The Hill, a daily congressional newspaper, is reporting that the iPhone might soon become a ubiquitous communication device for lawmakers in Washington.
“The Chief Administrative Office (CAO), which oversees the communications systems for the House, has begun testing a small number of iPhones within its ranks to see if they are compatible with the working needs of lawmakers and staff.”
The CAO will know by January 2009 if house members will have the option to use the iPhone. Currently, the phone of choice for our nation’s lawmakers is the BlackBerry, with “nearly 8,200 in active use”, but the CAO is investigating the possibility of making the iPhone a reality after a significant number of congressmen wanted the option.
Giving house members the option of using an iPhone won’t come without cost, however. For starters, the CAO will have to purchase new servers as current email is delivered via a BlackBerry Enterprise server. Also, if lawmakers choose to use an iPhone, should it become available, they will be forced to pay for it with funds from their Member’s Representational Allowance, an allotment that each house member gets for use in hiring staff, securing travel arrangements, payment of office rent, and other expenses like office supplies. Typical allotments vary from house member to member, but generally are in the range of $1 million and are supposed to be used to “support the conduct of the official and representational duties” of each member. I can only hope that our elected officials will therefore only be using their iPhones for official business and not to play games like ‘Spore’ or ‘Catch the Egg’.