Read Case 2 (pages 155-156 of the 6th edition; page 282 of the 7th edition) regarding telephone usage at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Do you think personal use of telephones (including long-distance) by employees is that big of a deal? Why or why not? Do you have the same opinion about personal use of agency vehicles and equipment?
Discussion Board responses must be at least two paragraphs in length, and responses to at least two colleagues must be at least one paragraph in length. Discussion Board responses should be substantive and not just “I agree with you” or “You make a good point there.”
A random check of long-distance telephone calls at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducted by the agency’s inspector general, indicated that some 30 percent were personal calls (though charged to the government). The cost of the calls was estimated at $73,000 for the sample and, by extrapolation, $290,000 for the agency as a whole. Many calls were placed to the homes of employees or their relatives; others were calls to prerecorded messages, such as time and temperature, horoscopes, and financial information. Penalties for unauthorized use of federal telephone lines include fines, suspension, and dismissal.
Why do you think employees at HUD, and presumably elsewhere, misuse official telephone lines? What, if anything, should be done to limit such excesses? How do you respond to employees who argue that using agency telephone lines for personal business is necessary from time to time? What about those who argue that telephone use is an essential benefit the organization should provide? If you crack down on unauthorized calls, what will happen to morale in the agency?
To put the case in a more intense, real-world setting, imagine that you are secretary of Housing and Urban Development. You have just finished testifying at a congressional hearing. On your way out the door, a senator corners you and waves a copy of the inspector general’s report in your face, saying, “This is an outrage! These people are stealing from the public, and you’ve been letting it happen! I want some action on this right away!” Next, a reporter, who has seen the report and heard the exchange with the senator, shoves a microphone in your face and asks, “Well, what are you going to do?” What is your response, both immediately and over the next several days?
Denhardt, Robert B., Janet Denhardt, Tara Blanc. Public Administration: An Action Orientation, 7th Edition. Cengage Learning, 01/2013. VitalBook file.