Special General Memorandum 2009-01
Employees of the Indian Health Service (IHS) are expected to conduct themselves professionally and ethically while in the workplace. Professional and ethical conduct includes refraining from all inappropriate use of information technology (IT) resources while in the workplace.
I would like to remind all of you that the IHS has a zero tolerance policy regarding the use of Government computers, telephones, facsimiles, Blackberry® smartphones, or any other IT resource to access sexually explicit or sexually oriented materials for non-clinical or non-research purposes. Activity of this type is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. Anyone who misuses Government IT resources in this manner will be subject to disciplinary or adverse actions, criminal penalties, and/or financial liability in accordance with Federal regulations and guidelines.
Disciplinary or adverse actions will include, but are not limited to, suspension, reassignment, written reprimand, demotion, or removal. Confirmed misuse of a Government computer to access sexually explicit or sexually oriented materials is subject to a minimum penalty of suspension from duty without pay for at least 14 days, or more as the nature of the offense warrants.
Every instance of confirmed misuse will require management to evaluate and determine the appropriate level of discipline. The Director, IHS Headquarters Division of Human Resources (DHR), or your organization’s designated Regional Human Resources Officer (RHRO) shall be consulted regarding the appropriate level of disciplinary or adverse action for any employee who uses a Government computer to access sexually explicit or sexually oriented material. The name and phone number of both the DHR Director and the RHRO may be found on the following IHS Web site:
When an incident or a suspected incident is brought to a manager’s attention regarding an employee’s use of a Government computer to access sexually explicit or sexually oriented material, the Director, DHR or the RHRO should be consulted to initiate an investigation of the circumstances to determine if there is inappropriate behavior and activity. The findings of their investigation will, if applicable, assist management in determining the appropriate disciplinary response in accordance with Federal guidelines and regulations. Depending on the severity of the violation, disciplinary or adverse actions will include, but are not limited to, suspension, reassignment, written reprimand, demotion, or removal.
The IHS is authorized to restrict the use of its computers and network systems when presented with evidence of violation of IHS policies and standards of ethical conduct. Safeguarding the integrity of computers, networks, software, and data is everyone’s responsibility. All users are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with these responsibilities.
The IHS has implemented a Web traffic filtering and monitoring tool to enforce the Agency’s Internet use policy. The IHS uses this tool to assist with restricting access to and monitoring access to Web sites that may be inappropriate or dangerous to the IHS network. The Web traffic filtering and monitoring tool maintains a listing of sites visited by IHS users.
Please review Part 8, Chapter 6, “Limited Personal Use of Information Technology Resources,” Indian Health Manual, for guidance and a complete description of the appropriate and inappropriate uses of IT resources. The chapter may be found at:
For guidance on ethical conduct, the "Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch" and other resources may be viewed at:
It is important that you familiarize yourselves with the applicable rules and regulations and adhere to the IHS's policy.
Your continued commitment to maintain the highest level of integrity is greatly appreciated.
/Robert G. McSwain/
Indian Health Service
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