Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 400: Expenditures
The Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission and the Assistant Attorney General issued an advisory opinion in July 1998 regarding the use of agency equipment by an employee. ORS 244.040(1)(a) specifically prohibits all public officials in the State of Oregon from using their official position to obtain financial benefit because of holding the position. This provision applies equally to elected persona, compensated public employees, and uncompensated persons who volunteer their time to a public entity.
Agency equipment is interpreted to include all publicly owned property or other resources of a government body such as photocopiers, fax machines, and document scanners.
A public agency’s telephones are intended to be used only for official business of the agency. However, there are occasions when public officials may use their employing agency’s telephones for personal purposes without such usage being at odds with the law. It is normal practice by both public and private employers to permit employees to use business telephones to talk to family members, make medical appointments, schedule service technicians, confer with children’s schools, and take care of any variety of matters which can only be accomplished during working hours. Personal long distance calls, even if the employee intends to reimburse the public agency for the cost of such calls, should not be charged to an OSU index. Employees should use personal calling cards for such calls. If any costs for personal usage are charged to OSU, they must be reimbursed.
The statutory considerations relating to the use of cellular telephones is essentially the same as that which applies to regular telephones. Public agency’s cellular phones are not for the convenience or personal use of employees. If public employees desire to have the convenience of a cellular telephone while on duty to make the types of routine personal calls cited in the section relating to telephones above, the employees must acquire and pay for their own personal cellular service.
The statutory considerations for computers are essentially the same as for both telephones and cellular phones cited above.
For further information see the complete Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission Advisory Opinion No.98A-1003.