The Bureau of Land Management spends between $20.8 million and $33.3 million on computers for its employees.
By replacing computers with Apple iPads, the bureau expects it would have to spend far less — between $8 million and $12 million, according to internal documents obtained by the website governmentattic.org. The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
It isn’t clear if the bureau’s current hardware costs are annual or over its five year technology refresh period, when it periodically replaces technology. Transitioning to the iPad would require “very little maintenance” over its lifespan, the bureau said.
Currently, the bureau has between 10,000 and 16,000 employees and each have on average 1.6 devices. An iPad would reduce the number of devices per employees because they wouldn’t need to travel with a second computer, the document said. “The same machine could be used on the desktop and as a mobile device” and reduce the number of devices by 6,400.
The bureau cited other benefits of using the iPad:
– It has a “monitor” and a USB interface.
– It is ideal for using during meets or in the field, and iPads could potentially reduce dependency on devices like thumb drives and air cards for Internet access.
– It could reduce the need for IT support staff, and the bureau could use Apple’s maintenance plan instead.
– It provides cell phone capabilities through certain applications and could replace the desktop phone.
But with those advantages come risks and concerns.
The iPads does not support PDF documents or Adobe Flash, and security concerns remain, the bureau said. (However, as some of our tech-savvy readers have noted, iPad users can open, read and store PDF documents).