Use of Government Property, Time, and Information

5 C.F.R. §§ 2635.703, .704, and .705

It is your responsibility as an employee to protect and conserve Government-owned or -leased property and vehicles and to use them only for authorized purposes. You are misusing a Government vehicle when you use it for your personal benefit as opposed to using it for the benefit of the Government.

You may not use Government purchasing authority or a Government charge card for personal acquisitions, even if you reimburse the Government.

When leaving Government service, you may not remove Government property or files and you may not use Government copiers to make copies of files to take with you.

You are prohibited from using official Government envelopes (with or without applied postage) or official letterhead stationery for personal business. This includes mailing your resumes/applications for Federal or private positions. Violation of the prohibition against using franked (postage paid) envelopes may result in a fine (18 U.S.C. § 1719).

You must use official time, both your own and that of your subordinates, in an honest effort to perform official duties.

Nonpublic information

You are prohibited from engaging in any financial transactions using "insider" or nonpublic information, or allowing the improper use of nonpublic information to further your own private interest or that of another. Nonpublic information is information that the employee gains by reason of Federal employment and knows (or reasonably should know) has not been made available to the general public, i.e., classified or other information that is routinely exempt from disclosure.

Example:  An employee is involved in her personal capacity with a professional association that practices within her area of expertise. The professional association is interested in hearing about the agency's long-range plans in that area which have not yet been made public. The employee may not share this information with the professional association. Employees are not to use or allow the improper use of nonpublic information to further a private interest, either their own or another's. We all have access to nonpublic information and we have an obligation to prevent unauthorized releases. See 5 C.F.R. § 2635.703.

The DOI's limited personal use policy (410 DM 2) applies only to personal use of Department-owned or -leased computers (and internet service), telephones, fax machines, and non-color photocopiers. A bureau or office may not change any part of this policy to relax the restriction explained below.

This limited personal use policy does not apply to the use of Government-owned or -leased motor vehicles, or to the use of Government charge cards. The policy applies to Government equipment used on Government premises. Employees may not, without property authorization, remove Government equipment from the office for home use.

Use of Computers and the Internet

Employees may use Government computers and the internet for personal use on their personal time (before and after work; during lunch and other breaks) provided there is no additional cost to the Government. Employees may make personal purchases over the internet, provided they have the purchased item sent to a non-Government address. The following activities are absolutely prohibited on any Government-owned or -leased computer:

  • Gambling

  • Visiting and downloading material from pornographic websites

  • Improperly lobbying Congress or any Government agency

  • Campaigning - political activity

  • Online stock trading activities

  • Online real estate activities

  • Online activities that are connected with any type of outside work or commercial activity, including day trading

  • Endorsements of any products, services, or organizations

  • Fundraising for external organizations or purposes (except as required as part of your official duties under applicable statutory authority and bureau policy)

  • Any type of continuous audio or video streaming from commercial, private, news, or financial organizations

Use of DOI E-mail

DOI does not place any restrictions on incoming e-mail. Under current policy in 410 DM 2, employees may send out personal e-mail provided that:

  • Personal use of e-mail does not cause congestion, delay, or disruption of service to any Government system or equipment.

  • Messages are not sent to more than five addresses (no mass mailings).

  • The employee does not represent himself or herself as acting in an official capacity.

  • Messages do not contain partisan political messages.

It is important to note that any e-mail on any DOI e-mail system may become an official record. Employees have no right to privacy for e-mail transmissions; DOI is often required to release employee e-mails pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act or Inspector General, court, or Congressional orders.

Use of DOI Telephones

Federal employees may use Government property only as authorized. Employees may use DOI landline telephones for personal calls when they are necessary, provide a benefit to DOI, and do not result in any additional costs to the Government. Such calls are deemed to be in the interest of the Government to the extent they enable employees to remain at their work stations thereby increasing Government efficiency. Personal phone calls may not adversely affect the performance of official duties or the employee's work performance, must be of reasonable duration and frequency, and could not reasonably have been made during non-duty hours.

DOI cell phones may be used for personal calls only to the extent that such calls would be authorized on a DOI landline telephone and so long as no additional costs are imposed on the Government.

Use of Government Transportation Subsidy Program Benefits

Benefits may only be used for qualifying transportation expenses, such as mass transit (subway, rail, and bus) or other similar public transportation mode, and are only available for days you actually commute to work. You must deduct any days you are on leave, official travel, or do not commute using qualified modes of transportation when you receive your next quarterly or monthly distribution. Benefits are not transferable and you are required to return any unused benefits when you leave DOI. Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available at:

Use of Government Travel Cards while in Official Travel Status

Government Travel Cards may only be used for official travel and may not be used for any personal purchases.

Government charge card training is available on DOI Talent.

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