We support the Sunset City Council's decision to buy 10 iPads -- at a cost of $3,790 -- for the mayor, council and department leaders. This technology that can make governing more efficient, cut costs and provide easier communication with constituents, seems a good deal given the relatively low cost. If it's used appropriately, and the iPads retained for its appropriate IT lifespan, the purchases are worth it.
However, there needs to be a clear policy on how the iPads are used by Sunset's officials. They should be tools of governance. Mayor Chad Bangerter is understandably upset that iPads were not included in a previous budget. And, he has a legitimate gripe that no policy has been set for the technology's use. As soon as possible, rules should be established for the iPads use. There should be reasonable limitations on personal use; in other words a clear understanding that the iPads' main functions are for city business, research and fact-gathering and communication with constituents.
Also, and this very important, the iPads should not be provided as gifts to officials when they leave public service, not should they be sold at a discounted price to officials leaving city service. A main benefit of an iPad -- compared to a more traditional computer or notebook -- is that it has a long lifespan. A policy -- quickly -- should be enacted that once an individual's tenure with Sunset city is finished, the iPad is relinquished and prepared for another.
According to news reports, some Sunset officials did not have sufficient information technology to effectively communicate with city residents. There's no excuse for that lack of IT, particularly if one is seeking to be a civic leader. A further advantage of city leaders having an iPad is that will eliminate any excuse an official might have that he or she did not get a message from a constituent needing assistance.