Vic government's mobile bill blows out

Auditor-General finds room for cutting Vic govt telecoms spending

Victorian government organisations' spending on mobile voice and data services grew by close to 70 per cent from 2008 to 2012, reaching $23.5 million in 2012, according to a report prepared by Victoria's Auditor-General, John Doyle.

In 2011-2012, mobile and fixed-line telco services together cost the state government $53 million. Victoria Police copped the top phone bill with spending of around $6 million, followed by the Department of Human Services, which spent $3.5 million, and the Department of Justice at approximately $3.5 million.

The auditor-general's report, which was tabled in state parliament this morning and investigated Vic Police, DHS and DoJ telco spending, criticised state government agencies for weak central oversight over spending on telecommunications services.

Of the three agencies examined by the auditor-general, none had effective organisation-wide controls to manage telco expenditure.

"Weak central oversight, coupled with highly variable and devolved management arrangements within each agency means that, while there were isolated examples of good practice that produced material savings, it was not evident that these were being consistently applied throughout the organisation," the report states.

Agencies could cut telecommunications costs by eliminating redundant landlines, checking billing from suppliers is accurate, implementing processes to reduce costs incurred by over-the-top use of mobile phones for personal reasons, and "adopting negotiated improvements to rates and services within whole of government contracts".

On average it took the agencies examined in the report two to three months to adopt a nine-month variation within a whole-of-government contract. "This represents potential lost savings to the state of up to $660 000 for mobile services alone across all the public sector agencies to which the contract applies," the report states.

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