Consumers, businesses and politicians are already aware of the usefulness of tablet devices; sales continue to increase, more and more apps are being developed to extend the feature-set of the devices and they are starting to be allowed in Congress to aid discussion in the some of the world’s most powerful parliaments.
In many countries, citizens are able to request information from their governments, simply by filing what is known as a Freedom Of Information Act request. Essentially, it works as a “right-to-know” process, where citizens can request government-held information from the state, which can be received for free or at cost – it is a way for a government to promote openness and increase the flow of information.
A recent request, filed on August 18 2011, saw a person file for information from internal agencies that related to discussions that reviewed the “merits and/or disadvantages of iPads and/or similar pad/tablet computer devices for employee use”.
Responding to the request, the US Government’s General Services Administration acknowledged the request, replied and stated that it was happy to process it but to ensure that costs associated with the search were not “borne by the general taxpaying public”, the GSA would require the submitter to pay $113.680 for time spent searching and reviewing.
The scope of the request is not known, even the request was shared with BoingBoing anonymously. It’s possible that it would span several agencies and incur a significant amount of search time. However, it could also be a ploy by the GSA to reduce the number of requests it actually has to process.
If you wanted to know what US agencies internally thought of tablet devices, specifically the iPad, you might be out of luck. You could, of course, file your own request but it might leave you out of pocket as a result.