Stipend for Business Use of Wireless Communication Devices

I.                   Scope  

This policy applies to all University faculty and staff whose responsibilities require the use of voice and/or text capable wireless communication devices for business purposes. This may include employees who are required to:

  • receive or initiate communication in emergency situations;
  • be on call and/or available around the clock;
  • access University data off-campus to manage job responsibilities;
  • be accessible during non-business hours and/or at remote locations.

II.                Policy Statement

George Mason University (University) recognizes that some faculty and staff utilize wireless communication devices to perform specific job responsibilities.  Appropriate business use of such equipment supports efficient, cost effective operations and improves service delivery.

University Owned Devices

Mason does not routinely issue or provide university-owned wireless communication devices and necessary services for individual employees.

Units may utilize Mason owned wireless communication devices and use university funds to purchase necessary accessories when a single device is shared by several staff members as is the case for units that require an on-call contact number. Staff with the following responsibilities may utilize Mason owned wireless communication devices and use university funds to purchase necessary accessories:

-positions that require communication with sensitive or volatile populations, such as police officers, psychological counselors or ICA coaches responsible for recruiting activities.

Employee Owned Devices

An employee, whose supervisor certifies that a demonstrated business need  exists for a voice capable wireless communication device, may receive a stipend equal to or less than the amount of the monthly charges for voice and data services and any recurring, itemized equipment/line charges related to the designated cellular telephone number up to a maximum of $45 per month. (See the definitions page for the approval process.) Note: In no case will the stipend exceed the monthly amount paid by the employee for voice and data services and any recurring, itemized equipment/line charges related to the designated cellular telephone number. Eligibility for a wireless communication device stipend is determined by each unit based on budget availability and on a position by position basis. The supervisor is required to certify business need and confirm the amount of the employee’s monthly personal plan charge for voice and data services (and text services for designated employees) by reviewing a monthly bill dated within 45 days of the request and annually, thereafter. At a maximum rate of $45 per month, the stipend is not subject to tax. Mason will not provide funding for the purchase or replacement of a personal wireless communication device. In addition, employees receiving a stipend may not use State funds to purchase any cellular-related accessories. Stipends will not be processed retroactively.

A faculty or staff member who uses a wireless communication device when traveling internationally for Mason business should seek approval for international coverage from his/her Supervisor and then request data and/or a text plan from his/her wireless communication provider for the duration of the trip. The costs for the international service should then be included on the Travel Reimbursement Voucher and the appropriate monthly statement(s) should be attached.  Please note that many plans now include international coverage at no additional cost.

Charges associated with wireless communication devices are not allowable on federally sponsored funds unless an exception is authorized due to the unique nature of the project.

A password or pin is required on any wireless communication device that is covered by this stipend.

Email, text or voice messages or records related to university business are subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Under the statute, storage and retrieval of records is an individual responsibility. Use of Mason email for university business is strongly encouraged so that data storage and retrieval responsibility is facilitated by the university. The employee is responsible for retrieving from his/her wireless carrier any non-Mason email account records, text messages or telephone records related to a subpoena or FOIA request. Personal records are those entirely and totally unrelated to public business, and as such are not records of university business.

Storage of highly sensitive data on wireless communication devices is prohibited.

III.             Definitions

Wireless communication devices may be, but are not limited to, cellular phones, smartphones or other wireless telecommunication devices except tablets that have voice, and in some cases data, capabilities with a monthly fee.

IV.              Compliance

A. Department Head is responsible for reviewing and approving initial requests for wireless communication device stipends, overseeing the use of wireless communication devices in his/her unit and for ensuring an annual review of continued need is done by supervisors.

B. Supervisor  is responsible for ensuring that a business need exists in all cases where a wireless communication device stipend is available to an employee. The Supervisor must certify that he/she reviewed the employee’s monthly bill for the designated mobile telephone number at the time of the initial stipend request. The Supervisor is also responsible for reviewing and certifying the continued business need of existing stipends for wireless communication devices annually and notifying Human Resources if the stipend should be discontinued. Refer to the Annual Wireless Device Stipend Review for guidance and instruction. The stipend amount will be the amount of monthly charges for voice services, text and/or data if needed for business, taxes and may include equipment/access charges that are itemized on the bill, up to a maximum of $45 per month..

C. User of wireless communication devices is required to password/pin protect the wireless communication device for which a stipend is paid. User is reminded that data, text messages or voice mail related to university business is subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. User is responsible for providing the supervisor with the most recent monthly bill for the designated mobile telephone number on a yearly basis.

D. The Associate Vice President of Research Operations is responsible for approving charges to federally sponsored projects for costs associated with wireless communication devices.

V.                 Forms

Wireless Communication Device Stipend Agreement

VI.              Dates:

1. Effective Date:   

This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and Provost.

2. Date of Most Recent Review:


 VII.           Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed annually.

VIII.        Signatures


______/S/__________                         ___3/31/14______

Senior Vice President for                              Date

Administration and Finance


______/S/___________                       ___3/31/14_____

Provost                                                               Date


Revised: March 25, 2015

Revised: August 3, 2017