CIO Council proposes PC personal use policy for feds

How strict must agencies be about employees using e-mail for personal
messages—say, from an office PC to a kid in college? How about buying something
online, such as a book from

The Chief Information Officers Council says government employees’ use of agency
computers needs to be managed but not micromanaged, according to a draft guidance the
group will soon submit to lawmakers.

During a closed-door meeting at the FOSE trade show in Washington this month, the CIO
Council agreed to propose to lawmakers a liberal personal use policy. A final decision on
the policy will depend on lawmakers’ reactions, one council member said.

The policy would mirror those used by many industry organizations. It focuses on
employees’ performance rather than attempting to direct how they spend their time.

The policy “recognizes these employees as responsible individuals who are the key
to making government more responsive to its citizens,” the draft policy said.
“It allows employees to use government office equipment for nongovernment purposes
when such use involves minimal expense to the government, is performed on the employees
personal time and does not interfere with the mission or operations of” the agency.

“It becomes a management issue,” General Services Administration CIO Shereen
G. Remez said. The use of a PC for personal reasons is similar to that of using an office
phone, she said.

GSA developed a personal use policy after GSA Administrator David J. Barram set a goal
to have Internet access at every PC.

The idea for a policy came from Social Security Administration CIO John Dyer. The CIO
Council’s Interoperability Committee developed the guidance.

The draft details how the policy could be carried out. It specifically prohibits
gambling, terrorist activities, hacking and the transmission of sexually oriented
materials or materials that ridicule others. It also prohibits using government computers
to post agency information in a way that “could create the perception that the
communication was made in one’s official capacity as a federal government

The policy would not be mandatory. Agencies would be free to adopt their own policies.

Defense Department deputy CIO Marvin Langston, co-chairman of the council’s
Interoperability Committee, said the policy would benefit both employees and the

Barram has said he encourages employees to find Web sites that interest them because it
makes them comfortable with the Internet.

The personal use issue also affects the government’s ability to retain and attract
good people, council members said. The CIO Council’s Education and Training Committee
is finalizing measures to help the government deal with its IT worker shortage, and the
report is expected to include recommendations on such workplace issues.

The draft is available on the Web at


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