Tuesday, March 14, 2006

DC Wastes Thousands on Gadgets

The Washington Times reports on more questionable spending in DC. The top criticism centers around BlackBerry technology:

The D.C. Department of Mental Health in fiscal 2005 spent more than $30,000 on hand-held BlackBerry technology, prompting criticism from a D.C. Council member who says the money could have been put to better use.

"I understand everybody likes these gadgets," said D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent and chairman of the council's Committee on Health, which oversees the mental health department.

"I wouldn't buy myself a BlackBerry," he said of the wireless e-mail devices.


Linda Grant, a department spokeswoman, said Friday that mental health officials need the wireless technology because they are on call around-the-clock.

How did people ever handle being "on call" before the Blackberry? Providing a worker with a Blackberry for that purpose is beyond overkill.

Cell-phone use also figured prominently in the department's outsourcing for fiscal 2005, city records show.

The department paid Verizon $150,000 for cell-phone service. It also paid $36,000 for long-distance phone service, records show.

"Who are we calling?" Mr. Catania asked at the oversight hearing. "This is a waste."

He should also ask what they need cell phones for if they have Blackberries. What's next, free iPods?

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