A follow on to Steve’s post: “Is A NH Public Employee Using The Internet to Sell his Political Agenda On Your Time?”
Well, let’s start with the easy stuff. First, many companies of “size” have strict regulations about what employees can and cannot do with computer equipment – and Internet access using that equipment. After all, it isn’t the employe’s as someone else (i.e., the owner, the stockholders, the taxpayers) ended up with less money in their pocket so that this equipment could be purchased, could be provisioned (e.g., sSo, does the State of NH have such a document? InDEED it does!
In fact, there are several, very specific restrictions on what / how State of NH Employees can do with State owned computer equipment and networks – and Internet access. It also seems that each employee has to sign it to show that they have read the document (and, hopefully, understand it:
YOUR SIGNATURE AND INITIALS ARE REQUIRED AT THE END OF THIS DOCUMENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS POLICY.
I would assume, given that Mr. De Seve is allowed the use of “Esq.” after his name (as he is a lawyer), the he would understand that this puts a legal obligation on every employee within State Government. Thus, anything he does (or doesn’t do) with State owned equipment paid for with taxpayer monies entrusted to his care are specifically enumerated within the policy (just like one of the SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreements he negotiated on behalf of the union with the State).
Once again, there is such a clause!
3 COMPUTER USE
The network and computer equipment are State of New Hampshire property and are to be used for State business purposes only.
Just thought I’d bold that part – makes it easier to follow along here in pointing out the important stuff. And yes, this is important! And if that wasn’t clear enough, being a Government document, it goes into more excruciating detail:
3.1 Computer Use Description
In consideration for the privilege of accessing and using the computer facilities, network, licensed or development software maintained or operated by any of the State entities, systems, equipment, documentation, information, reports, or data of any kind (hereinafter “Information”), the Authorized User understands and agrees to the following rules:
But wait! It gets even MORE excruciating! But Mr. De Seve would know about rules – for Law is just another name for “rules for all of us”. You know, Government’s have standards for us and its employees – make it ironclad clear what is and isn’t allowed. Kinda takes away that “free agent” mentality – or does it? Or is it more correct to say “or did it”?
Sidenote: I did have to chuckle a bit at this next one: 3.1.8. Only equipment or software owned, licensed or being evaluated by the State shall be used by an Authorized User. Personal software (including but not limited to palmtop sync software) shall not be installed on any equipment. OK, so the State is not always up to date on everything….this is a bit old and dated (Palm no longer exists).
3.1 11. Authorized User shall report any and all violations of this policy to the appropriate supervisor promptly upon learning of such violation.
Gee, doe the Fifth Amendment preclude turning himself in? Legally, I wonder, but what about a person’s own honor code? I know that the US Military Academies have such a written policy that including turning oneself in for honor code violations, but would that apply here? Should it?
If an Authorized User’s use of the network or computer system appears to be inappropriate or excessive, the appropriate technical support personnel will notify the appropriate immediate supervisor.
Steve mentioned 50 pages of comments over at the Concord Monitor and that they seemed to be all done within regular office hours (and yes, Steve noted that we do not know Richard De Seve’s official duty hours as a Supervisor). would that be considered only a little, just right, or WAY overboard while on the taxpayer payroll?
But now we get to the “good stuff”: how is an Authorized User (somebody who works for the State, is paid by the State, and has been granted Internet access with the equipment entrusted to his care by the State) is supposed to use the Internet while performing his duties on behalf of the citizens of the State (and did I mention, are paying his salary?). The above snippet taken from the policy makes it seem that an IT person is supposed to be watching traffic flows – and yes, the technology exists to see where traffic is flowing and that it can be back tracked too; is the State actually doing its monitoring?
5 INTERNET/INTRANET USE
The Internet/Intranet is to be used for access to and distribution of Information in direct support of the business of the State of New Hampshire
OK, if Dick De Seve has 50 pages of comments over at the Concord Monitor – that would be a sizable “distribution of Information”. That next part, however, are we supposed to believe that those are “in direct support of the business of the State of New Hampshire“? He’s part of DES, not a co-worker with Mr. Manning (Gov. “Do Nuttin” Lynch’s Press Flack, whose PR job very well could be to do such), he does environmental “stuff”. Betcha he’s gonna have to do some more writing to do – but probably not to the Concord Monitor.
5.1 Internet/Intranet Use Description
Authorized Users are given State provided access to Internet and Intranet resources to assist them in the performance of their jobs.
Hmm, this just keeps getting a bit worse , eh? “In the performance of
their jobs his job”? Let’s see….water pollution? Nope. Air pollution? Nope. Land use? still no. And trust me, I went through every single Division, Burea, and Unit of DES and reviewed every. single. Program. None of them included political outreach. That is, the kind that Mr. De Seve parcels out at the Concord Monitor.
Internet/Intranet Authorized Users are responsible for all material accessed under their user ID.
And he can’t, given that it is HIS ID, pull Obama and blame it on someone else.
5.2 Internet/Intranet may be used for:
Software for browsing is provided to Authorized Users for state related business use only.
• Communications with other State and Federal agencies and the general public.
• Communication of Information related to professional development or to maintain currency on topics of agency interest.
• Announcement of new laws, rules or regulations.
• Encouraging collaborative projects and sharing of resources.
• Fostering innovation and competitiveness within New Hampshire.
What else can I say? I feel fairly certain that his sharing his political beliefs is not exactly the same as what is stated above concerning professional development, or even agency interest. Just his…
But I think that this next clause may well be, if his supervisor(s) take notice, what really is the “controlling legal authority”:
5.3 Internet/Intranet shall not be used for:
The Authorized User understands and agrees that the Internet/Intranet shall not be used for:
1. Chat rooms, interactive games, and personal message boards.
I do believe that it is undeniable that his postings, if done during his official work hours, will violate that. The proof is unassailable.
So, what is the next step? Well, the above is “the standard” – has Mr. De Seve lived up to it? Has the State lived up to maintaining their own standard?
And if not, in either case, what happens next? Personal Honor codes should matter. When authorities set standards in place, they should matter.