The White House is Requesting $700K for Standing Desks

The White House is tak­ing a stand.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent pub­lic so­li­cit­a­tion, the Ex­ec­ut­ive Of­fice of the Pres­id­ent is seek­ing up to $700,000 worth of stand­ing desks. The cost is the gov­ern­ment’s best es­tim­ate over a five-year peri­od, al­though the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion will end in Janu­ary 2017, and the lat­ter four years of the con­tract are op­tion­al.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment post­ing was quite spe­cif­ic in that the desks had to be “Var­idesk brand name or equal” and provide the con­tract­or’s pri­cing for vari­ous mod­els with up to three com­puter mon­it­ors. The lar­ger Var­idesks cost between $400 and $500 per unit.

The full min­im­um re­quire­ments are lis­ted be­low:

1) A fully as­sembled height ad­justable stand­ing desktop that sits on top of an ex­ist­ing desk (no as­sembly [i.e., no clamps or arms]); 2) Key­board/mouse tray in­cluded as part of the sys­tem; 3) Ease of use (mul­tiple heights/po­s­i­tions); 4) The ad­just­ment must be sturdy, stable and safe at all height ex­ten­sions to ac­com­mod­ate in­di­vidu­als of vari­ous heights while they are in a stand­ing po­s­i­tion; 5) Dur­able, abil­ity to with­stand wear and tear; 6) Must hold up to 35 pounds; 7) Desk at­tach­ment should have an op­tion that fits eas­ily in­to corners; 8) No loss of work space; 9) Col­or: black unit; 10) Must be fully port­able (eas­ily moved from desk to desk) and eas­ily stored (not cum­ber­some or bulky for stor­age); and 11) Min­im­um of one-year war­ranty in­cluded.

Op­tion­al ac­cessor­ies: 1) Stand­ing mats, dur­able, sturdy, nonslip, and stable cush­ion­ing to sup­port legs and back dur­ing long-term stand­ing.

The stand­ing-desk craze might have re­cently reached a new peak, but some high-pro­file Re­pub­lic­ans in pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have evan­gel­ized the an­ti­sedent­ary life. In a 2002 memo on in­ter­rog­a­tion tech­niques, former De­fense Sec­ret­ary Don­ald Rums­feld fam­ously ques­tioned some of the lim­its on de­tain­ees. “I stand for 8-10 hours a day,” he wrote. “Why is stand­ing lim­ited to four hours?”

For cen­tur­ies, users have ex­tolled the pos­it­ive ef­fects of stand­ing desks, al­though only in the past sev­er­al years have many main­stream pub­lic­a­tions taken no­tice and pro­claimed an­oth­er boom­let. In 2011, the New York Times Magazine pub­lished an art­icle titled, “Is Sit­ting a Leth­al Activ­ity?” Sev­er­al months later, The Wall Street Journ­al ran a piece not­ing how the stand­ing desk is “Sil­ic­on Val­ley’s new­est status sym­bol.” In 2012, Google set up a tread­mill desk at the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion.

Then came The New Re­pub­lic back­lash—“Screw Your Stand­ing Desk! A Sit­ter’s Mani­festo”—and the counter. Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Wash­ing­ton Post column, the ad­justable-height, no-non­sense, white-or-black Var­idesks have popped up at the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health, United Na­tions Sec­ret­ari­at, and the Fed­er­al Re­serve.Fast Com­pany ran a first-per­son nar­rat­ive that year (with the ed­it­or’s note that it “is now one of their most-read lead­er­ship art­icles of 2014”and Smith­so­ni­an.com roun­ded up five health be­ne­fits of stand­ing desks: re­duced risk of obesity, Type 2 Dia­betes, car­di­ovas­cu­lar dis­ease, some forms of can­cer, and thus dy­ing early. Fi­nally in Feb­ru­ary, satire web­site The Onion re­por­ted that Mayo Clin­ic ex­perts have a new dir­ect­ive: “Amer­ic­ans stand up at their desk, leave their of­fice, and nev­er re­turn.”

The White House did not re­spond to com­ment.

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