Telephone Use

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University Policy Number 2204

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I. SCOPE

This policy applies to all university faculty and staff, including wage employees and contract employees, who have access to the university telephone system and/or who have been issued a university cellular telephone.

II. POLICY STATEMENT

George Mason University provides access to telephones to all faculty and staff, including wage and contract employees.  The University telephone system is available to conduct university business.  Abuse of the university telephone system, including but not limited to charging personal long distance calls to the university, conducting business related to outside employment or business ownership, making or receiving excessive personal calls, and disclosing confidential information over the phone may result in disciplinary action, including termination.

As a general rule, faculty and staff are discouraged from making or receiving personal telephone calls through the university’s telephone system or using university cellular telephones.  The university recognizes that under certain circumstances, an employee will need to make or receive a telephone call of a personal nature from a business phone.  Those calls must be held to a minimum in both time and number.  When an employee lives outside the immediate area and a personal call results in a charge being assessed to the department, established procedures should be followed to reimburse the university for the cost of the call(s).  Departments are assessed for local calls as well.  However, because the fee is substantially lower than that assessed for long distance calls, it is normally not cost effective to pursue reimbursement.

University Calling Cards may be issued to faculty and staff who need to make official long distance calls when they are away from their office.  Such cards are not to be used for personal telephone calls.

At least one person should be available in a department during all normal work hours to speak to a caller who needs immediate assistance or who does not want to leave a voice message.  Department voice mail messages should avoid long menus and should provide for a “zero out” option to allow callers to get help at any point in the call.

III. DEFINITIONS

a. Broadcast Announcement: A time-sensitive urgent message placed on the voice mailbox system that pertains to the majority of the faculty and staff and/or residential student body and for which no other method would provide adequate distribution.  The Manager of Telecommunications Administration must approve all broadcast announcements for employees.  The Director or Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life must approve messages for students.

b. Collect Call: A call received where the caller is requesting that the university be charged for the call.  These calls may not be accepted, except by designated offices.

c. Extended Absence Greeting: A temporary personalized greeting on the voice mailbox system that is used for times away from the office that exceed four hours.  Such messages should include times and dates of absence and return and who to contact in the interim for assistance.

d. Operator Assisted Call: Calls or services requiring the assistance of an outside operator.  Such calls are discouraged.

e. Third Party Billing: A call made from a non-university phone but charged to the university.  Charging external calls to the university is prohibited.  Any such call will be investigated and charged to the originating party.

IV. RESPONSIBILITIES

Department Heads and Managers are responsible for determining the level and type of telephone service each faculty and staff member needs to do his/her work.  Management is also responsible for regularly reviewing monthly telephone billing statements and investigating odd calling patterns, unexpected charges or unusual frequency of numbers called.  Department heads and managers will direct reimbursement of charges for personal calls and consult with Human Resources regarding potential disciplinary action.

Faculty and Staff are responsible for informing supervisors of any regular need to make personal calls in connection with family care situations. They are also responsible for timely reimbursement of charges for personal long distance calls.  If issued a university cellular telephone, the faculty or staff member must read and sign the cellular telephone agreement.

The Manager of Telecommunications Administration is responsible for obtaining and maintaining a variety of cellular telephone service plans to meet the diverse needs of the university workforce and for managing distribution and collection of cellular telephones.  The manager is also responsible for approving all broadcast messages placed on the university voice mailbox system.  The manager assures that telephone billing statements are available on a timely basis for department review.  Sample scripts for voice mail and training in telephone use are to be available through the Manager of Telecommunications Administration.

V. COMPLIANCE

Department heads and managers who identify problems with telephone billing or faculty/staff telephone use will consult with the Manager of Telecommunications Administration to review and resolve concerns.

VI. EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPROVAL

This policy is effective September 16, 2002.  This policy shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually to become effective at the beginning of the university’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.

Approved:

_/S______________________
Maurice W. Scherrens
Senior Vice President

_/S_______________________
Peter N. Stearns
Provost

Date approved: September 24, 2002