It’s easy to imagine that the leader of the free world gets all the best things for free, but that’s just not the case. During a recent joint interview, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle griped about how the White House Wi-Fi is so bad, some places get zero signal.
In an interview with Gayle King during CBS’s Super Bowl pregame show, the Commander-in-Chief explained his efforts in getting “the whole tech thing” working for the next President and their family.
“This is an old building, so there’s a lot of dead spots where the Wi-Fi doesn’t work,” President Obama said. Michelle chimed in by adding the couple’s daughters, Malia and Natasha Obama, are “irritated” by it.
This “tech thing” is more than a passing issue for Obama. In fact, it was one of the first indicators that presidency would be much different than he thought. During the Q&A portion of a 2011 fundraiser in Chicago, Obama said “I always thought I was going to have like real cool phones and stuff.” He quickly found out “when it comes to technology, we are like 30 years behind.”
At the time, Obama claimed the issue was true “across the board,” including at the Department of Homeland security and the Pentagon.
During the 2011 fundraiser, Obama attributes the federal government’s “horrible” information technology (IT) and purchasing as the reason. According to an October 2015 memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the White House racks up more than $50 billion in tech expenditures through tens of thousands of contracts. In the memo, the OMB directs federal agencies on, among other points, limiting the number of contracts to “best-in-class” companies. Those Macbooks may be coming in no time.
The First Family is working to make sure the next family to reside in the White House does not have to deal with the same frustrations the have. According to a January 2009 Washington Post profile of Obama’s first days in office, the White House had very few laptops, computers running “six-year-old versions of Microsoft software,” and security measures that prevented staffers from using outside email accounts.
Time for a standard four-year upgrade of the tech sort.