For Immediate Release:
October 23, 2007
Contact: Harvey M. Rice
Butkovitz Releases Audit of City’s Cell Phones
Cites Concerns with Policies and Usage
(Philadelphia)— City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released his audit on a sampling of cell phone usage by City departments. The audit’s objective was to determine if city cell phones were being used appropriately with minimal cost to city taxpayers.
Butkovitz stated, “As a result of our sampling audit, we found significant concerns with cell phone controls, procedures and assignments – all of which seem to result in excessive cellular charges to city departments.”
“In our review of the September 2006 bill, we found 625 of the 1,921 phones had no usage. Total charges for these phones were $17,614. Of the 625 phones, 268 belonged to the Streets Department which are held on reserve for seasonal and emergency use. If these phones had been put on dormant status the charges to the city would have been reduced dramatically. We also found phones that were placed on dormant status but were actually being used that resulted in much higher costs because the charges were based on per minute usage rather than being based on a comprehensive package deal rate,” Butkovitz said.
“We were unable to locate a ‘snow phone’ with restricted snow-related emergency use but the bill for that period reflected that the phone was in operation with a total of 4,039 minutes of usage during September. This particular bill also had a number of “877” charges —a number used by Philadelphia Park to accept bets. In fact the ‘snow phone’ had an average of 4,133 minutes of monthly usage from July – September of 2006,” he said.
Butkovitz added, “In our sampling of 89 phones, 19% of phones could not be located and 47% of phone assignment records were inaccurate — phones were not being used by the employees and/or departments to which they were assigned,” he said.
Butkovitz continued, “Based on our findings, we believe the City’s policy for issuance and usage of cellular phones is outdated and we recommend that it be revised and reissued. In addition, a periodic inventory reflecting the assignment and location of phones should be verified. The Department of Public Property should establish and disseminate guidelines for monitoring usage, costs and reimbursements to departments and be more proactive in insuring that each department is monitoring usage in their respective departments.”
Butkovitz ended by stating, “This audit demonstrates that when policies, procedures and monitoring are ignored, greater costs are incurred by the City. I urge the Department of Public Property to implement our recommendations and I urge all Departments to be more vigilant in monitoring cell phone usage.”