SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on Wednesday (June 8) announced that the state has eliminated 29,398 cell phones, achieving a 44 percent reduction in the number of phones issued to state employees in state agencies and departments under the Governor’s direct authority.

Deeper cuts will be made in the next 30 days in order to reach the target number of 33,559 cell phones and achieve the 50 percent reduction outlined in an Executive Order issued on January 11, 2011. The 50 percent reduction is expected to save taxpayers at least $13 million.

“We’ve eliminated tens of thousands of cell phones and saved taxpayers millions, but we’re not done,” said Governor Brown, who turned in his own government-issued cell phone the day the order was issued and cut the number of phones issued to Governor’s Office employees by 75 percent.

The Governor’s Executive Order called for the state’s agencies and departments to review and cut the number of taxpayer-funded cell phones and smart phones in half. Of the 67,117 phones identified, agencies and departments have eliminated 29,398 devices to date. The state must eliminate a total of 33,559 phones to achieve the 50 percent cut.

The administration has compiled data which suggests that up to 51 percent of state-issued cell phones can be cut. However, various agencies and departments have submitted requests for a total of 4,916 exemptions from the Executive Order. These exemption requests will be reviewed in order to ensure they are necessary and, if necessary, the administration will seek deeper cuts in other departments.

“In my Executive Order I made it clear that exemptions will only be granted if phones are mission critical or tied to public safety,” Governor Brown said. “We will deny exemption requests—or force deeper cuts to other agencies and departments—to ensure the 50 percent reduction is realized within 30 days.”

Agencies and departments are now working closely with vendors to return the phones for refunds and credits toward future service charges.

The Executive Order originally identified approximately 96,000 devices. As agencies and departments reviewed their cell phone use, they discovered that this figure included:
• 11,300 devices at other state government entities that are not under the Governor’s executive authority.
• 8,700 devices that had already been eliminated or were previously deactivated.
• 7,000 devices, originally classified as cell phones and smart phones, were other telecommunications devices not covered by the order (such as data modems in CHP vehicles and traffic telemetry devices used by CalTrans)
• 2,000 were furnished by local and federal authorities and so are not subject to the order.

These were excluded, resulting in the 67,117 figure.

In addition to reducing the state’s cell phones, Governor Brown has already slashed spending in his own office by more than 25 percent and ordered state agencies and departments to:

• Halt all non-essential state employee travel;
• Recover millions of dollars in uncollected salary and travel advances;
• Stop spending taxpayer dollars on free giveaway and gift items;
• Reduce the passenger vehicle fleet;
• Freeze hiring across state government.