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Government cellphone usage must be monitored

The latest research by Unison Communications reveals that between 47%-63% of government communication budgets are spent on cellphone communication. On average, mobile rates are 50% more expensive than fixed line rates which leaves the South African taxpayer footing the bill for expensive mobile calls.

‚When taxpayers are footing the bill, government needs to be aware that there are high levels of mobile communications within their departments that cater for staff’s personal use only,‚ says Craig Young, Group Managing Director of Unison Communications.

‚Our research reveals that as much as 63% of all mobile communications budgets go to private calls. Mobile communication is more popular and many government departments are forced to spend more on mobile contracts for employees because they are issued by the departments themselves. Without established standards and policy on the correct use of mobile communications departments could see usage go completely unmanaged and mobile usage in government is on average 20% higher than the private sector,‚ he explains.

Young adds, ‚The complication is that proper usage of these phones is not effectively managed or monitored. Mobile billings are in many instances regarded as an HR expense and are removed from regular financial or technical costs. The fault here is that true amount spent on private usage cannot be accurately determined.‚

According to Young the challenges facing government are:

• Service providers are not going to willingly limit their services

‚Ä¢ Cap restrictions are ineffective and often lead to complicated HR challenges where the legwork involved to recover the money from employees is too time consuming. In extreme instances Unison’s research has revealed that employees may owe as much as 80% of their annual salary in outstanding amounts.

• Mobile communications has increased communications costs as much as 60% despite departments adopting convergence strategies

• There is a clear lack of accountability among government employees regarding

Without access to clearly presented and informative reporting solutions, department heads will not be able to effectively manage their mobile communication expenditure. By giving managers the right information and reallocating mobile communication costs and an IT or financial cost to the department tighter controls can be established.

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