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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Sadly, I can believe this. And it’s not because the agency is stupid. It’s because they have to comply with a host of procurement laws passed by the good folks in DC. It defies common sense, but common sense has never been a strong suit of Congress. At the agency I work for, we have to go with a small business provider to contract out our IT needs and they charge a per month fee for a computer that is refreshed every three years. The first year’s fee is well over the cost of the machine at full retail. And the maintenance they provide is to install patches that come from M$ or Apple.

  6. This is the price Apple pays for having integrity, losing out on government contracts because they spent ten times less on lobbying than their competitors (this is true of google for sure, and I suspect amazon as well).

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