(Approved by the President by authority of the Board of Regents, Standing Orders, Chapter 1)
University facilities, computers, and equipment are to be used to support its teaching, research, service, and administrative functions. University employees may not use state resources (including any person, money, or property) under their official control or direction or in their custody, for personal benefit or gain, or for the benefit or gain of any other individuals or outside organizations. This prohibition does not apply to the use of state resources that are reasonably related to the conduct of official state duties or the use of resources that promote organizational effectiveness or enhance job-related skills and do not interfere with the employee's performance of official state duties.
Examples of uses consistent with the University's mission and reasonably related to the conduct of official state duties or promotion of organizational effectiveness or enhancement of job-related skills include but are not limited to the following:
Occasional limited personal use of University facilities, computers, and equipment, including email and Internet access, is permitted only if all five of the following conditions are met (per WAC 292110010):
The following are examples of permissible personal use of facilities, computers, and equipment if the use meets the conditions above:
University employees may make independent assessments, consistent with this policy, of the permissibility of the use of University facilities, computers and equipment for other than official state job purposes. University employees are encouraged to consult with and seek approval from their supervisors when they are uncertain about the permissibility of a use of University resources, facilities, computers, or equipment. Supervisors at all times retain discretion to restrict uses of state resources, facilities, computers, and equipment in response to concerns regarding an employee's work performance or use of University facilities, computers, and equipment that exceeds the permissible uses outlined in this policy.
In making their decisions to make personal use of University computers and equipment, employees are reminded that there should be no expectation of privacy with regard to the use of University communication technologies (e.g., email, facsimile transmissions, voicemail, and websites visited). For example, communications resulting from University computers and equipment may be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, in litigation involving the University, or for audit purposes.
University policy permits faculty, librarians, and academic personnel to engage in outside professional work, subject to the specified limits (Executive Order No. 57). Professional and classified staff may engage in outside work activity as well, provided such activity does not intrude into their University obligations and job performance or conflict with the proper discharge of their official duties (Administrative Policy Statement 47.3).
The use of University resources including facilities, computers, and equipment for the conduct of outside work is strictly prohibited, except as allowed in Section 3.c below for approved outside work by University Research Employees. Using University property for private financial gain may be a misappropriation of state funds, a violation of the state's ethics law, and could enable state employees to compete unfairly with private businesses. Activities that are considered University service rather than outside work, but nonetheless may result in the award of an honorarium to the employee, are not subject to the prohibition on the use of University resources.
University resources, including facilities, computers, and equipment, may not be used for the following purposes:
In addition, University resources, including facilities, computers, and equipment, may not be used in any manner that is in violation of University, state, or federal laws, rules, or policies, or to violate the rights of any third party.
Examples of restrictions on the use of University resources, facilities, computers, and equipment include but are not limited to the following:
The University does possess unique laboratory or other equipment or facilities, which, by their very nature, should be available to private businesses for testing or examining proprietary products. When such situations arise, authorization for the usage must be approved through normal departmental processes (see Administrative Policy Statement 59.5). The fair rental value of the facilities, computers, and equipment requested, including costs and overhead, must be established by the dean or vice president.
In order to encourage the ethical transfer of technology for the economic benefit of the state of Washington, the Washington Legislature enacted 2005 Wash. Laws Ch. 106 ("2005 Ethics Act Amendment"), which amended the Washington State Ethics in Public Service Act ("Ethics Act") to allow the University to develop, adopt, and implement, upon approval by the Governor, administrative processes that apply in place of the obligations imposed on universities and University Research Employees under specified sections of the Ethics Act. This policy on the Personal Use of University Facilities, Computers, and Equipment by University Employees has been adopted by the University and approved by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 Ethics Act Amendment codified at RCW 42.52.220(1) and 42.52.360 (2)(c).
Notwithstanding Section 3.a of this policy, RCW 42.52.360 (2)(c) allows the University to permit acceptable de minimis uses of University facilities and other resources by University Research Employees for the purpose of conducting outside work activities that are related to their research and technology transfer, or are incidental thereto. The Ethics Act recognizes that limited use of University resources by University Research Employees for outside work purposes does not undermine public trust and confidence and can advance the mission of the University. This policy section clarifies and provides guidelines regarding what limited uses are permitted.
"University Research Employee" has the meaning stated in RCW 42.52.010(21) and as further interpreted under the applicable University policies:
University Research Employees may use their personally assigned University resources (such as offices, telephones, and computers) as well as email accounts, general University computer networks, Internet connections, and the library to conduct outside work activities that are related to their research and technology transfer, or are incidental thereto, subject to the following conditions:
The following are examples of limited uses of University resources for approved outside work by University Research Employees that are permitted under Section 3 of this policy if reasonable in duration, frequency, and impact on University business operations:
The following are examples of uses of University resources for outside work by University Research Employees that are not permitted under Section 3 of this policy:
University employees are directed to Administrative Policy Statement 47.10, "Policy on Financial Irregularities and Other Related Illegal Acts," with regard to their obligation to report misuse of University resources, facilities, computers, and equipment. Employees who violate published University policies regarding the personal use of University resources, facilities, computers, and equipment, or policies regarding outside work and conflict of interest are subject to appropriate disciplinary or corrective action, including dismissal.
The state Executive Ethics Board has the authority to investigate allegations of improper use of state resources (per RCW 42.52.360), and it is charged with enforcing laws and rules prohibiting state workers from improperly using state resources. The Executive Ethics Board's determinations and actions are independent of any disciplinary or corrective action taken by the University.
For additional information and clarification on the regulation of the use of state resources, University employees are directed to the Executive Ethics Board website and the Ethics Training material on the UW Internal Audit website.
May 1998; April 14, 2003; April 16, 2004; December 14, 2006; November 4, 2009; May 2, 2011.