California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued an order to strip away about 43,000 cell phones from state employees in order to help the cash-starved state get back in the black. I have very mixed feelings about this.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the move will save about $20 million a year and while that won’t solve the $14.5 billion shortfall over the next 18 months, it is a start. The average tab for state workers’ cell phone bill is about $36.
“It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with tax-payer funded cell phones,” Gov. Brown said in a written statement. “The current number of phones out there is astounding.”
Gov. Brown is probably right that there are too many tax-funded cell phones out there and once you start reducing a few million here and there, it can start to add up to real money. Like many governments, the California system is full of bloat and inefficiencies, so I’m sure we could trim the fat off many departments.
I live in California and was very wary of Gov. Brown because he’s an old dude who may not be totally on the ball with current technology and how it can impact modern problems. While I’m sure many state employees use these devices to check Facebook on the go, a cell phone and smartphone are productivity devices and should be part of any major organization’s plans.
Does every state employee need a taxpayer-funded cell phone? Probably not. But we can’t just pretend this is the 1970s (when Jerry Brown was also the governor) and think that workers can be more effective without modern tools.
Making the government most cost-effective and efficient are priorities but I don’t know if stripping cell phones is the way to do it. Am I wrong on this one, friends?