12.120 - Telephone and Facsimile Machine Use

Effective Date: 12/4/2007

POLICY

The City's Code of Ethics prohibits the use of City property for personal benefit and anything other than minimal personal use. Therefore, employees should be aware of the Department's policy on the use of telephones and facsimile machine use. Long distance and cellular telephone calls shall be made in compliance with the procedures indicated below.

I. Telephone Etiquette

A. Answering the telephone.

1. Telephone calls should be answered as soon as possible.

a. In the case of multiple calls, answer the call(s) and ask the caller(s) to wait on hold while handling other calls.

2. The proper salutation when answering the telephone will include:

a. The Section or Unit of the assigned telephone number,

b. The name of the person answering the telephone, and

c. An offer of assistance.

II. Desk Telephones

A. Acquisition

1. Desk phones will be provided as necessary by the Department. If an additional phone or phone line is needed, requests should be submitted to the Department’s Telephone Coordinator. Approval of the Section Captain (defined as a Captain or non-sworn equivalent) is required.

B. Local Calls

1. Desk telephones provided by the Department are for official City business communications.

2. Personal calls on City telephones should be kept to a minimum.

C. Long Distance Calls

1. From City Telephones

a. Employees needing to make long distance business calls from City telephones will be provided with a “SHAR Account Code.” If such an account is needed, requests should be submitted to the Fiscal Management Unit. Approval of the requesting employee’s Section Captain is required.

b. The City will not pay for any personal long distance telephone calls. All personal long distance calls shall be the responsibility of the employee making the call. Personal long distance calls made from City telephones should be charged to the employee’s personal credit card, their home account, or billed collect to the party called. If no other option is available and the employee must use the City’s long distance service, the employee shall:

(1) Verify the exact cost of the call on the next bill, and

(2) Reimburse the City for all charges incurred.

c. Supervisors shall monitor long distance calling records. Excessive personal calls will result in the loss of long distance phone privileges.

2. From Non-City Telephones

a. Employees regularly needing to make long distance business calls from non-City telephones will be provided with a “Frontier” phone travel card. If such a card is needed, requests should be submitted to the Fiscal Management Unit. Approval of the employee’s Section Captain is required.

b. Frontier phone travel cards shall not be used for personal calls except in an emergency. If an employee does use a Frontier card for a personal call, the employee shall:

(1) Verify the exact cost of the call on the next bill, and

(2) Reimburse the City for all charges incurred.

c. Employees needing to make long distance business calls from non-City phones who do not have Frontier travel cards should maintain a record of the calls made and request reimbursement through the normal expense voucher process.

D. International Calls

1. Employees needing to make international business calls from City telephones will be provided with appropriate access. If access is needed, requests should be submitted to the Fiscal Management Unit. Approval of the employee’s Section Captain is required.

2. No personal international calls shall be made on City accounts.

III. Cellular Phones

A. Acquisition

1. Cellular telephones will be provided to appropriate staff by the Department. If an additional cellular telephone is needed, requests should be submitted to the Finance, Strategic Policy, and Planning Section as part of the normal budgetary process. Approval of the employee’s Bureau Chief is required. Once approval is obtained, the cellular phones will be ordered and issued by the Communications Section.

2. If use of a seized, confiscated, or unclaimed cellular phone is desired, an employee must:

a. Initiate property conversion procedures,

b. Obtain approval from the requesting employee’s Bureau Chief,

c. Request cellular service through the Finance, Strategic Policy, and Planning Section as part of the normal budgetary process, and

d. Once approval is obtained and the phone has been released from evidence, the user must arrange for activation with the Communications Section.

B. Local Calls

1. Cellular telephones are significantly more expensive than other methods of communication and should not be used if a more cost effective alternative is available. The number of cellular phone calls should be kept to a minimum. Calls should be brief as charges occur by the minute.

2. The City will not pay for any personal cellular telephone calls. All personal cellular calls shall be the responsibility of the employee making the call. If no other option is available and the employee must use the City’s cellular telephone service, the employee shall:

a. Verify the exact cost of the call on the next bill, and

b. Reimburse the City for all charges incurred.

3. Supervisors will monitor cellular phone usage. Excessive personal calls will result in the loss of cellular phone use.

C. Long Distance Calls

1. Long distance calls shall not be made on cellular telephones except for an occasional business call that cannot reasonably be made through another option.

2. Personal long distance calls shall not be made on cellular telephones except in the case of an emergency. All personal long distance cellular calls shall be the responsibility of the employee making the call. If no other option is available and the employee must use the City’s cellular telephone service, the employee shall:

a. Verify the exact cost of the call on the next bill, and

b. Reimburse the City for all charges incurred.

D. Personal Phones

1. Given the large number of personal cellular phone lines contracted for SPD employees (over 1,400 through the SPOG program alone), SPD will not generally reimburse employees for use of their personal cellular phones for business purposes. Any extenuating circumstances will be considered on an individual basis through the employee’s chain of command. Individuals making extensive use of personal cellular phones for business purposes should request a Department-owned phone.

IV. Facsimile Machine Use

A. Acquisition

1. Facsimile (fax) machines will be provided by the Department as necessary.

B. Official City Business

1. Fax machines provided by the Department are for official City business communications.

C. Personal Business

1. Personal faxes should be kept to a minimum.

2. Employees receiving personal faxes on City facsimile machines shall reimburse the City 0.35¢ for the first page received, and .15¢ for each additional page.

a. Payment will be made to the Fiscal Management Unit.

3. There will be no charge for local fax transmission.

4. Long distance fax machine transmissions will conform with long distance telephone call policies.

V. Records Processing

A. Fiscal, Property and Fleet Management Section

1. Each month, the Fiscal Management Unit shall provide Section Captains with copies of the City of Seattle Telephone Management System Detail Reports. The Detail Reports list all long distance and cellular telephone calls made by individuals under their command.

B. Section Captains

1. Section Captains are responsible for distributing the Detail Report(s) to the appropriate individuals.

C. Employees

1. Each employee receiving a Telephone System Management Detail Report shall verify the authenticity of each call listed. All telephone calls of a personal nature must be identified and the City appropriately reimbursed.

a. After verifying each call, write on the Detail Report that “all calls are business related” or identify the personal calls and write the amount you are reimbursing the City.

b. Sign your name, print your serial number and current date on the Detail Report.

c. Forward the verified Detail Report (with reimbursement if appropriate) to your Section Captain for further processing.

VI. Reimbursement

A. Employees

1. Employees are responsible for repaying the City for all personal telephone charges. Repayment should be made in cash or by check that is made payable to the “City of Seattle.”

B. Section Captains

1. Are responsible for processing all Detail Reports and any remitted funds.

a. The funds remitted by employees shall be logged on the Funds Remitted for Personal Telephone Charges (form 1.4). The Funds Remitted for Personal Telephone Charges form, the moneys collected, and all Telephone Management System Detail Reports must then be packaged together and submitted within fourteen (14) days to the Fiscal, Property and Fleet Management Section.

C. Fiscal, Property and Fleet Management Section

1. The Fiscal Management Unit will monitor long distance and cellular bills for reasonable usage levels. Bills that reflect high usage levels will be forwarded to the individual, their immediate supervisor, and the Section Captain for review. Supervisors must complete the review sheet and return it to the Fiscal, Property and Fleet Management Section within fourteen (14) days of the time the reports are received.