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Cellular Phone Policies

This page provides information and resources on cell phone usage policies for local government staff and elected officials, including sample policies.

It is part of MRSC's series on Telecommunications.


There are two primary patterns for allowing government employees to utilize cellular phones. One option is for the government to purchase cellular phones and then allow its employees to make business related calls as outlined in a policy on use of cellular phones. The second is for the employee to purchase the cellular phones and request reimbursement for the business calls.

If the first option is followed and the government purchases and owns the phones, then the city or county should adopt some usage policies. There are examples of such usage policies below.

If the second option is followed and the employee purchases the cellular phone, then it is necessary to develop an appropriate agreement between the government and the employee regarding use of the phone. Several such sample personal cellular phone agreements are included below. These agreements follow a form which has been approved by the Office of the State Auditor and the Office of the Attorney General.

Where employers provide cell phones to their employees or where employers reimburse employees for business use of their personal cell phones, tax-free treatment is available without burdensome recordkeeping requirements. This rule, however, does not apply to the provision of cell phones or reimbursement for cell-phone use that is not primarily business related, as such arrangements are generally taxable. See IR 2011-93, issued by the Internal Revenue Service September 14, 2011.

The following list of resources contains information and sample policies that a local government could adopt in order to utilize cellular phones in a manner that will satisfy legal considerations and the Office of the State Auditor's concerns.

Examples of Policies

The following are some of the more recent examples of local policies for the use of cellular telephones by city, town and county employees. The concerns that are behind the policies are the same regardless of the form or size of government that is involved; accordingly, a county could use a city policy for the development of its policy, as could a city pattern its policy after a county's.

City Policies

County Policies

Examples of Agreement Forms

Recommended Resources

The following articles set out the considerations that should be made in developing guidelines for the use of cellular phones by government employees.

Last Modified: August 27, 2019