Use of City Resources
The Ethics Code provides assurances to taxpayers and utility ratepayers that City resources, including funds, property, and staff, are being used for City purposes.
Limited use of communications equipment for personal purposes may be permitted by management, as long as they are within basic parameters of reasonable use.
It is not appropriate to use City resources to manage or promote a private business or for campaign purposes.
- Can I use a City telephone or email to make appointments or take care of other personal matters?
Answer: Generally yes. City telephones or email may be used for calls to meet the demands of daily living. Personal use should be limited and occasional, and should not cost the City money or interfere with City work.
For example, an employee may use a City telephone or email to make a doctor's appointment or a lunch date, check in with a family member, or arrange for transportation. However, supervisors and departments may have more strict policies on telephone and email use.
- Can I use a City telephone for calls concerning my outside business?
Answer: No. City equipment is provided to City employees for their public responsibilites and cannot be used to conduct a private business. Any City employee with a second job or private business must conduct it on their own time, using their own equipment and supplies, and away from the workplace.
Employees also cannot use their personal laptops or cell phones in the City workplace to manage their outside business or campaign activities. The worksite is also a public resource. To promote or manage your outside business you must go to a public place. Field workers must separate themselves from their work site.
- Can I use my City computer to send personal emails or to look up personal information on the Internet?
Answer: As with the telephone, the Commission interprets the Code to allow occasional internet usage on a City computer, so long as it does not disrupt work and is compatible with managment policies. Sending an occasional personal email or reading an on-line newspaper over your lunch break would not violate the Ethics Code.
Here again, departments, managers, and supervisors may have more restrictive policies on computer use. Employees should know that the City does monitor some -- and has the capability to monitor all -- computer, email, and Internet use, and that personal emails may be subject to public records disclosure.
- Can I use the City computer to access the Internet to check my personal investments or make an investment?
Answer: Just like with other occasional personal uses, using your City computer and Internet access to check your bank account or investments would not violate the Ethics Code.
- Can our crew use the City truck to drive to a restaurant at lunch time?
Answer: When you are working in the field, you may use a City vehicle to stop at a nearby eating establishment, as long as this use is consistent with management and department policy, and the location is reasonable.
Use of City vehicles for personal errands, including lunch, is prohibited. If you believe that extenuating circumstances warrant your using the City vehicle for an unusual purpose, contact the SEEC in advance for advice.
- No one is using our tools over the weekend. Isn't it all right for me to take them home to use on my home project?
Answer: No. Employees cannot use City tools, equipment, or supplies, except for phones and computers within the above limits, for personal purposes. Use of other tools or equipment costs the City in wear and tear. If the equipment is not available to the public on the same terms, employees cannot use it.
- Can I put a flyer for my business on the employee bulletin board at work?
Answer: If the bulletin board is available for public use, such as at City-run community centers, employees may use the board subject to the same regulations that the public must follow. But departmental bulletin boards, including on-line bulletin boards, cannot be used to promote a private business.
The Commission has said that use of the work-site bulletin boards for communication between employees is permissible, including offering used personal items for sale or posting notice of a school fund-raiser, but promotion of a private business is prohibited.
These rules apply to direct selling catalogs, as well, which should not be listed on department bulletin boards or placed in internal lunchrooms.
For the Ethics Code regarding Use of City Resources,
see SMC 4.16.070 or contact the SEEC for advice.
Last updated April 13, 2011.