The General Services Administration wants to bar federal workers in this area from calling for sports scores, weather information, the time of day or horoscope recordings as part of its campaign to cut down on personal telephone calls on government phones. If the telephone company and GSA can work out the details, GSA will buy an electronic "flexible route selection machine" for switching centers to block calls made to certain numbers. The government pays for each call made to a non-government number. Its telephone bill for calls made to private numbers in this area is about $300,000 a month for nearly 5 million calls.
"We're moving cautiously to make sure the system doesn't cost more than the savings," said James E. Edwards, a special assistant in GSA's Automated Data and Telecommunications Service. Currently, federal offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Detroit, New York and Milwaukee are prevented from reaching certain numbers. The monitors were installed after another device provided GSA with a list of all the numbers dialed from federal telephones in Chicago in 1979.
"There were a substantial number of calls to time, weather and other such things [that] we felt were unnecessary," Edwards said, adding that the feds have since saved $157,000 a year in Chicago by blocking some numbers.