AUSTIN, Texas - In a day and age where a smartphone is seemingly always in your hand or in your pocket, the City of Austin is spending more than $88,000 on pagers.
The city adopted a pager system in 1999, deciding it was a reliable way to communicate with employees during emergencies. However, according to a report from the City Auditor’s Office, now they say the city has mismanaged funds and lost the city money.
"The city has not effectively managed pagers, resulting in unnecessary spending and possibly impacting the city’s ability to communicate in an emergency," auditors wrote.
This comes after the report found many city employees don’t use their pagers, or even have one and finds there is not a "strategic way" of knowing if key staff is connected to the system.
The report says some city departments are not effectively managing pager users. Because of this, the city has paid services that aren’t being used or no longer needed. The report shows that in 2020 at least 90 active pager accounts, across 14 departments, were for employees that no longer work for the city and one of those accounts was an ex-employee whose time with the city ended in 2011.
There were also accounts associated with employees that left between 2012 and 2019. The city estimates losing $13,000 from these accounts.
However, for employees, and departments who do use their pagers, it shows that over a 5 month period last year, 16% received more than 1,000 pages. It also found 42% received less than five and 16% didn’t get any messages at all during that time.
To view the full report, click here.