Michigan State University
Controller's Office

Administration Bldg
426 Auditorium Rd, Rm 305
East Lansing, MI 48824
517 355-5020

SECTION 78: Mobile Communications Used Exclusively for Business Purposes: Expense Procedure Guidelines

Last updated: December 2010

Expense Procedure Guidelines

NOTE: This Policy is for all mobile communications devices and service that are regularly used exclusively for business purposes ("departmental mobile communications"). Departmental mobile communications devices and service contracts are to be employer owned/leased.

Mixed-use (both business and personal use) devices and service contracts are to be employee-owned and are excluded from this policy. See Section 79 for expense guidelines related to mixed-use devices and service.

I. Definitions

Mobile Communications: Includes cell phones (including non-contractual prepaid phones), smartphones, PDA's, Blackberry devices, push to talk phones, mobile broadband devices, Bluetooth headsets, and other wireless handheld/mobile devices which require a service contract for operation.

Departmental mobile communications: mobile communications regularly used exclusively for business purposes.

Regularly used exclusively for business purposes: regularly used only for business calls, business email/web access, etc. In some cases, devices used exclusively for business purposes do not leave campus and/or are turned in at the end of an employee's shift. Infrequent personal uses are permitted, but all such use must be tracked, documented and on file in the department, and reimbursed to the University.

Mixed-use: regularly used for both business and personal purposes. If mobile communications are frequently used for personal purposes, such communications are deemed mixed-use.

II. Policy

In the course of carrying out job responsibilities, employees may have a need for departmental mobile communications. If such a situation exists, expenses for these mobile communications on MSU-owned/leased service and/or equipment are permitted. Simple convenience is not a criterion for such expenses. Expenses may be authorized if at least one of the following criteria is met:

  1. The job function of the employee (during the employee's normal working hours) requires considerable time outside of the assigned office or work area and it is important to the University that the employee is accessible during this time.
  2. The job function of the employee requires them to be accessible outside of scheduled or normal working hours (while at home, out of town, etc.).

NOTE: In certain situations, a department may be required to retain call/usage records for non-IRS audit/compliance purposes. In these cases and with the approval of the Controller, a department is permitted to use Section 78 for mixed-use mobile communications.

III. Departmental Approval

The appropriate Administrator (Chairperson/Director or delegate) or Dean/Assistant Vice President, may authorize expenditures for departmental mobile communications service and/or equipment. As verification of business purpose and authorization, a Departmental Mobile Communications Agreement must be approved by an administrator and maintained on file in the department.

Executive Officers, Vice/Associate Provosts, Assistant Vice Presidents, Non-Academic Directors, and Deans, by virtue of their positions, are deemed to be automatically authorized for such expenditures. An agreement form need not be on file for these employees. However, all terms of this policy must be followed.

IV. Payment

With appropriate need and departmental approval (see section III above), expenses for departmental mobile communications service and/or equipment should be paid by MSU Purchasing Card. Any exceptions must be approved by the Controller.

To the extent there are personal calls/uses, the employee must reimburse the University on a pro-rated basis (including all taxes).

Departmental mobile communications plans with consistent personal use must be converted to an employee-owned/mixed-use plan. See Manual of Business Procedures Section 79.

V. Departmental Records

A copy of the completed Departmental Mobile Communications Agreement must at all times be kept on file in the employee's department.

For every departmental mobile communications plan, the department MUST maintain detailed substantiation records to support both business and non-business usage of the service. Meaning, every monthly statement/bill must be kept in department files and all calls/usage minutes that are to/from non-campus numbers must be substantiated and documented (who was called and for what purpose) as to business or personal use. The department must maintain these records to support the exclusion of the departmental mobile communications use from the employee's wages. Further, these detailed records are subject to internal and external audit, FOIA requests, and any subpoena, if applicable. All personal calls must be reimbursed to MSU as per section IV above.

Important note: mixed-use mobile communications plans do not require the maintenance of such detailed substantiation records as expenses for such plans are paid as taxable employee pay allowances. See Section 79.

The employee's supervisor is responsible for an annual review of the Departmental Mobile Communications Agreement to determine if the plan should be changed or discontinued. The supervisor is to initial and date the bottom of the agreement form as evidence of this annual review. If an employee is terminated, resigns, transfers, or is no longer in need of departmental mobile communications, the employee's supervisor is responsible for notifying the appropriate unit administrator to discontinue the plan.

All departmental mobile communications service contracts are to be between the employer and the service provider. As such, if prior to the end of a service contract, the employer for any reason needs to change or end the service contract, the employer will bear the cost of any associated contract termination fees.

VI. MSU Preferred Vendor

Mobile communications vendor relationships are reviewed periodically by the MSU Purchasing Department. Please consult their Prime Vendors.

VII. Exhibits/Forms: Print pdf format

Departmental Mobile Communications Agreement
(revised November 2010)

(Note: this agreement provides the minimum structure required. Units may create their own agreement provided these minimum points are addressed).

Employee's Name and Title
(please print):_______________________________________

In the course of carrying out job responsibilities, there is a regular need for departmental mobile communications (including cell phones, smartphones, mobile email/web devices, and other wireless/handheld devices which require a service contract for operation). Therefore, the employer will provide (and will therefore own/lease) the mobile communications device and service contract. At least one of the following criteria is met (CIRCLE ONE OR BOTH):

1) The job function of the employee (during the employee's normal working hours) requires considerable time outside of the assigned office or work area, and it is important to the University that the employee is accessible during this time.

2) The job function of the employee requires them to be accessible outside of scheduled or normal working hours (while at home, out of town, etc.).

Amount of monthly service: $__________

If applicable, amount paid for equipment and month/year paid: $__________ __________

If the employee is terminated, resigns, transfers, or is no longer in need of departmental mobile communications, the employee's supervisor is responsible for notifying the appropriate unit administrator to discontinue the plan.

All service contracts are to be between the employer and the service provider. As such, if prior to the end of a service contract, the employer for any reason needs to change or end the service contract, the employer will bear the cost of any associated contract change or termination fees.

The employee's supervisor is responsible for an annual review of the business need for departmental mobile communications allowance to determine if the plan should be changed or discontinued. The supervisor is to initial and date the bottom of this form as evidence of this annual review.

A copy of this completed form must at all times be kept on file in the employee's department.

The use of a cell phone can negatively impact the ability of a driver to safely operate a motor vehicle. Research studies show it is a distraction and can impair the level of concentration needed to drive. For the safety of the driver, vehicle occupants, pedestrians and other drivers, it is important that appropriate precautions be taken if a cell phone must be used while driving.

I have read this Agreement and Manual of Business Procedures Section 78 and I understand that departmental mobile communications preclude frequent personal use. I also understand that it is my responsibility to maintain detailed usage substantiation records in departmental files. Further, I understand that all personal usage must be reimbursed to MSU and that if personal usage becomes regular/frequent, I must convert the mobile communications plan to mixed-use (as per Manual of Business Procedures Section 79).

Employee Signature: ____________________________________Date:______________

Approved:

Unit Administrator Signature: _____________________________Date:______________