The University of ArizonaThe University of Arizona
Financial Policies & ProceduresFinancial Policies & Procedures

9.17 Communication Service Plans


Purpose:These procedures have been developed to provide guidelines to departments for the purchase and charges for supplemental communication plans with service providers external to the University. These plans include mobile phones, pagers, data lines, and internet service providers.  
    Policy Owner:Financial Management

    1. Approval and Authorization: It is the responsibility of the dean, director, or department head to establish that a compelling University purpose exists for supplemental communication service plans (e.g., it enhances work performance, increases efficiency, etc.) and that the contract is established with a reputable vendor. A list of State Contract vendors is available on the Procurement and Contracting Services website.
      NOTE: The use of calling cards or prepaid phone service should not be authorized because their use for university business purposes cannot be substantiated, and therefore, reimbursement of calling cards or prepaid phone service cannot be allowed.
    2. Responsibility and Accountability:
      1. When communication service plans are established, departments are encouraged to require that individuals using the service sign an agreement clarifying an understanding regarding responsible use of the plan and the departmental policy regarding reimbursement. A sample form is available.  These agreements should be maintained in department personnel files.
      2. If equipment is lost or damaged, the department, at its discretion, may require the employee to pay for the replacement equipment.
      3. If any equipment is purchased with University funds (e.g., mobile phones, high-speed modems, peripheral equipment), it is the property of the University and must be turned in to the department when the employee terminates or is transferred.
      4. The department should ensure that its checklist for terminating employees includes closing any active service plans, or transferring such plans to another eligible employee.
    3. Personal Use of Communication Services: Personal use of any University property, including mobile phones, pagers and equipment provided for internet access, is not allowed unless the administrator responsible for the property specifically permits such use. See Human Resources Policy 414.0. The administrator may allow occasional and incidental use if the personal use does not create additional costs for the University.
      Departmental administrators are responsible for monitoring the use of the communication services. If an employee misuses the privilege, the department head may revoke their use immediately.
    4. Selection of a Service Plan:  Procurement and Contracting Services will assist the department in the selection of appropriate communication service plans with one of the State Contract vendors. Department administrators are encouraged to select the most economical service plan given the anticipated business usage, and to limit agreements to one year.
      NOTE: High speed internet service plans often require the use of a special modem that can either be leased from the service provider or purchased separately. Generally, the one-time purchase of the modem is less expensive, and this option should be chosen if it results in a lower cost to the University.
    5. Funding: Departments must ensure that they have available budget balance to fund anticipated charges for the term of the agreement (monthly charges as well as cost to purchase and activate the equipment.
      Restrictions apply on sponsored project funds. Charges to grants and contracts for mobile phones are allowable only in unusual circumstances, where supplemental communications equipment and agreements are required for the technical scope of work, is used for no other purpose, and are not otherwise prohibited by the terms of the sponsored agreement.
    6. Billing: The account must be established in the name of the University of Arizona. The preferred payment method is the University Purchasing Card. Departments that do not have a Purchasing Card to use for billing may contact Procurement and Contracting Services to set up an account. If Purchasing Card billing is not used, invoices must be reviewed and approved by the department business office and sent to Accounts Payable for payment.
      If the service provider will not bill the University of Arizona directly, but combines the billing with a personal telephone or cable bill, the employee must pay the provider and seek reimbursement through Accounts Payable in accordance with Policy 9.10, Requisitions/Reimbursements.
      NOTE: All rebates are property of the University and must be made payable to the University of Arizona.
    7. Review of Service Plans: Departments should review service agreements at least once a year to ensure that the plan chosen continues to provide the most economical service.
    8. Review of Business Use: Departments should review requirements at least once a year to ensure that a compelling University purpose continues to exist for each mobile phone.
    9. Audits and Reviews of Communication Service Plans and Charges: The University has the right to audit or review communication service plans and charges at any time. See Section 6.10, Account Management
    10. Communication Service Plan (CSP) Allowance: CSP Allowances are not permitted on Sponsored Project Accounts as they are considered unallowable under Circular A-21. Departments are permitted to provide a cash allowance in lieu of purchasing and maintaining a communication service plan in the name of the University. The amount of the cash allowance may or may not be taxable income to the recipient and is intended to offset the cost of maintaining a personal communication service plan for the benefit of the University. To be nontaxable, the department must have a process or procedure in place that determines and documents the business utilization of the personal cell phone, then makes the CSP allowance match the allocated business use cost of the plan. The amount of the CSP allowance is at the discretion of the departments; however it should not exceed the cost of providing a CSP in the name of the University.

      Supporting documentation and review of allowances: Departments are not required to review the employee’s cell phone expenses, but should review their decision to provide the allowance and the amount of the allowance at least annually based on their fiduciary responsibility to manage University resources in an efficient and effective manner. When granting the CSP Allowance, the department should document the business purpose and need for the allowance. This can be accomplished by completing the Communication Service Plan Allowance Form.

      Payment of CSP Allowance: To start payment of a CSP Allowance, the department must process a Payment Request in UAccess Employee. The department will need to determine whether the payment is nontaxable or taxable based on the business use of the employee's personal cell phone. The payment is considered to be additional compensation and is subject to Employee Related Expense (ERE) matching, however the allowance is not part of the employee’s base salary.

    Mobile Phones - Additional Requirements

    1. Business Use of Personal Phones: If the employee wishes to use a mobile phone primarily for personal use, the employee should purchase a phone in their name. If the employee is using the phone primarily for their convenience, rather than a compelling business purpose, then business use is not reimbursable. However, if circumstances require the individual to occasionally use a personal phone for a compelling business purpose, then the business portion may be reimbursed if the business portion causes the bill to exceed the monthly airtime charges.

      EXAMPLE 1: If the monthly agreement provides 200 minutes for a fixed price, and the employee uses 100 minutes for personal use, and 50 minutes for a compelling business purpose, no reimbursement is allowed, because the employee would have paid the full monthly charge whether or not there was business use on the phone.

      EXAMPLE 2: If the monthly agreement provides 200 minutes for a fixed price, and the employee uses 150 minutes for personal use, and 100 minutes for a compelling business purpose, reimbursement for the 50 minutes that exceed the base plan minutes is allowed, because the business use resulted in higher airtime charges on the phone.

      For employee reimbursement instructions, see Section 9.10, Requisitions/Reimbursements.