5-2 Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology

Management at each Postal Service facility may permit employees to make limited personal use of Postal Service office equipment, including information technology equipment, provided such use does not reduce or otherwise adversely affect the employee’s productivity during work hours, does not interfere with the mission or operations of the Postal Service, and does not violate the Standards of Ethical Conduct.

The office equipment governed by this policy includes, but is not limited to, personal computers; personal digital assistants (including Blackberries); peripherals, such as printers and modems; computer software (including Web browsers); telephones; cell phones; smart phones; tablets; smart watches; facsimile machines; photocopiers; scanners; label writers; consumable office products; office supplies; removable media; library resources; Internet connectivity; remote-access technologies (e.g., VPN); and e-mail. Use of Postal Service information resources constitutes permission to monitor that use.

Limited personal use of Postal Service office equipment, including information technology, means occasional use that meets the following criteria:

  1. Is of limited duration, length, or size, and does not interfere with employees’ official duties or the transaction of official Postal Service business.
  2. Results in only minimal, if any, additional expense to the Postal Service or minimal wear and tear on Postal Service office equipment; uses a small amount of data storage; has only a small-to-moderate transmission impact; or requires only small amounts of consumable office products (e.g., ink, paper, toner, and computer memory).

Some examples of limited personal use are:

  1. Making a few photocopies.
  2. Make occasional, brief telephone calls that result in little or no cost.
  3. Sending an occasional facsimile of a few pages.
  4. Sending a brief personal email message that contains only text (no urls, files, or images attached).
  5. Doing a brief Internet search.

Limited personal use of Postal Service office equipment, including information technology, must not:

  1. Reduce employee productivity or interfere with official Postal Service business (e.g., congest, delay, or disrupt any Postal Service system or equipment).
  2. Be for the purpose of maintaining or promoting a personal or private business.
  3. Be for the purpose of posting unauthorized commercial or advertising materials.
  4. Be for any illegal purpose, including, but not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to other systems; disseminating any discriminatory or hate-based materials or speech; or reproducing or distributing copyrighted, trademarked, proprietary, or export-controlled data or software.
  5. Be in relation to sexually explicit or sexually oriented materials.
  6. Refer or relate to illegal gambling, illegal weapons, and/or terrorist activities.
  7. Be for the purpose of fundraising, endorsing any product or service, lobbying, or participating in any prohibited partisan political activity.
  8. Be for the purpose of using applications and/or software that have not been approved by the Postal Service and that occupy or impact official computer or network processing time.
  9. Result in the disclosure of any Postal Service information that is not otherwise public.

Use of Postal Service office equipment in violation or excess of the limited personal use permitted by this policy may result in limitations on future use, administrative action, criminal penalty, and personal financial liability.

For advice on how to avoid violating this policy and the corresponding misuse of government property prohibitions in the Standards of Ethical Conduct, please call the Postal Service’s Ethics Helpline at 202-268-6346 or send an e-mail to ethics.help@usps.gov.