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?

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