Auditors: SC Education Dept Wastes Thousands on Personal Cell Phones

In June, South Carolina’s Legislative Audit Council (LAC) released a report on the use of cell phones by state agencies and their employees. The LAC identifies widespread waste and abuse ranging from poorly crafted procurement policies to outright fraud.

Chief among the culprits: South Carolina’s State Department of Education (SDE).

In 2006 SDE spent more than $90,000 on cell phones alone. This included an unbelievable $15,800 in unnecessary roaming, overage minutes, and directory assistance fees. The waste didn’t stop there. Bureaucrats blew through untold tax dollars on personal calls and even unwarranted personal downloads like ringtones and horoscopes.

In fact, almost 20 percent of the total SDE cell phone bill was overage charges.

With the taxpayers footing the bill, education bureaucrats have no incentive to pool minutes or adjust their plans – instead they just let the extra minutes rack up, month after month. Likewise, it ‘s just too difficult to use toll-free 1-800 numbers for directory assistance, when $1.49 pay-per-use “411” calls are three easy buttons away.

Wasting tax dollars on personal calls and ringtones is not just unethical. It’s illegal. In its report, the LAC observed that federal tax law places stringent limitations on agency owned phones, which are categorized as “listed state property” and subject to both reimbursement and additional taxes when used for personal calls.

South Carolina’s public schools are the worst in the nation. Fewer than half of the state’s students complete high school and those who did earn the nation’s lowest average SAT scores. With money grubbing bureaucrats wasting thousands of taxpayer’s dollars on personal calls and ringtones it is painful clear: the State Department of Education lacks the credibility and competence required to reform public education.

Only when lawmakers restructure the funding of education, and spend money on individual students (rather than the one size fits all public schools) will administrators be held to account for their waste and inefficiency.

UPDATE: Visit State Senator Kevin Bryant’s blog for more information on the LAC audit.

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10 responses to “Auditors: SC Education Dept Wastes Thousands on Personal Cell Phones

  1. justanothertaxpayer

    This would be funny, if it weren’t so outrageous. No wonder our schools stink. And to think Rex who cant even properly manage an agency wants to run the whole state government!

  2. neutral observer

    Its sad. But it more illustrative of why things are so bad. There is a culture that says its ok to do as you please on the taxpayers’ dime. As low-down and deceitful as this is, it is nothing compared to the outright illegal actions of Lexington 1, the stroom trooper tactics of outright threats by the Spartanburg districts or the dumpsters full of new textbooks showing up in Charleston. The entire system has become corrupt and totally resistant to change.

    The Legislature should take away all their damn cell phones, make the bureaucrats pay for them and request reimbursement. Then you would see more frugal use.

  3. . This is just like them checking in to four star hotels…they do whatever they want because they feel like no one will ever complain about it. If the government that the bureaucrats want to keep expanding is going to be taking the money I spend my days and weekends earning, then they better not be spending it on downloading horoscopes!

  4. Tothemaximum

    This is unbelieveable! What mindless waste! Funny, but on the way into work this morning I heard a local news item about a school district that was going to have to cut back and economize. Do you think they would even think about starting here? I doubt it! It will be the teachers that get laid off first.

  5. I plan to call my legislator and demand an inquiry into this kind of misuse of our money. I know the picture is just a joke but Rex must be able to do something to curb this. He better get a handle on this kind of corruption before he tries to run for governor

  6. I agree with “neutral” observer…just make them submit minutes for reimbursement. That is something the Legislature could actually do to save the taxpayers some money. It seems like there are lots of ways like this to cut out waste, but nobody is getting the ball rolling in the legislature. They are all too worried about sitting around agreeing with each other about what a miser Sanford is

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