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