Cell phone abuse in government

7/9/2008:

See? We’re not the only ones interested in how city cell phones are used (or abused):

From Newsday:

Islip investigation eyes cell phone abuse

About a year ago, Islip officials started looking at the town’s cell phone bills. What they found was a mess: 13 different calling plans, 74 phones that weren’t being used, and 25 phones whose users they still can’t identify.

Islip is now investigating between 10 and 15 employees suspected of abusing town cell phone accounts — and in a broad new policy, Islip Supervisor Philip Nolan is putting cell phones on the chopping block.

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling and disgraceful,” said Nolan, who expects to save the town about $50,000 per year.

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Nolan would not identify the employees under investigation, or comment on the town’s probe because it is not complete.

A town policy adopted in 1989 mandated that Islip’s cell phones be used only for town business. Otherwise, Nolan said, there was no central database of cell phone bills, no policy on who should get a phone or how the town should manage its mobile plans.

On May 1, the town will shut off 112 — or 36 percent — of the town’s 310 phones. Three others were handed in this month. Employees who keep their phones will be required to reimburse the town for all personal calls, at 40 cents per minute — something Nolan said he has done with his own cell phone account since he took office in November 2006. Town records obtained by Newsday show a haphazard collection of mobile phone accounts.

Islip is paying for 10 phones assigned to employees who have retired or left the town. Another account is still active even though its user, a code enforcement investigator, died in December 2006.

During their review, town officials called 25 phones up to four times — but never determined whom the phones had been assigned to. And in the data processing department, one phone costs $73 per month while another costs $41.

The average cell phone holder — excluding the 74 who didn’t use their phones at all — talked for 242 minutes per month. But 11 employees used more than 1,000 minutes per month, including two who used more than 2,000 minutes.

Under the town’s new policy, cell phones will be made available to elected officials, commissioners and their deputies, department heads, emergency response personnel and code enforcement officers. Other employees can apply for a mobile if it’s deemed necessary to their work.

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3 Comments on "Cell phone abuse in government"


fern
Member
fern
8 years 2 months ago

I can think of about 20 positions at city hall that warrant having a city government issued cell phone, and yet Hoboken has given out over a hundred of them. Who are these employees?? I know that one of the female public works department employees who works at a park sits there and blabs on a cell phone all day. Does she have a city issued phone? That phone is one of the reasons she doesn’t do her job! I know that Beth Mason demanded to see the cell phone records. Did she ever obtain them? 👿

hobojoe
Member
8 years 2 months ago

At first I was expecting to read about how some citizens of Islip were demanding accountability from their government on the use of taxpayer-funded phones, how the Islip town administration was blocking their attempts at transparency and figuring some sort of citizen lawsuit was involved. Kind of like in Hoboken.

Oops. Turns out that the Islip town is (finally) actually doing their OWN investigating, and taking care of the problems ON THEIR OWN.

Now what’s the problem, Hoboken city hall?

bradykp
Member
bradykp
8 years 2 months ago

i wonder how much money could be saved across the country if this were followed in every city, state, and federal policy?

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