VA's Limited Personal Use Policy

1.0 Identification Data
1.1 BSP Number
00011
1.2 BSP Title/Name
Limited Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology
1.3 Version Number
1
1.4 Adoption Date
10/3/2000
1.5 Approving Authority
Security Practices Subcommittee (SPS)
1.6 Responsible Organization
Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Information and Technology (005), Technology Integration Service (045A2)
1.7 Level of BSP
Candidate
1.8 Security Processes or other Framework(s) Supported
Personnel Security: Develop guidance and procedures for the organization's personnel security program.
1.9 Reserved
1.10 Points of Contact
Government BSP Owner:
James Edwards

VA Information Security Officer (045A2)
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 VT Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20420
Telephone: 202.273.8137
Email: james.edwards@mail.va.gov
2.0 What This BSP Does
2.1 BSP's Purpose
This BSP (in Directive form) defines acceptable, limited conditions for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees’ personal use of Government office equipment, including information technology. It establishes new privileges and additional responsibilities for VA employees, recognizes these employees as responsible individuals who are the key to making VA more responsive to its customers, and it allows employees to use Government office equipment, including information technology, for non-Government purposes when such use is conducted during non-work hours, and involves minimal additional expense to the Government.
2.2 Requirements for this BSP
Previous VA policy specified that there was to be "no personal use" of government information technology. In many cases, VA security staff was employed in the enforcement of this unreasonable and unenforceable policy. In addition, the "no personal use" is clearly at odds with modern enlightened management in government. This policy also consolidated VA policy on employee personal use of all office equipment, including telephone service, photocopy service, the use of facsimile machines, and Internet use.
2.3 Success Stories
This policy was only recently made effective in VA, so success stories based on the implementation of this policy are not yet available. The expected outcome of this policy is improved employee morale and productivity, coupled with management’s ability to realistically enforce rules related to employee personal use of Government equipment and services. This policy received Department-wide concurrence, including concurrence from VA’s national employee unions, before it became effective.
3.0 What This BSP Is
3.1 Description of BSP
This practice establishes rules and responsibilities for VA employees' limited personal use of government office equipment, including information technology. It also establishes that limited personal use of Government office equipment, including information technology (e.g., internet), is considered an "authorized use;" and it defines specific provisions for such use of Government office equipment.

The practice permits use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves minimal additional expense to the Government. Such use must take place during the employee's non-work time (e.g., lunch, break, after-hours) and must not result in loss of employee productivity or interference with official duties.

The BSP was developed in VA to implement an orderly transition from the "no personal use" philosophy into a limited personal use one. It relieves VA managers from the burden of deciding what constitutes limited personal use, heretofore a confusing, ambiguous, and subjective concept susceptible to being capriciously granted.

Output: VA Directive 6001 (Limited Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology)

3.2 Relationship to Other BSPs
This practice establishes rules and responsibilities for VA employees' limited personal use of government office equipment, including information technology. It also establishes that limited personal use of Government office equipment, including information technology (e.g., internet), is considered an "authorized use;" and it defines specific provisions for such use of Government office equipment.

The practice permits use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves minimal additional expense to the Government. Such use must take place during the employee's non-work time (e.g., lunch, break, after-hours) and must not result in loss of employee productivity or interference with official duties.

The BSP was developed in VA to implement an orderly transition from the "no personal use" philosophy into a limited personal use one. It relieves VA managers from the burden of deciding what constitutes limited personal use, heretofore a confusing, ambiguous, and subjective concept susceptible to being capriciously granted.

Output: VA Directive 6001 (Limited Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology)

4.0 How To Use This BSP
4.1 Implementation Guidance
The issues introduced in this BSP are relatively new in government cultures and certain aspects are controversial. For example, the simple expedient of demanding "no personal use" relieves managers from the burden of making case-by-case decisions in granting personal use. Conversely, the reality of the modern Government workplace makes enforcement of the "no personal use" philosophy difficult and often creates draconian work conditions. For these reasons, development of this BSP should be in cooperation of all organizational units, including employee unions. Staff who will be required to defend, implement, and enforce the tenets of the BSP should be part of its development process.
4.2 Implementation Resource Estimates
This effort does not require additional resource expenditures.
4.3 Performance Goals and Indicators (Metrics)
This BSP is a component of VA's efforts to create a modern workplace environment that attracts and retains committed and qualified employees.
4.4 Tools
VA's Microsoft Exchange system was used to inform management and line staff of this BSP.
4.5 Training Materials
In addition to VA's Exchange system, national conference calls with the Department's security community were used to inform VA staff.
Appendices
A Executive Overview and Briefing
Management approval and acceptance was gained through meetings and discussions, and through drafting and coordination of the Directive with the VA Information Security Work Group. The Directive was also discussed and coordinated with VA’s national employee unions.
B Reference List
Federal CIO Council Model Policy, dated 5/8/1999, titled "Employee Personal Use of Government Office Equipment, Including Information Technology"
C Procurement Information
Not applicable.
D Evaluation Information
E Recommended Changes
F Glossary
Included in VA directive.