Distraught government employees suffer under BlackBerry’s reign

Even as the government slowly begins picking up iPhones, the vast majority of federal workers living in D.C. and beyond are still assigned one of Research in Motion’s severely square and tired BlackBerry devices. The reasons are varied, according to a Washington Post report, and some are more dubious than others.

Security is the number one issue, says Casey Coleman, spokesperson for the General Service Agency that distributes the government’s bureaucratic supplies. “We appreciate RIM’s focus on security, which is paramount for government use.” There are also long-range government contracts keeping BlackBerrys in place, and the GSA says tech staffers are trained to fix the current devices. Clearly they have little faith in the feds’ tech team — how hard can it be to learn a new phone model? Regardless, BlackBerrys, with a slice of only 12% of the general market, will have a home in DC for years to come, much to distraught federal employees’ chagrin:

BlackBerry [is] as much a part of federal culture as short-sleeve, white-collared shirts were among NASA engineers or lapel pins are among politicians on Capitol Hill. Some analysts even expect Washington to become the last bastion for RIM’s devices. That would leave many Washingtonians with smartphone envy.

Paul Silder, a government contractor, says he feels stuck with the BlackBerry that the Department of Homeland Security gave him.

So the 44-year-old father of two is left longing for an iPhone or an Android that he can proudly tuck into the holster on his left hip.

“I want a bigger screen. I only really use it for work, but it would be nice to surf the Web more easily,” Silder sighs.

The federal government can be so cruel.

But BlackBerry seems to finally be embracing itself as the ugly step child of the cell phone world. “BlackBerry cannot succeed if we try to be everybody’s darling and all things to all people,” Thorstein Heins, installed as CEO in January, said in a conference call last week.