Purchase of Mobile Communications Equipment and Related Service Plans


To establish the limited circumstances in which campus units may purchase mobile communications equipment and related service plans for employees.


All university employees and all campus units.


Office of the Chancellor


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign does not provide stipends or expense reimbursements to employees for business use of personally-owned mobile communications equipment or related service plans, including voice, text, and data plans. University units also may not purchase mobile communications equipment and/or related service plans, including voice, text, and data plans, for business or personal use by individual employees, except in special situations, as outlined below.

Special Situations:

  1. Departmentally-Owned Cell Phones – Certain units may have special needs that justify departmental ownership of cell phones for temporary assignment to or rotation among employees.  Examples of this situation may include on-call medical staff, delivery/shuttle drivers, security, public safety and disaster preparedness, and facilities management staff.  Departments may incur expenses for cell phones in these situations.  Departmentally-owned cell phones are strictly for business use only and cannot be used for personal use.
  2. Research – When cell phone expenses are approved as allowable costs and included in an externally funded grant budget, those expenses may be charged to the grant in accordance with sponsor requirements and University policies governing sponsored projects. Exceptions to allow such expenses on internally funded grant projects may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Pagers – Departments that use pagers for communication needs may cover the cost for pagers when there is a business need through standard procurement process.
  4. International Expenses – Units may request reimbursement through the TEM system for travel associated expenses incurred for international cell phone or data plans required for the conduct of official business while in travel status. Units should not approve reimbursements when an employee’s base cell phone plan includes international communications charges.
  5. Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) Coaches – As a matter of best practice for purposes of monitoring compliance with NCAA rules, all head and assistant coaches in the DIA at each university are required to use University-issued phones.
  6. This policy will be applied to union-represented employees through the collective bargaining process.


With approval by the college-level chief executive (deans, vice chancellors, or vice/associate provosts) and Provost/Chancellor, in special situations as described above, university units may purchase mobile communication equipment, including pagers, and related service plans for individual employees or groups of employees to share for university business purposes. The university unit must retain documentation regarding the approval for all individual and shared group equipment purchases.

To purchase mobile communications equipment and/or related service plans for individual employee or shared group for instances that qualify under the Special Situations section above:

  1. Identify and request equipment or services that meet business needs in the most economical fashion;
  2. Obtain approval from the college-level executive for the purchase using the Exception Request Form. Retain documentation regarding the approval.
  3. Submit the Exception Request Form with details supporting the business need for the purchase, to provostbudget@illinois.edu for review.
  4. If approval is obtained, work through the Purchasing Office (urbanapurchasing@uillinois.edu) to make the purchase.
  5. Monitor use of individual and/or shared equipment and related services to determine that use is solely for university business purposes.

For information regarding reimbursement of expenses incurred for mobile communications and related service plans while in travel status on university business, see OBFS Business and Financial Policies and Procedures, Section 8: Payments and Reimbursements, Request Reimbursement for Domestic or International Employee Travel and Business Meals.


The requirements for obtaining an exception to this policy are set forth in the Special Situations section above.

Departments and colleges are not allowed to establish policies that differ from the university system policy 8.7, Cell Phone & Data Plan Business Expenses.



Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Budget and Resource Planning, provostbudget@illinois.edu.