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BYOD Cost the Energy Department More Than Supplying Government Phones

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Some Energy Department divisions were too liberal with stipends they paid contract employees under contractor-operated bring-your-own-device plans, an auditor has found.

As a result, the department sometimes compensated those contract employees more for supplying their own smartphones and tablets -- which were often loaded up with unlimited voice and data plans -- than it would have paid to give them government devices, Energy’s inspector general found.

Overall, Energy could save at least $2.3 million over three years by better handling how it buys and manages mobile devices, according to the IG report released last week.

In addition to not being strict enough about BYOD policies, Energy spent $325,000 at eight separate locations on devices that were not used at all during the 2012 fiscal year, the report found. Numerous other devices were underutilized during that time, according to the report.

The department also failed to consolidate contracts with mobile carriers in order to benefit from economies of scale, the report found. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has urged agencies to consolidate mobile contracts whenever possible as part of a governmentwide digital strategy. The Agriculture Department, for example, saved $400,000 off its monthly phone bill by consolidating mobile contracts.

“The problems we identified occurred, in part, because the department had not always developed and/or implemented effective policies and procedures to govern the issuance, use and monitoring of mobile devices and services,” the report stated. “For instance, although many sites monitored overall costs, they had not monitored usage to determine whether there was a continuing need for mobile devices. In addition, sites had not developed and implemented policies and procedures to ensure that employees who received stipends actually incurred additional costs as a result of using personal devices for business purposes.”

The report credited Energy with finding some mobile savings, including by pooling plan minutes among employees to avoid overage charges.

Nextgov will discuss the challenges and benefits of Bring-Your-Own-Device policies with government and industry leaders in a live ViewCast at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Click here for more information or to register for the event. 

(Image via imtmphoto/Shutterstock.com)

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