Committees & DTFs

Ethics Policy Review DTF

Ethics Policy DTF Charge – December, 2010

Background

Evergreen’s policy on ethics was written and approved in 1996.   A number of changes have occurred since that time and new models established.   Recently questions have arisen on campus around the specific issue of the prohibition in the ethics statute for using state resources to support “outside” organizations. [i] 

Additionally, the Executive Ethics Board has adopted a practice of review and approval of agency policies that provides “safe harbor” for employees if they should inadvertently violate the Ethics Law as interpreted by the Executive Ethics Board in a situation where the agency’s existing policy specifically allowed the activity and had received Ethics Board Approval.  [ii]

There are a number of policies already written by other institutions of higher education that have been reviewed and approved by the Executive Ethics Board.  They may serve as good models for Evergreen for much of our policy.   However, none of these policies specifically addresses the issue of use of state resources to assist outside organizations.   While all institutions of higher education hold public service as part of their mission, one could argue this is particularly so at Evergreen.   Additionally, the college's emphasis on theory into practice as one of our five foci necessarily requires significant work that may assist outside organizations, though its primary purpose is to assure an important element of the Evergreen educational experience.

Work of the DTF

 

I have asked Lee Hoemann to chair this DTF given her extensive past experience in overseeing our ethics policy, her broad knowledge of the activities of the College and her past work as liaison with the Attorney General’s Office who also staff the Executive Ethics Committee.   The DTF should work to draft a policy for approval by the President and subsequent submittal to the Executive Ethics Board for review and approval that covers the broad issues of ethics and that specifically provides clarity for understanding when use of public resources is permitted to assist outside organizations.   I ask the committee to consult with internal constituencies and staff of the Executive Ethics Committee to assure an understanding of these issues that best assures a positive outcome for policy approval.

Additionally, I am asking the committee to make recommendations for procedures that would ensure that appropriate language is included in job descriptions for faculty and staff with responsibility for working with outside organizations. You may also want to consider a procedure for approval on a case-by-case basis where assisting outside organizations it is not generally considered part of an employee’s job but emerging needs warrant an exception for a particular project.

I ask that the committee endeavor to complete its work if possible by early in spring quarter so that we can move towards Executive Ethics Committee review and approval before the end of the academic year.  



[i] (7) Agency policies encouraged. State agencies are encouraged to adopt policies applying these principles to their unique circumstances. 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.

[ii] RCW  42.52.160

Use of persons, money, or property for private gain.

(1) No state officer or state employee may employ or use any person, money, or property under the officer's or employee's official control or direction, or in his or her official custody, for the private benefit or gain of the officer, employee, or another.

     (2) This section does not prohibit the use of public resources to benefit others as part of a state officer's or state employee's official duties.

     (3) The appropriate ethics boards may adopt rules providing exceptions to this section for occasional use of the state officer or state employee, of de minimis cost and value, if the activity does not result in interference with the proper performance of public duties.

The Rule adopted by the Executive Ethics Board related to this provision of the statute :

WAC 292-110-010

Use of state resources.

(5) Prohibited uses.

     (a) Any use for the purpose of conducting an outside business, private employment, or other activities conducted for private financial gain;

     (b) Any use for the purpose of supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for an outside organization or group, including, but not limited to, a private business, or a political party, or supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for a nonprofit organization unless provided for by law or authorized by an agency head or designee;

     (c) Any use for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of a person to an office or for the promotion of or opposition to a ballot proposition. Such a use of state resources is specifically prohibited by RCW 42.52.180, subject to the exceptions in RCW 42.52.180(2);

     (d) Any use for the purpose of participating in or assisting in an effort to lobby the state legislature, or a state agency head. Such a use of state resources is specifically prohibited by RCW 42.17.190, subject to the exceptions in RCW 42.17.190(3);

     (e) Any use related to conduct that is prohibited by a federal or state law or rule, or a state agency policy; and

     (f) Any private use of any state property that has been removed from state facilities or other official duty stations, even if there is no cost to the state.

[1] (7) Agency policies encouraged. State agencies are encouraged to adopt policies applying these principles to their unique circumstances. 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.

[1] RCW  42.52.160

Use of persons, money, or property for private gain.

(1) No state officer or state employee may employ or use any person, money, or property under the officer's or employee's official control or direction, or in his or her official custody, for the private benefit or gain of the officer, employee, or another.

     (2) This section does not prohibit the use of public resources to benefit others as part of a state officer's or state employee's official duties.

     (3) The appropriate ethics boards may adopt rules providing exceptions to this section for occasional use of the state officer or state employee, of de minimis cost and value, if the activity does not result in interference with the proper performance of public duties.

The Rule adopted by the Executive Ethics Board related to this provision of the statute :

WAC 292-110-010

Use of state resources.

(5) Prohibited uses.

     (a) Any use for the purpose of conducting an outside business, private employment, or other activities conducted for private financial gain;

     (b) Any use for the purpose of supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for an outside organization or group, including, but not limited to, a private business, or a political party, or supporting, promoting the interests of, or soliciting for a nonprofit organization unless provided for by law or authorized by an agency head or designee;

     (c) Any use for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of a person to an office or for the promotion of or opposition to a ballot proposition. Such a use of state resources is specifically prohibited by RCW 42.52.180, subject to the exceptions in RCW 42.52.180(2);

     (d) Any use for the purpose of participating in or assisting in an effort to lobby the state legislature, or a state agency head. Such a use of state resources is specifically prohibited by RCW 42.17.190, subject to the exceptions in RCW 42.17.190(3);

     (e) Any use related to conduct that is prohibited by a federal or state law or rule, or a state agency policy; and

     (f) Any private use of any state property that has been removed from state facilities or other official duty stations, even if there is no cost to the state.