to do the best job possible. When you ignorantly disparage them, you are doing a disservice to your country.

  2. . . . and another thing
    Why are we paying for “round-the-clock help desk services” for libraries when they are only open 3 days a week?

      1. Of course. You get asked if you want curried lamb with every help request in the crispest clipped English possible.

        As for the 24 hour bit, I’m sure that’s because some of these are being distributed to US-friendly educational centers (of which there are only four such places), which are located in Thule, Greenland; Victoria, Seychelles; some isolated outpost in Kakastan; and in Singapore.

  3. So far I haven’t seen any credible source for this story, just a few unknown blogs. I haven’t wseen any national news agency that I respect providing any ansers or analysis of the story.

    The source the articlewas linked to was not the State Department or US Government procurement.

    So at the moment I am skeptical.

          1. The State Department is run by the Democrats… And I want to know how much the corporate head of Amazon is donating to our president’s re-election!

            Sort of reminds me of the Solyndra and other major donors industrial exploits…

    1. I want to believe your voice of reason. Others will jump like fleas at the slightest suggestion that their favorite whipping boy is once against at fault.

    2. Yeah the Heritage Foundation blog isn’t necessarily going to give you the most level-headed, balanced fact reporting.

      Looking at the contract, it’s not just for a bunch of off-the-shelf Kindles, but involves ongoing worldwide support and maintenance. Not that this justifies $6600 each, by any means. But when have taxpayers ever gotten a a good deal from no-bid contracts?

  4. CNET has a more accurate assessment than MDN’s neo-Limbaugh spin:

    “To start, however, the government would only guarantee one year with a minimum of 2,500 units plus content and shipping at no more than $2.29 million, which would cost in the ballpark of $163 per e-reader, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press aide Philippe Reines.”

    1. “according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press aide Philippe Reines”… Hmmm… I’ll take MDN’s neo-Limbaugh spin then this lackey of Hillary (vast right wing conspiracy, I was named after Mt. Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary who wasn’t renowned for his exploits and became famous to the rest of the world some 5 years after I was born, oh and I dodged bullets in Bosnia) Clinton…

      1. @ Now, Now: Wonderful.

        The big problem I have with Edmund Hillary is that his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, was actually the first to surmount Mt. Everest. Had to so he could pull tired old Sir Eddie up that last few feet. Talk about conspiracies…

    2. Quotation marks have meaning.

      What they mean is that the report is from Nextgov’s Dawn Lim, not MDN.

      If you’re going to start criticizing things, at least get your target correct, you aimless, confused occupier.

  5. Government pisses away money faster than they can print it. Why? – – – – It’s not their money. They have the power. We’re doomed. Just relax and be happy – because you can’t do anything about it. Vote them out – and another bunch will slither into place.

    1. Tyranny and despotism never taken a vacation. The same can’t be said for the people of this nation. A complete lack of education and involvement/exercise in civics has brought on the demise of this once great nation. Many will blame the politicians. The real blame lies with the people, who allowed it.

  6. Stupidity and wasteful spending: it’s patriotic! Look at it this way: It’s small potatoes compared to the many billions of dollars we’re going to pay out for the TSA on our way to national bankruptcy.

  7. Single App Mode, the government contract, and this announcement are not coincidental.

    I am not a conspiracy theorist, but this is too close. I suspect something is up.

    1. “The contract includes 50 titles, a secure central management system and round-the-clock help desk services.”

      The services are the key to the cost. You can’t just take a contract for hardware and related services, divide the total cost by the number of pieces of hardware and have an accurate picture of the contract. The included hardware cost was a below retail $163 per device. 163 X 2500 = $407,500.

      The rest of the cost is the titles (50 x 2500) and the services related to keeping all the devices in the correct configuration for several years. Unless I screwed up the math, that would be about $16M, but the number of years is unstated. Using the CNET-sourced $2.3M for the first year, that would be about $1.8M for the services and 24/7 support. 365 X 24 = 8760. That would be a fully-burdened billing rate of about $200/hour. Depending on security clearances and other factors, not totally unrealistic. Look at how much the State Department pays the murderous, unaccountable Blackwater security guards, vs the cost of US Marines doing the same job.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.