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Where do your tax dollars go?- $ 75 million for cell phones (translated from french)
by Mathieu Turbide - le Journal de Montréal - Monday, March 28, 2011

The federal government has spent more than $75 million last year, to provide cell phones or BlackBerrys to its staff, according to documents obtained by le Journal de Montréal newspaper.

From 2007 to 2011, the federal government paid almost $ 300 million in cell phone charges for its employees.

The situation was even worse before 2007, when most of the 20 departments and about 200 state agencies negotiated contracts with cellular service their separate ways.

Result: some departments were paying up to $500 per unit and more than $1,000 per year for services.

"Before 2004, each department was doing its purchase of cellular services on an individual basis," said Nathalie Bétoté Akwa, Advisor Media Relations for the Department of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC).

In 2004 a pilot project was implemented for a single service contract for nine departments. The contract was renegotiated in 2007 and several other departments have joined the group.

A new mega contract

But as the bill was still very high (about $300 million for four years), the government has negotiated a new agreement with three major telephony in the country (Rogers, Bell and Telus) to provide telephones to staff than 130 departments and agencies. The new contract, signed last December, has just come into force on the 26th of February.

It was Rogers who won the largest share of the cake and provide priority phones and BlackBerrys to staff. Ottawa will contribute $117 million to Rogers over the next four years, $45 million to Bell and almost $34 million to Telus.

"Rogers has been designated as the primary provider, Bell Mobility will be the secondary supplier and Telus will be the third largest supplier. Thus, only the orders that the primary provider can not answer will be offered to second and third largest supplier, "said Bill Badets, spokesman for the Department of PWGSC.

BlackBerry: less expensive

Badets said the new contract will save the government nearly $25 million per year, thanks to reduced costs for the use of BlackBerry.

"We have achieved very favorable rates relative to the BlackBerry service under contract for 2007 and for new contracts, these rates are even lower, below the cost of cellular service type," he said.

The iPhone, Apple's popular smartphone, is excluded from federal government contracts.

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