Policy Number: 853

Policy Suffix:

I. General Policy

Rice University does not provide or purchase mobile communications devices or plans for employees. Only Qualified Employees, as outlined in this policy, may be considered eligible for a monthly stipend through the University payroll process to offset (but not completely cover) associated costs of a mobile communications related plan as it relates to the employee’s role at the university. This policy applies to all employees of the university.

II. Definitions, Roles and Responsibilities

Qualified employees: Employees who are considered qualified must be in a position where their job functions require them to be on call or available 24x7x365 to support critical services. Generally, only employees in positions where the position description indicates that the use of a personal cell phone is required as part of the job are eligible.

Mobile communications devices: Mobile communications devices for the purposes of this policy are defined as cellular telephones; smart phones; iPads, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other tablet type devices that require a subscription service for data (note that this policy does not prohibit use of Rice funds to purchase tablets or iPads used for Rice purposes so long as a data subscription is not required). Additionally, the following fall under ancillary devices for this policy: peripheral equipment such as batteries, hands-free devices; cases; carrying devices; chargers; data cabling; home internet phones; data plans for iPads; air cards / hot spot cards.

Mobile communications plans: Any voice, text, or data plan that would be accompanied with any physical mobile communications device.

Sponsoring department: The home department or office of the employee. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring department to recommend employee eligibility and to fund the stipend from its operating budget.

Vice President, Vice Provost, Dean or Director: all request for stipends must be initiated by the supervisor or department head to ensure job relevance with final approval from the vice president, vice provost, dean or director.

Human Resources: maintains job descriptions to ensure that they are consistent with university policies and standards.

III. Elaboration of Policy

  1. It is commonly accepted that nearly all Rice University employees have personally-owned mobile communications devices and plans, and that employees use these devices for both personal and professional needs. This policy lays out the criteria by which a Rice University employee may be considered a qualified employee for purposes of receiving a monthly stipend toward the costs of their mobile communications plan.
  2. Mobile devices that are used to access university data must fully comply with Policy 808 (Protection of University Data and Information) including requirements on password protection, encryption, travel, and destruction of data.
  3. Qualified employees will not be reimbursed for the physical mobile communications device(s) that they choose to purchase. The University does not generally place restrictions on the service provider or service plan that a qualified employee chooses (unless such restrictions are imposed by a relevant grant, contract, or government restriction).
  4. The university-wide stipend level is $50 per month paid through payroll as a nontaxable stipend for business purposes to cover data usages as long as the individual remains an eligible employee at Rice University. The amount will be reviewed annually.
  5. Mobile communications devices or plans may not be paid by a University PCard. Expenses associated with any mobile communications and device charges will not be paid by the Concur expense report or through Procure to Pay.
  6. Mobile communications devices are the property of the employee; thus, it is the employee’s responsibility for any loss, theft, or damage. Additionally, the mobile communications contract that an employee enters into with a service provider is the responsibility of the employee, regardless of whether or not they are receiving a stipend from the University. The employee is responsible for complying with all contract terms, including payment to the service provider.

IV. Exemptions Related to Devices

  1. Rice University will consider the case of exemptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis, following the below criteria:
    • The University may purchase a mobile communications device and accompanying plan for members of Emergency Personnel, such as the Police Chief and Director of Crisis Management. These devices and plans would be Rice-owned and paid fully by Rice; and would not be intended for any personal use. It is expected that the employee would also have a phone for personal use.
    • Departments, with approval of their respective Vice President, Vice Provost, Dean or Director may request temporary usage of an inventory of on-call devices, MiFi internet devices, or shared devices that is managed and owned by the Office of Information Technology.
      • At no point may these devices be used for personal business.
      • It is the responsibility of the Vice President, Vice Provost, Dean, or Director to approve the request’s business purpose case prior to submitting the request to the Office of Information Technology.

V. Responsible official and other key officers

Responsible Officer: Executive Vice President for Operations, Finance, & Support

Key offices to contact regarding the policy and implementation

Controller’s Office; Information Technology; Information Security Office


David W. Leebron, President

Policy History

Issued: November 18, 2020

Clerical Change: March 4, 2024 (updated EVP title); August 15, 2023 (updated EVP title); January 19, 2023 (updated VP title); December 14, 2020 (clarified device definition related to iPads)