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Should federal employees lose their mobile phones?

Could the Office of Management and Budget learn a thing or two about IT savings from California Gov. Jerry Brown?

After reading our story about Brown proposing to take cell phones away from many state employees, one reader thinks so.

"I would say that only mission critical or emergency personnel should be equipped with cell phones. He should look at computer software and hardware next. The federal government should take a clue from Jerry here."

But not everyone who commented shared that sentiment. Another unnamed reader called Brown's order "political action for the sake of action without consideration of the consequences."

That commenter drew a parallel to war, in which taking out an enemy's communications is always part of the goal of an attack.

"Here the governor is hoping for a positive result from the same action, only this time he is attacking state employees and their ability to do their jobs," the reader wrote. "Perhaps the governor can do his job without a phone or computer? The state employee[s are] very good at what they do every day but to take away the communication in this day in age is not the proper action to save the state money."

What do you think? Should fewer federal employees carry government-provided mobile phones? Or should more? What about technology updates -- do federal employees need to get their refreshes faster, or could they wait a little longer between hardware and operating system upgrades?

In this era of cost-cutting, there's a good chance that managers are already asking these questions, or will be soon. What do you think?

Posted on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:18 PM

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Reader comments

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 Nicole

I am a federal employee recovering from surgery at a friends house. I don't have a federally issued phone, but will need to do the same functions as those of a higher GS level than myself. I don't know how that's legally going to happen while I'm on Medical Flexiplace.

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 Beel VA

I'd be happy to ditch my "electronic leash" BBerry, but having/using it is a requirement of my (govt) job. I'll volunteer to be the first one they eliminate...

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 Dale

If California and the Federal Government take a look at who needs a phone and who does not, rather than just demanding 48,000 phones be turned in, then I think it is okay. It does seem that 40% of state workers w/ govt-issued phones is high, but decide based on the facts, not a simple number.

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 Olde Sarge DC

Less than 1% of federal employees might actually need a government funded mobile phone. Just because most people nowadays can't seem to function without a cell phone does not translate ito their necessity to do the job. I'm sure the government could relize significant savings by limiting mobile phones to only those persons required to be available 24/7 rather than "every manager". Another huge saving could come from not renewing MS Windows/MS Office licenses. Move all government computers to the Linux OS and Open Office. I never did understand the reliance on expensive commercial software when free and open source alternatives are av ailable and more than adequate to the task, not mention more secure.

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 David Johnson

I am a Federal employee who uses his personal cell phone for Government business. I formerly had a Gov't issued cell phone, but elected not to renew when update time came. My rationale is that 95% of my use is personal, and it makes no sense to carry two phones. Beyond that, I have a generous Family Plan, and have never exceeded the allowed minutes. When I had it my Gov't phone was forwarded to my personal phone and almost never used - and I know others in that situation. This solution works for me but may not for folks who are heavy business users (unless their employer subsidizes their personal account). A dual-number phone is technically possible, but most carriers do not offer such a service.

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