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Cell phone OR: 17,142

Last week, the new (and former) California Governor Jerry Brown said he had learned that the state was paying for 96,000 cell phones for state employees. He issued a statement saying that “It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones,” and ordered half of them to be turned in by June 1.

Which led to the question: How many state cell phones do Washington, Oregon and Idaho have?

We posed the question to the three states. The one responding so far is Oregon, where a Department of Administrative Services spokesman advises us via email, “that number is 17,142.”

Which on a basis of per-capita population in the states, means Oregon state government has considerably more. Could be interesting to hear if there’s a good reason for that.

We’ll check in again with Washington and Idaho too.

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  1. leonard leonard January 19, 2011

    A state government has many employees working in many different locations. It is important to be able to contact them and for them to be able to contact their superiors. Now days with the unlimited calling plans that you can get from companies like Net10, you can get unlimited use of a phone for $50 a month. Considering that this is $1.50 a day and you are paying a person a lot more than this, it must make sense for them to have phones. I can imagine a scenario where an employee finds a fault with something and can immediately text a photo of the probem to their superior. It has to make sense to issue phones to employess, but with a prepaid unlimited contract it puts a cap on spending, and therefore the question of abuse does not arise.

  2. fortboise fortboise January 20, 2011

    leonard’s comment reminds me of my days in the cube farm, during which I always had a phone. Over the course of my career, we went from answering our own and others’ phones (and filling out pink “While You Were Out” slips), to all having voicemail, etc., to many (but not yet most) people having cellphones, too.

    Before cellphones, I can’t recall any discussion, ever, of cost reducing this part of the infrastructure, even though the PBX, and operator(s) who’d eventually get unanswered calls, and then the VM grid must’ve been a huge expense.

    For the same reason a lot of “consumers” are ditching their landlines, why wouldn’t corporations and governments? An employee might get some after-hours perk out of it, but they’d also be “always available.” Seems like it would make more sense than trying to pretend we’re back in the day when work all happens in one place. (Except for those poor souls who ARE chained to a desk all day, for whom a cellphone doesn’t make business sense. Unless… there is no hard-wired infrastructure in the workplace!)

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