Obama, BUsh White House staffers in verbal duel over alleged technological constraints

January 23rd, 2009 - 2:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan.23 (ANI): Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials have run into what they call the technological Dark Ages, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.
“It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari,” the Washington Post quoted Obama spokesman Bill Burton, as saying of his new digs. In many ways, the move into the White House resembled a first day at school: Advisers wandered the halls, looking for their offices. Aides spent hours in orientation, learning such things as government ethics rules as well as how their paychecks will be delivered. And everyone filled out a seemingly endless pile of paperwork.
There were plenty of first-day glitches, too, as calls to many lines in the West Wing were met with a busy signal all morning and those to the main
White House switchboard were greeted by a recording, redirecting callers to the presidential Web site. A number of reporters were also shut out of the White House because of lost security clearance lists.
By late evening, the vaunted new White House Web site did not offer any updated posts about President Obama’’s busy first day on the job, which included an inaugural prayer service, an open house with the public, and meetings with his economic and national security teams. Nor did the site reflect the transparency Obama promised to deliver.
The site was updated for the first time last night, when information on the executive orders was added. But there were still no pool reports or blog entries. No one could quite explain the problem — but they swore it would be fixed.
Former Bush administration staffers disputed the tone of the Washington Post story published Thursday.
Fomer staffers said, the White House has everything a modern corporate office would Windows XP, BlackBerrys, Outlook e-mail, plenty of laptops and lots of flat screen monitors and TVs.
“It’’s a shame if they”re having problems moving in. We began to prepare for the transition well ahead of the election cycle. Our aim was to leave it in better shape than we found it,” said Theresa Payton, White House chief information officer from 2006 until this past November.
David Almacy, who ran the whitehouse.gov Web site and was the administration’’s Internet and e-communications director from 2005 to 2007, blames simple logistics and red tape for the Obama team’’s problems.
“Bureaucracy is non-partisan,” he said.
“Moving 3,000 people out and 3,000 people in is a Herculean task,” he added.
Spending on White House technology is nothing unusual.
According to Payton: We follow standard government procurement procedures,” she said. “First we see if it’’s in the budget, then we follow normal government procedures, bidding out for contracts.” (ANI)

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