Assignment and Use of Telephones

Approved Date

Provides guidance concerning exposure for state employees and SUNY students while driving vehicles (campus, rental or personally-owned) on SUNY business or for other campus-authorized purposes.


Policy Elaboration



It is the policy of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury (the College) to provide telephones to employees primarily for use in the conduct of normal business activities and on a limited basis, for employees’ personal use. The College provides desk telephones to employees and cell phones for authorized individuals whose duties and responsibilities require immediate or remote communication capabilities. Described below is the procedure associated with the assignment, use and management of telephones by College employees.



2.1 The Chief Financial Officer, as the President’s designee, is responsible for administration of this policy which includes the acquisition of cell phones, the specific service plan for telephone use, and the method of payment for personal telephone calls by employees. The acquisition of telephone services and service plans must be in accordance with the SUNY Purchasing and Contract Procedures. The Business Compliance Office, under the supervision of Chief Financial Officer is the organizational unit responsible for implementing and monitoring this policy.


2.2 Divisional Vice Presidents or Administrative Department Heads are responsible for reviewing the propriety of the monthly telephone bill for areas under their supervision. In addition, the Vice Presidents or Department Heads are responsible for designating telephones for long distance calling, notifying the Telecommunications Unit when an employee is transferred or terminated.


2.3 The Telecommunications Unit, under the direction of the Chief Information Officer, is responsible for maintaining a current inventory of telephones, both desk and cell phone, and working with the Chief Financial Officer in obtaining a service plan that meets the College’s needs. Such inventory should include (where applicable) decal numbers, serial numbers and telephone numbers, along with the name of each employee to whom a unit has been assigned.


2.4 An Employee who uses a desk or cell phone must read, understand and comply with this policy and applicable procedures. Each employee must acknowledge receipt of the College’s telephone policy by signing Exhibit 1 and returning it to the Divisional Vice President or Department Head. This form is to be kept in the employees’ departmental personnel file.



3.1 For purpose of this policy, a Vice President (VP) or Department Head is considered to be any of the following: the VP of Academic Affairs, the VP of Enrollment Management Services, the VP of Institutional Advancement, the VP of Student Affairs, the Executive VP, the Assistant to the President for Administration, Assistant to President for Advancement, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief of University Police and the Chief Information Officer. 


3.2 The Monthly Allowable Value is the maximum dollar amount approved by the College monthly, for each cell phone account. The amount varies depending on the users authorized plan. Any expenses over this amount should be reimbursed by the user or written justification submitted to the Business Compliance Office explaining the business purpose related to the overage.




  1. Assigned telephones are to be used for official business-related activities. Personal use of an assigned unit shall be occasional, incidental, or for emergencies.
  2. The responsibility for an assigned telephone cannot be transferred to another employee. When an employee transfers or terminates employment, the Vice President or Department Head must provide this information to Telecommunications for inventory purposes and to the Business Compliance Office for billing purposes.
  3. Desk telephones will be limited to calling on campus and to local and regional areas - currently area codes 516, 631, 718, 212, 646 and 914. Long distance calling will be limited to desk telephones designated by the Vice Presidents or Department Heads. Approval for long distance on individual desk telephones can be requested in writing by the Vice Presidents or Department Heads to the Chief Financial Officer.



  1. If requested, a monthly usage bill will be provided by the Business Compliance Office to the Vice Presidents or Department Heads for telephones assigned to their departments for their review.
  2. Each month both long distance and local usage bills will be reviewed by the Business Compliance Office for excessive usage or calls not normally performed during normal business operations. Should a questionable call be discovered, the invoice will be forwarded to the Vice President or Department Head of that department for review and further action with the appropriate employee(s).
  3. The employee will review the monthly usage bill and must reimburse the College for personal calls. Employee payments (check or money orders) for personal calls should be made payable to SUNY College at Old Westbury.
  4. After the employee reviews the bill, he or she should return it to the Vice President or Department Head, along with payment for personal usage. The Vice President or Department Head should perform a reasonableness review of each employee’s submission and justification for the excess charges and then return the entire monthly bill and employee’s payments to the Business Compliance Office. Should the charges not be the employee’s, that fact must be reported to the Business Compliance Office (in writing) for further investigation.



  1. The assignment of cell phones is done by the Chief Financial Officer after approval by the President. Assignments will be made at the Director’s level and above. Other individuals may be assigned a cell phone based upon a demonstrated need and adequate justification. The Chief Financial Officer or designee must review the propriety of the assignment of all cell phones at least every two years.
  2. Employees that elect to purchase units through the College account with more features (i.e. blackberries) or additional accessories, must reimburse the College for any expenses above the ‘normal’ fee of the standard, issued cell phone.
  3. Each employee assigned a cell phone is responsible for the security and maintenance of the unit, and must immediately report any theft, loss or vandalism of the unit to the Business Compliance Office.
  4. Assigned cell phones are to be used for official business-related activities. Personal use of an assigned unit shall be occasional, incidental or for emergencies.
  5. Each month bills will be reviewed by the Business Compliance Office. Those exceeding the Monthly Allowance Value will be forwarded to the user’s Vice President or Division Head for review and reimbursement by the user or justification as to why the value was exceeded.
  6. The College’s current plan with the cell carrier includes cell phones at no cost to the College. Each employee assigned a cell telephone may select a different unit and a reasonable voice/data plan, however, the employee must reimburse the College for any additional costs above the Maximum Allowable Value and free telephone.



By Executive Order, the Governor of New York State has issued a directive that all New York State employees are prohibited from utilizing a hand-held cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. In this regard, the State University requires its employees to comply with this directive and also encourages employees of the campus-based Foundations and Auxiliary Services Corporation to comply as well.



  1. Business Calls: Employees can charge as a travel expense, all such calls required in the performance of their duties while in an official travel status.
  2. Personal Calls: Employees are limited to two personal calls per day while on official travel status. These calls must be reasonable in length (8 minutes or less) to obtain full reimbursement.
  3. Original receipts which itemize such calls must accompany the travel expense report before reimbursement can be made to the employee.



  1. Employees are not to accept collect calls, except when directed by a supervisor or in actual emergencies.
  2. Telephone calls to “900” numbers or to other mass announcement calls (such as weather or time) are prohibited.
  3. Directory assistance requests are limited to designated departments on a “need to have basis”. Employees should use directories or directory websites to locate telephone numbers. Use of a directory assistance operator to complete the call is prohibited, except in cases of emergency. 
  4. Employees are not to make operator-assisted or automatic-dialed calls for which a fee is charged. Direct dialing is encouraged at all times.



The following authoritative documents were used in the preparation of this policy:

  1. SUNY Item 300 - Purchasing and Contracting (Procurement) Procedures
  2. New York State Accountability, Audit and Internal Control Act



This policy was reviewed by the College’s Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Assistant to the President for Administration and Executive Vice President prior to approval by the President.