Section 1000: Campus Policy

Effective: July 1, 2006
Revised: April 2016
Review Date: April 2018
Responsible Person: Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Mobile Communications Devices allow Montana State University – Northern employees to be productive when away from the office and are an essential tool for conducting Montana State University – Northern business. This policy will allow for the continued use of Mobile Communications Devices at Montana State University – Northern and keep Montana State University – Northern in compliance with current State and Federal regulations.

This policy allows Montana State University - Northern to meet IRS regulations and its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the State of Montana, by providing guidelines for the use of mobile communications devices for University business purposes.


Mobile Communication Devices include cellular telephones ("cell phones" or "mobile phones", and including cell phones with two-way "push-to-talk" communication capability), smartphone devices, tablet devices, and any other device that enables mobile electronic communication and has associated service plan costs.


Montana State University - Northern will not own mobile communications devices for the use of individual employees. Employees whose job duties include the frequent need for a mobile communications device may receive extra compensation, in the form of a mobile communications device taxable allowance, to cover business-related costs. Mobile communications devices should not be selected as an alternative to other means of communication -- e.g., land-lines, two way-radio devices -- when such alternatives would provide adequate but less costly service to Montana State University - Northern.


Frequent Use of Mobile Communications Devices for Business Purposes

A. Establishment and Payment of Allowance
If a Montana State University - Northern employee's job duties include the frequent need for a mobile communications device, then the employee is eligible for an allowance to cover mobile communications device expenses. It may be requested using the Allowance Request Form. The request may be made any time during the fiscal year, for the current month and going forward. Allowances cannot be established for prior months.

Regardless of when they are established, allowances will cease at the end of the fiscal year (June 30). New Allowance Request Forms must be sent to Montana State University - Northern Business Services to continue the allowance, or to establish any new allowances. Business Services will notify payroll of all allowance changes.

This allowance does not constitute an increase to base pay, and will not be included in the calculation of percentage increases to base pay due to annual raises, job upgrades, etc.

B. Determination of Dollar Amount of Allowance
The dollar amount of the mobile communications device allowance should cover the employee's projected business-related expenses only. In no case shall the amount exceed the cost of the employee's monthly mobile communications device plan. Cost of basic equipment, and the portion of the employee's mobile communications device use related to business, should be considered. Upgrades to basic equipment (special cosmetic or technical features, etc.), or expected mobile communications device use unrelated to business, cannot be considered. Determination of the dollar amount of the allowance is made at the department level prior to submitting a request for a mobile communications device allowance.

The monthly allowance must be within the guidelines and dollar limits listed on the form.

C. Use of Device
The employee must retain an active mobile communications device contract as long as a mobile communications device allowance is in place. Because the employee owns the mobile communications device personally, and the allowance provided is taxable income, the employee may use the device for both business and personal purposes, as needed. The employee may, at his or her own expense, add extra services or equipment features, as desired.

Use of the device in any manner contrary to local, state, or federal laws will constitute misuse, and will result in immediate termination of the mobile communications device allowance.

D. Documentation and Review Requirements
A copy of the Allowance Request Form, and of the employee's related mobile communications device contract, must be kept on file in the employee's University department. Department files are subject to audit at any time by MSU Internal Audit or external auditors engaged by the state or federal government.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the employee is responsible for providing to his/her supervisor evidence (a page from the most recent bill or credit card statement, for example) to document that the employee still has the device.

The dean, director, or department head is responsible for an annual review of employee business-related mobile-device use, to determine if existing mobile communications device allowances should be continued as-is, changed, or discontinued.