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Internal Control of Telecommunication Devices

Hello, Can anyone offer any advice or policy resources for the following situation: A municipal government that has a senior leadership team of 5, and reports to council has recently issued smart tablets to each council member. Unfortunately, no terms of agreement document was created for them to sign and there is no policy that addresses appropriate and inappropriate usage. Management is concerned with public relations surrounding non-business use that can go over and above the data plan and result in excessive charges. Anything on the tablet is also subject to a Freedom of Information Act (meaning it could end up in the local paper). Some senior managers have also been issued smart tablets. The organization also has issued several hundred cell phones to it's 500 full time equivalent employees but they weren't required to sign an agreement to terms of usage. There is a policy document but it is not well publicized, users are not issued a copy when they receive their phone, and the document is outdated making reference to obsolete equipment such as PDAs. The organization has two different cell phone providers and the employees weren't instructed on what their service package includes (data limits, long distance minutes etc.). The IT Dept. relies on cell phone users traveling internationally to notify them of their travel before hand so they can add a roaming package. There have been several cases where employees failed to do this claiming they didn't know they had to and racked up several hundred dollars of roaming charges. Given that this is a public sector organization, does anyone have any advice of what controls to put in place and which department should enforce them (Finance or IT?). In this case, Finance pays the bills but IT is responsible for selecting the appropriate device and issuing it. Any advice or referrals to sources would be much appreciated.

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I would:

1. Formulate the policy
2. E-mail the policy and post on the companies intra-net.
3. Mail the policy (company mail should suffice) to all. Have them sign receipt that the policy was received. Give a dead line for all signatures otherwise their device will be turned off and retrieved.
4. Annually re-e-mail the policy.
5. Mail any updates to the policy as required (sort of like AMEX).
6. If you really want to be proactive, post the policy on your public web page, this way if there is an issue, the policy has been posted and the employee has obviously violated it.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Anon,

You've got a laundry list there.
Wayne gives a very good "here is the process" look.

I can't answer everything (that would be a book).
1) Whoever is responsible for enforcing your Transparency rules should set the policy. Not knowing your particular jurisdiction, I can't say for sure. However, generally, there is a *vastly higher standard* of ethics and transparency in the Public sphere. I'm hoping you've got someone assigned to that problem. If not, fund it ;-)
2) "Anthony Weiner". You can't say that, but that's the emotion you want to communicate. Per Wayne, poach a T's and C's for use. Explicit that they are responsible for self-governance. They will not use the devices for personal uses. They understand that everything that is communicated over those devices are public record.
3) The policy could be duplicated with the term "PDA" swapped for "device". It is hard to regulate tomorrow's tech with today's understandings. That being said, you've got that thing, so clarify that it is broad in application, and distribute it.
4) Negotiate a package that locks out roaming. This is the one area where it really is *your* obligation to make this safe. "Unlimited" plans are out there, and alerts can be set, etc. Cancel the other plans. Wouldn't you hate your Mayor visiting Beijing to drum up business, forgetting that his tablet is "roaming", getting a $20K bill (easy in a day), and being vilified for a mistake that *you* (generally speaking) set her up for?

And......
generally, if a council member really messes up....Meh. Try not to sweat that part of it.

KP

Anonymous
(Accounting Supervisor) |

Thanks guys!

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