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Federal Computer Week asked several current and former chief information officers how they felt about using a BlackBerry to manage their time. Here are a few of the answers we heard and reported in the Jan. 9, 2006, issue of the magazine.

Thomas Jarrett, CIO at the Delaware Technology and Information Department
Jarrett said he carries two pagers, a BlackBerry and a cell phone. “I like the diversity,” he said. But all that connectivity back to the office has a downside — actually, several downsides. “Talking on the phone is one thing, but checking messages while you’re driving is somewhat different” and more dangerous, he said. “I’ve caught myself doing it.”

Karen Hogan, deputy and acting CIO at the Commerce Department
Hogan said she carries a blue BlackBerry that she keeps on at all times. “I call it a blueberry,” she said.

“My husband’s jealous of it.”

Robert Otto, chief technology officer at the U.S. Postal Service
Otto said he carries a BlackBerry at all times. So do 5,700 other USPS officers, executives and frontline managers. It is their e-mail, text-messaging and Web access terminal. It is also their phone pager. Executives and managers can use it to approve purchases, travel vouchers and data access requests. “It allows me to have a life while staying in touch with the organization I lead,” Otto said.

Paul Strassmann, former director of defense information at the Defense Department
Strassmann said he is more a foe than a friend of handheld devices. When people reach for their little devices and begin thumbing during a meeting, he is offended.

Pulling out a BlackBerry during a policy review or board meeting shows contempt, he said. Strassmann, an independent consultant, is convinced that CIOs’ reliance on their electronic gadgets often leads to hurried and bad decisions. “BlackBerrys encourage knee-jerk reactions,” he said.

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