The excuse? Antiquated equipment used by the Bush administration is so low-tech they can’t understand it. No, really:
It’s more than five hours and counting now since the entire White House e-mail system went down.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the technical snafu at his 1:30 p.m. briefing, apologizing to the media for the e-mail silence this afternoon.
The result is maddening for the new White House team, which already has been frustrated with the archaic communications gear they discovered when they arrived at their offices. …
Both outgoing and incoming mail are out, the result, an aide explained, of an outage with the Outlook server. The aide said the outage goes beyond the press shop. The first lady’s office is also without e-mail, as are other offices.
Outlook isn’t exactly “archaic”. Many organizations use Outlook to handle e-mail, scheduling, and other tasks. It’s not my favorite program, but it works, especially for large organizations. Or at least large organizations that know what they’re doing.
This follows on the heels of their inability to get the voice-mail system to re-open the White House Comment Line. Bush staffers got the blame for that, too. Last week, they were bitching to the Washington Post about having to use PCs instead of Macs:
One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.
Six-year-old Microsoft software? In other words, they didn’t upgrade from XP to Vista, a wise choice under the circumstances. Not only did it save the White House some money, it probably saved them untold headaches, too. Maybe someone on the Obama transition team should have checked the platform and started advising people to brush up on their PC skills.
Team Obama has been in office a week. At what point will they stop blaming Bush for their troubles and take some responsibility for themselves? 2012? After all, the supposed technological Neanderthals of the Bush White House managed to keep the Outlook servers and XP computers in operation until January 20th. (via David Knowles at AOL Political Machine)
Update: As several commenters have pointed out, there are no Outlook servers. Outlook uses Exchange servers. That may have been a mistake by the Post rather than the White House, though. Since the reporting doesn’t use verbatim quotes, it’s impossible to determine.
Update II: So now we have a Treasury Secretary who can’t figure out his own taxes and a White House that can’t deal with e-mail. So much for competence.