Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brown strips cell phones from state employees

Gov. Jerry Brown issued his first executive order Tuesday, taking aim at a technology that wasn't around the last time he was the state's top official: cell phones.

The governor ordered state agency and department heads to collect half of the approximately 96,000 state-issued cell phones currently in public employees' hands, a move he said will save California at least $20 million a year. Each cell phone costs an average of $36 a month, he added.

"It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with tax-payer funded cell phones," Brown said in a written statement. "The current number of phones out there is astounding."

Brown said he would like to see the number of cell phones cut by 48,000 by June 1, but said it may take a bit longer because some of those devices may be under contract with carriers. He noted that even with the reduction, one-fifth of state employees will still have cell phones.

While some state employees may need cell phones, he said, "that still seems like too much and I want every department and agency to examine and justify all cell phone usage."

California is facing an estimated $25.4 billion shortfall over the next 18 months, and Brown unveiled a budget proposal Monday that included deep cuts to social services and higher education as well as the extension of some taxes that are set to sunset this year.

He's also promised to root out any waste through executive orders like the one issued today.

"In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense. But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can't be justified," he said. ...

via Brown strips cell phones from state employees.

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