VIEWPOINT

FCC employees were caught abusing cellular phone privileges. Big surprise.

Actually, the FCC employees were doing the very thing that cellular carriers count on when customers sign up for wireless service-they were finding out just how handy the derned things are.

Granted, the employee who made more than 600 personal calls in a seven-month time period-averaging about three personal calls a day-should have wondered whether it was proper to have taxpayers pay for a call to the spouse “just to say hi” or to the local pizzeria.

(Note how the employee used the proper procedures when caught doing something inappropriate-most likely learned through osmosis from close daily contact with our elected leaders:

1. Plead complete ignorance.

2. Blame it on the system.

3. Do not take any personal responsibility.)

But the employees aren’t the only ones at fault here.

Employees are going to use their business cellular phones for personal use just like they use their wired business phones to call the plumber, check on the kids, etc.

Businesses and government agencies that give their employees cellular phones to use for business should spend a few minutes explaining the restrictions imposed upon those employees. (Calls to everyone on the softball team to find out what time practice starts are not permitted). That is just common sense. Supervisors are expected to have that. That is why they are supervisors.

Perhaps federal employees should only be permitted to use prepaid cellular service. After all, with its trillion-dollar debt, the federal government is the perfect candidate for such a service.

Instead, following what was probably an exhaustive seven-month inquiry into the cell phone habits of six federal employees, the Inspector General’s office came up with these potential abuse stoppers:

1. Have employees sign a sheet of paper that explains proper cell phone etiquette. (And hope the employees actually read it).

2. Figure out a way to make employees pay for long-distance calls, and,

3. Find a way to figure out how to charge employees for incoming calls.

How much time and taxpayers’ money do you think that took?

In this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for a government that often finds a way to make the rest of us look a little superior.

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