Pilot Program Shares the Cost
Personal Cell Phones
for Government Use
By Tony Zecca
Norman Bowles, Director of the Federal Aviation Administration
Logistics Center in Oklahoma City, will give a choice to employees
who use mobile communications. Use a government-owned phone/pager
or use your privately owned cell phone and get reimbursed at a
flat payment rate, much like the reimbursement for using your
car for government business. No stranger to out-of-the-box thinking,
the Logistics Center is a Reinvention Lab in the Department
of Transportation and a recipient of a Merit Award in this
year's President's Quality Award Program. The Center has also
earned certification in the international standard for quality,
federal workers who need to stay connected, the government pays
$60 a month for a pager, $60 a month for a cell phone. Today's
technology combines voice mail and cellular phone in one service
cost. Many workers also have cell phones and pagers for their
personal use. Isn't there a way to tap into the phone that a person
already owns? Wouldnt it save the government money? Wouldn't
federal workers prefer it that way instead of carrying an extra
phone and pager? How compliant would employees be if office communications
were maintained on their own cellular phones?
sense thinking like this that has Norman Bowles, Director of FAALC
excited. A visionary who saw cross-references to the Department
of Transportation's standard polices of government travel, he
found a way to apply similar rules to the use of cellular phones.
"Why can't we reimburse employees for the use of a personal cellular
phone in the same way we reimburse for mileage?" Bowles said.
"Less abuse, less waste, people would be happier and more
willing to be accessible."
cellular phones and pagers for example, are an essential and expensive
part of FAA operations. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
the Federal Aviation Administration Logistics Center helps keep
the skies safe, repairing and supporting a host of air traffic
control systems, including navigation and landing products. A
customer-care center responds to more than 33,000 calls a year
from 6,000 technicians around the nation who maintain the country's
air traffic control system.
Center spends approximately $70,000 per year on contracts for
mobile communications, wireless devices, pagers and cellular phones.
similar techniques as those used for government travel, the Logistics
Center has put into effect a pilot program that anticipates savings
of 45%-75% annually. In situations where FAALC determines mobile
communicating equipment is required, FAALC will give the employee
a choice of use of a government owned phone or pager or a privately
owned cell phone, which will be reimbursed at a flat payment rate.
on we will either give employees meeting our criteria a government
cell phone or we will give them $30 a month to use their personal
cell phone if it meets our criteria. It not only results in lower
monthly costs, but also relieves property management responsibility,
repair and replacement, tracking usage and paying bills. In addition,
because we are giving out money to "eligible" employees, it has
forced us to really look at the criteria we use to issue a government
looks at the cost of up keep and accountability, current technologies,
dollars saved, this is an idea every agency could benefit from.
Works: Voucher Program
When an employee
chooses to use his or her personal cellular phone, eligible employees
will be issued a voucher of $30. The $30 voucher may be adjusted
as time goes on to reflect the existing market conditions, just
the same way that mileage is periodically recomputed for per diem.
Only designated employees requiring a government cellular phone
will be eligible. Criteria requirements include an employee that
FAA has determined must be in a "ready mode status." Additionally,
the "private mobile communication system" must meet FAALC requirements.
The United States Government maintains no responsibility
for equipment and service, however users who exceed their $30
voucher in any month can claim the additional value. Each user
will be required to submit a form to accounting in order to receive
Means to the Government, and to the Employee
the benefits for the agency and the employee:
- An immediate
return on investment since there is no cost for phones or equipment.
operational and administrative cost savings over the current
- No vendors
switch over cost, with a simple transparent transition process.
- The use
of one-piece, telecommunications equipment per individual vice
pager and cell phone.
no longer have to carry equipment that is restricted from private
a potentially big breakthrough in the sense that it leverages
other reimbursement concepts," Bowles said. "The notion
that it makes sense for the government to rely on an individual's
personally owned communication device and that the reimbursement
does not have to be on a minute by minute basis, has implications
that could be applicable to other situations as well."
is the Program Director for the Federal Aviation Administrations
Logistics Center. He can be reached at FAALC, 6500 South MacArthur,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73169. Phone (405) 954-4358, Fax (405)
Zecca is the Pubic Affairs Coordinator for he United States Coast
Guard Vessel Traffic Service Puget Sound in Washington State.
Currently writing for Access
America E-Gov E-Zine, he can be reached at AZecca@aol.com.
Taste of Reinvention from the FAA Logistics Center
Partnership for Reinventing Government Reinvention Labs/Waivers
Quality Award Program