Why Do California State Employees Need $423K Worth Of iPads?

In retail and food service, the iPad has become the pricey accessory of choice for point of sale systems. But various state agencies in California are now having to explain why they spent piles of cash on the popular tablet computers.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in just the last year and a half, state agencies have spent a total of $423,000 on iPads — and they don’t appear to be paying bulk prices.

For example, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs spent $95,000 for 127 iPads. That’s more than $748/iPad. Considering that you can get the base model for $499, that means the agency either overpaid by a huge amount or maybe got a slight deal on the top of the line 64GB 3G model that normally retails for $829.

And Veterans Affairs isn’t the most flagrant spender. Somehow, the Board of Equalization thinks that an iPad is worth $1,055… even when buying 62 of them. And the Caltrans crew was apparently snookered into paying $1,117 each for their 30 iPads.

Earlier this summer, the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which can’t even keep its website operating, was forced to return about half of the 24 iPads it had purchased.

A rep for Governor Jerry Brown, whose call for agencies to trim back on such frivolous spending has apparently landed on deaf ears, says that some of the iPads are being used by doctors and engineers in the field and are being purchase in lieu of laptops.

But that doesn’t make much sense, given that you can buy a decent netbook for a fraction of the prices these agencies are overpaying for iPads. Even the least expensive 3G iPad is only $629. Surely if you’re buying dozens of the devices, you should be able to get a discount on the device.

State agencies spend $423,000 on iPads [SFgate.com]