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Where Did You Put Barack Obama's Hologram?

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, April 15 2011

White House photo by Pete Souza

At a Chicago fundraiser last night, President Obama had some harsh things to say about the state he found government technology in when he became president in remarks overheard and tweeted by CBS News' radio correspondent Mark Knoller:

Pres. Obama complained last night about antiquated technology he has to use at the White House.

And:

At a fundraiser in Chicago, Obama complained about the White House: ”When it comes to technology, we are like 30 years behind.”

And:

Obama said he thought that as president, he’d have some “cool phones and stuff” in the Oval Office, but “we can’t get our phones to work!”

And:

Obama portrayed himself as exasperated. “Come on, guys. I’m the President of the United States. Where’s the fancy buttons & stuff and the big screen comes up. It doesn’t happen.”

And:

Pres Obama said the govt's IT "is horrible." He said that's the case "across the board:" at the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the agencies.

I joked on Twitter that "you almost hope China's not reading this stuff." That has sparked a little mini-debate, with a few smart folks arguing that the secret's out -- everyone knows how bad this stuff is. But I'd push back on that; there's an understanding that the United States federal government might not be on the cutting edge of the technology space, and then there's the fact that sometimes the lights go out in the White House. The technologies and infrastructures that federal employees have to work with are, as Obama testified, often incredibly antiquated. That's a state of affairs that can make it more frustrating than it needs to be to work in the government's service.

At the very least, if Obama's to be believed, that's not something he fully appreciated until he became president. And he was a United States senator. (HT Brian Stelter for picking up on the tech bits in Knoller's tweets.)

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