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USDA slashed its mobile phone bill $400,000 per month


The U.S. Agriculture Department has saved about 20 percent of its mobile phone costs by consolidating mobile service contracts, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel told Nextgov.

The total savings amount to about $400,000 per month, an Agriculture spokeswoman said.

"Over the past year, USDA has moved from over 700 separate mobile service plans with three carriers that account for the largest portion of USDA cellular services to 10 service plans in three contracts at an estimated 18 percent to 20 percent savings," she said in an email.

The new slate of contracts is costing USDA about $1.2 million per month compared to about $1.6 million for the legacy plans, she said. The actual month-to-month costs vary because some staff retire or quit, others join the department and still others switch from standard mobile phones to smartphones, she said.

Reducing the number of mobile contracts within agencies is expected to be a major priority of VanRoekel's mobile roadmap for the federal government due in April. Consolidating mobile contracts could lead to significant savings governmentwide, the CIO has said, an idea that seems to be borne out by Agriculture's experience.

As of mid-March, about 98 percent of USDA mobile devices had been moved to the new contract structure, the department spokeswoman said.

Agriculture also was among the first departments to move to a unified cloud-based email system. USDA consolidated 21 legacy email systems as a result of that transition.

(Image via AigarsR/

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