Governor takes cell phones away from employees

Gov. Brown wants to recall 48,000 phones to save the state money

California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to take back 48,000 mobile phones from state employees, part of  an effort to cut spending. Brown has issued an order demanding return of the phones by June 1. He said the state would save at least $20 million from the effort. The 48,000 phones is about half the total number that the state provides for employees.

About 40 percent of the state's workforce carries state-issued phones, something Brown finds unacceptable.

“It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones,” Brown said in a statement. “Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding.”

For that matter, he said the planned reduction might not be enough.

“Even with a 50 percent reduction, one-fifth of all state employees will still have cell phones,” Brown said. “That still seems like too much and I want every department and agency to examine and justify all cell phone usage.”

He acknowledged that some phones could be under contracts that would prevent them from being decommissioned, which could prevent all 48,000 from being collected by June 1, but that “it is also conceivable that we can do it earlier.”

“In the face of a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense,” Brown said in his statement. “But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can’t be justified. We’re facing a budget crisis in California and I want to achieve all possible, reasonable savings. We have one of the best state workforces in America, and I am confident that all state employees will understand the need for this move and will cooperate.”

Mobile devices, particularly smart phones, are increasing being used on the job by employees in the public and private sectors. But cash-strapped states and municipalities are looking to cut costs where they can. Corpus Christi, Texas, also recently cut down on cell phone use by employees.

While cutting back on state-issued cell phones, California is allowing the use of personal smart phones for telework, as long as they meet the state’s security requirements, Lauren Katims writes in Government Technology

The state’s new telework policy was updated Jan. 1 to include smart phones among on-the-job devices, subjecting them to the same requirements as desktop or laptop PCs.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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Government Cyber Insider tracks the technologies, policies, threats and emerging solutions that shape the cybersecurity landscape.


Reader comments

Fri, Jan 14, 2011

I agree cell phones are over rated as aa form of communication. Sometimes it just impedes people from doing there work cause other people are always calling about petty things. Like meetings when it is not neccessary. We have become to dependent and not independent in making decisions to do our work. Much more could be accomplished if I did not get a phone call every 10 minutes or emails.

Thu, Jan 13, 2011 bob.C florida

cutting off cell phone usage, why stop there. State vehicles and other non essenstial materials would help but it will not drop the totals much. look hard and cut all non essential programs and perks, there is enough pork in any government program to make a real difference. People should be happy to have a job to support their families, if buggets are not cut then the jobs are next and it may be theirs.

Thu, Jan 13, 2011 Michael

The utter thought that by eliminitation of communication you improve the result is but an example of political action for the sake of action without consideration of the consaquences and increased cost to the people of the State because of that loss. Less communication has always lead to disruption and disorganization, just ask our military what it is they do first in an attack. In Iraq they destroyed communication first. It is the loss of communication that led to a quick defeat of our enemy. 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. Perhaps the governor can do his job without a phone or computer? The State employee is 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. repeated attempts to notify the State of excessive waste has gone unheaded for years. Once again the focus is directed at the employees instead of Administrations efforts to hide massive waste. Who's really surprised at this action?

Thu, Jan 13, 2011

Governments at all levels should be permitted by the FCC to open there own private radio systems to give internet protocol cell phone like service that can only be used for government business. Now that there is true competition among carriers and the internet is there access by a special equipment transceiver should be free.

Thu, Jan 13, 2011

Why do welfare people get a phone? Take their phones away from them would save allot of money.

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