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Audit: Phone law results mixed

Audit: Phone law results mixed

By: Magnolia Tribune - February 16, 2009

The Clarion-Ledger, 2/15/9

A state law designed to curb cell-phone usage among state agencies has not cut costs as some had expected but may have increased efficiency, according to a recent state auditor’s report.

Since 2004, agencies have added more than 1,000 wireless devices to the state’s tab, pushing service subscription costs up 25 percent – from about $2 million to $2.5 million.

Lawmakers passed legislation in 2006 that aimed to regulate state cell phones by prohibiting personal use, limiting the number of devices and restricting the amount that could be paid for phones.

“While the goal of the Legislature may have been to better control state cell-phone use, the law has not resulted in reduced numbers or overall cost reduction, yet,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to lawmakers.

The law followed a 2004 performance audit that showed the state was paying for more than 5,000 government-issued phones. At the time, lawmakers said they expected expenditures could be cut in half by the legislation.

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