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City Employees Waste About $1M on Cellphones, Audit Finds

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Out with the old cellphone habits! (Photo by a.drian via Flickr)
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City of Los Angeles employees managed to waste about $1M on cellphones, says City Controller Wendy Greuel in an audit released yesterday aimed at uncovering the spending habits of seven departments when it comes to cellular technology. Said Greuel of her findings: "My audit demonstrates that our technology policies need to keep pace with technology. Cellular phone service contracts are constantly evolving and we should not pay a penny more than we have to - ever."A few figures from the audit:
There are 11,812 cell phones issued Citywide, including the proprietary departments, and of that 11,812, there are 6,560 cell phones in City controlled departments, which cost the City approximately $4.8 million annually.
There are 563 cell phones that had zero usage for two or three consecutive months, at a total cost of about $46,000 in monthly recurring charges.
Departments inadequately monitored usage, leading to poor plan selection and unnecessary costs of over $27,000 in extra charges for directory assistance and the like - all within only a 3 month period.
The departments with the most City issued cell phones are: Department of Water and Power (3,971); Los Angeles Police Department (1,525) Los Angeles World Airports (872); Los Angeles Fire Department (798); General Services Department (580); Department of Building and Safety (494).

Greuel believes that if departments were more vigilant about seeking out savings among cellphone service plans, or providing stipends to employees who give up their city-issued phone and use their personal phone on the jobs, the City of Los Angeles could save millions. By swapping stipends for issued phones, the savings alone would be $1.2 million annually, asserts Greuel.