(1) Statement of principles. All state employees and officers are responsible for the proper use of state resources, including funds, facilities, tools, property, and their time. This section does not restrict the use of state resources as described in subsections (2) and (3) of this section.
(2) Permitted uses.
(a) Use of state resources for official state purpose. "Official state purpose" includes use of state resources to conduct official duties, activities reasonably related to the conduct of official state duties, activities related to state employment, and activities otherwise allowed by statute. Examples of official state purposes include:
(i) Training and career development approved by the employing agency under RCW 41.06.410
(ii) Membership or participation in professional associations that enhance job-related skills of the state officer or employee, so long as use of state resources for this purpose has been authorized in writing;
(iii) State or agency sponsored health, safety, or diversity fairs;
(iv) Management of or access to state-provided or state-sponsored benefits, including health, deferred compensation, insurance, retirement, and the employee assistance program;
(v) Searching and applying for state jobs, including taking an examination or participating in an interview; and
(vi) Placement of nongovernmental web page links on an agency web site for official state purposes as long as the use does not violate RCW 42.52.180
(b) Agency approved use. An agency head or designee may authorize limited use of agency staff time and resources for the following uses as long as that use is specifically authorized in an agency policy and conforms to that policy:
(i) Supporting, promoting, or soliciting for charitable activities;
(ii) Employee recognition, including birthday, retirement, wedding/baby showers, or other similar celebrations;
(iii) Activities supporting agency organizational effectiveness provided the agency's policy allowing use of state resources for such purposes is approved by the executive ethics board;
(iv) State or intermittent agency sponsored health activities, for example, vaccinations, diabetes screenings, cholesterol screenings; or recording participation in an agency or PEBB sponsored wellness program.
(3) Permitted personal use of state resources. This subsection applies to any use of state resources not included in subsection (2) of this section.
(a) A state officer or employee's use of state resources is de minimis only if each of the following conditions are met:
(i) There is little or no cost to the state;
(ii) Any use is brief;
(iii) Any use occurs infrequently;
(iv) The use does not interfere with the performance of any state officer's or employee's official duties;
(v) The use does not compromise the security or integrity of state property, information systems, or software;
(vi) The use is not for the purpose of conducting an outside business, in furtherance of private employment, or to realize a private financial gain; and
(vii) The use is not for supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for an outside organization or group.
(b) A state officer or employee may use state resources for wellness or combined fund drive activities as long as use conforms with (a) of this subsection or as authorized in state law and rule.
(4) No expectation of privacy. Technologies such as electronic mail, facsimile transmissions, the internet, and voice mail may create an electronic record. This is what separates these from other forms of communication such as a telephone conversation. The ethics rules do not distinguish between the various forms of communication. Electronic records are reproducible and therefore cannot be considered private. Such records may be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, or may be disclosed for audit or legitimate state operational or management purposes.
(5) Reimbursement for personal use. In some limited situations, such as officers or employees working at remote locations, an agency may allow reimbursement for limited personal use of state resources by the state employee or officer.
(6) Agency policies.
Agency policies that are approved by the board qualify for "safe harbor" under WAC 292-120-035
. Nothing in this section is intended to limit the ability of an agency to adopt policies that are more restrictive. However, violation of a more restrictive agency policy by itself will not constitute a violation of RCW 42.52.160
, even if it would constitute a violation of agency policy.
(7) Advisory opinions and frequently asked questions. The executive ethics board publishes advisory opinions interpreting the Ethics in Public Service Act and/or its rules and provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the use of state resources that can be found at www.ethics.wa.gov.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.52.16 [42.52.160], 42.52.360
. WSR 16-03-052, § 292-110-010, filed 1/15/16, effective 4/1/16. Statutory Authority: RCW 42.52.360
(2)(b). WSR 09-16-046, § 292-110-010, filed 7/28/09, effective 8/28/09. Statutory Authority: RCW 42.52.360
(3). WSR 02-07-074, § 292-110-010, filed 3/18/02, effective 4/18/02; WSR 98-08-054, § 292-110-010, filed 3/27/98, effective 4/27/98. Statutory Authority: RCW 42.52.160
(3). WSR 96-01-036, § 292-110-010, filed 12/13/95, effective 1/13/96.]