Thousands of tax dollars wasted on unused state-issued cell phones, State Auditor reports

The Mississippi State Auditor's office issued a report Wednesday that outlined how much money...
The Mississippi State Auditor's office issued a report Wednesday that outlined how much money is being spent on unused state-issued cellphones, as well as opportunities for state agencies to reduce unnecessary spending.(Pixabay)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 12:38 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Taxpayers could save nearly $350,000 a year if state-issued cell phones with little to no usage were turned off, according to a report issued by State Auditor Shad White’s office Wednesday.

This report shows that 30% of the over 2,100 analyzed phones had little to no usage. The devices came from five state agencies whose combined annual budgets represent nearly 75% of the state’s yearly spending. These agencies include the Mississippi Departments of Education (MDE), Transportation (MDOT), Health (MSDH), Human Services (MSDHS), and Public Safety (MDPS).

“My office has handled some of the biggest fraud cases in state history, but we’re also committed to looking for savings in the smallest corners of state government,” said White. “If we repurposed this money spent on unused cell phones, we could pay for 11 new police officer salaries or put 14 new police cruisers on the streets every year.”

The report also identified opportunities for state agencies to rightsize certain cell phone plans to reduce unnecessary spending. It concludes with recommendations all state agencies can use to reduce cellphone costs and save taxpayer money.

“We could be putting thousands more textbooks in classrooms each year instead of paying for unused cellphones,” said White. “Low-usage cellphones are just another opportunity for the state to reinvest money spent into more important areas.”

View the full report here.

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