Federal personnel chief says he needs new lab to test iPAD, figure out 'how to be cool' 

With survey after survey showing public trust in government at unprecedented low levels, the federal civil service chief has a couple of strategies for fixing things - spend a bunch of tax dollars on an advertising campaign to improve the image of the bureaucracy and create an "innovation lab" so "we can be cool."

The lab would be used to test new products like Apple's iPAD to determine their usefulness to the federal workforce, said John Berry, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. His agency would work with the U.S. General Services Administration on the project.

Berry's agency is the federal government's human resources department for the career civil service, while GSA is the government's housekeeping agency, constructing new federal buildings, negotiating leases, buying office supplies, and maintaining and repairing federal facilities.

"We're going to figure out how to ... get it into the workplace faster, so we can be cooler, and offer the latest gadgets," Berry told Federal Times. "Because kids want them."

Apparently Berry wasn't asked why the government couldn't cut a deal with gadget makers like Apple to let feds use prototypes of new products before they are released to the retail markets.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, is asking Berry some basic questions about the advertising campaign. In an April 22 letter, Coburn asked Berry how much the campaign will cost, what accounts OPM will use to pay for it, what specific outcomes are to be sought and how they will be measured, how the campaign will be implemented, and why it is necessary.

Go here for the complete Coburn letter to Berry. You can read the entire Federal Times article here.   

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