April 2, 2020 / Thomas Brewster, Forbes Staff
Towards the end of March, three of the American government’s key coronavirus response organizations spent a collective $1.3 million on videoconferencing tech from Zoom, a Forbes review of government contracts has found. That was despite widespread criticism of the app’s privacy and security.
The orders – from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – were all made in just a few days from March 23 to 26. They ranged in cost, the highest being $750,000, which the CDC ordered for hosting webinars on COVID-19. FEMA spent $320,000 on 1,500 Zoom software licenses, whilst CDC spent another $160,000 on Zoom webinar tech. An NIH contract at $90,000 also specified some Zoom licenses. They weren’t delivered directly by Zoom, but by partner government contractors CDW Government and Carahsoft Technology.
Neither the government departments nor the contractors had responded to questions on how they were using the technology at the time of publication. Zoom also hadn’t commented.