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Chapter 7 - Use Of Broadcast Messages, Spanning, and Targeted Audiences

Part 8 - Information Resources Management

Title Section
Introduction 8-7.1
    Purpose 8-7.1A
    Background 8-7.1B
    Scope 8-7.1C
    Authority 8-7.1D
    Acronyms 8-7.1E
    Definitions 8-7.1F
    Roles and Responsibilities 8-7.1G
    Policy 8-7.1H
    Procedures 8-7.1I


  1. PURPOSE.  This chapter establishes the policies and procedures to regulate the distribution of e-mail when addresses to large numbers of Indian Health Service (IHS) staff.  The chapter addresses email generated both from within and outside the Agency.
  2. BACKGROUND.  The objective in establishing rules is to balance the legitimate needs of the Government to distribute information related to the IHS mission against the attendant costs when many employees must sort through messages of questionable relevance to their work.  Messages sent to employees have the cost impacts of recipients taking time to review them, computer resources to process them, and support staff to keep the systems safe and operational.  It is necessary to maintain a cost-effective balance to maximize the efficiency of the IHS operations and to manage "spamming" or other efforts to disseminate large amounts of non-governmental mail.

    Broadcast messages are by their nature indiscriminate in terms of knowing the employees' interests in advance.  This is unavoidable, and a balance must be found between the value of the message being placed in e-mail and the time occupied by employees in receiving them.  This requires a policy that provides guidance to manage such transmissions to those for whom a reasonable business need exists as opposed to broadcasting everyone.  As the number of messages increases from numerous sources both in and outside of the IHS and as the tools for sending e-mail broadcasts become more widely available, and controlling policy is warranted.  This is necessary both to minimize the potential waste of employees' time in screening these messages and in maintaining the sense of importance for those that are sent.

  3. SCOPE.  This chapter applies to all IHS organizational components including but not limited to Headquarters, Area Offices, and service units conducting business for and on behalf of the IHS through contractual relationships when using IHS Information Technology (IT) resources.  The chapter applies to all IHS IT activities including the equipment, procedures, and technologies that are employed in managing these activities.  The chapter includes all IHS office locations, teleworking, travel, and other off-site locations.  Indian Health Service officials shall apply this chapter to contractor personnel, interns, externs, and other non-Government employees by incorporating such reference in contracts or memorandums of agreement as conditions for using Government-provided IT resources.  This chapter excludes mailing lists where the recipient individually requested the mail by signing up for a list server.
    1. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Information Resources Management (IRM) Policy, “Use of Broadcast Messages, Spamming and Targeted Audiences,” HHS-LRM-2000-0004, January 8, 2001
    2. The HHS General Administration Manual, Chapter 25-10: “Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Employee Welfare and Recreation Associations”

    (1)    AI/AN American Indian and Alaska Native

    (2)    ASCII American Standard Code for Information Interchange

    (3)    CFC Combined Federal Campaign

    (4)     CIO Chief Information Officer

    (5)    HHS Department of Health and Human Services

    (6)    IHS Indian Health Service

    (7)    IRM Information Resources Management

    (8)    IT Information Technology

    (9)    OMS Office of Management Support

    (10)   URL Universal Resource Locators

    (11)  WWW World Wide Web

    1. E-mail Broadcast.  An e-mail broadcast is the transmission of a single electronic mail message to large numbers of IHS employees or external recipients.  The intended meaning here is messages sent indiscriminately with the intent to reach all or most of the e-mail addresses in an organization or geographic area.  The use of list servers to reach multiple recipients where those on the list have chosen to subscribe are excluded.  This also excludes targeted messages to a list of employees or Tribal representatives maintained for specific business purposes (e.g., security-related messages to a list of security officers, medically related messages to a list of health professionals, personnel related messages to a list of personnel specialists, administrative messages to a list of support staff, and members (including non-IHS members) of workgroups or committees.
    2. Spam.  Spam, in general usage, refers to commercial senders of massive amounts of e-mail to all addresses they can find.  Spam is frequently sent from addresses that are forged to bypass filters intended to block them.  The content of spam often involves commercial scams, gambling, messages presenting a religious or political bias or message, chain letter e-mail, computer viruses, and the sale of pornography.
    1. Director, IHS.  The Director, IHS, is responsible for the following:
      1. Designating a central point of contact for clearance approval on broadcasts and providing the HHS Office of IRM with the name of the person designated.  The IHS central point of contact is designated as the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Division of Information Resources (DIR).
      2. Promulgating and enforcing appropriate e-mail policies and procedures, as needed, consistent with the Departmental and IHS policy for broadcasts from within the Agency.
      3. Ensuring that policies are followed.
      4. Making changes to the existing policy as needed.
    2. Chief Information Officer.  The CIO is responsible for the following:
      1. Serving as the IHS central point of contact for clearance approval on broadcasts.
      2. Maintaining office support to coordinate with the IHS approving officials for broadcasts.  Only employees with written delegated authority to broadcast messages will be given broadcast access on the IHS network through their respective IT staff.
      3. Maintaining procedures for requesters to submit e-mail broadcast requests.  These procedures may change over time without re-issuance of this policy.
      4. Maintaining a centeralized capability for IHS wide-scale broadcast.
      5. Recommending changes to this policy, as needed, to the Director, IHS.
    3. Director of Public Affairs.  The Director of Public Affairs (or his/her designee) shall:
      1. Be the approval authority and coordinate all e-mail broadcast requests originating from the IHS Director, Deputy Director, Director of Headquarters Operations, Director of Field Operations, or otherwise involving the Office of the Director, IHS.
      2. Review and authorize any broadcast messages that will be sent to recipients outside the Agency by IHS Headquarters.
      3. Send a message to the requesting organization, when applicable, that the request to send a broadcast message cannot be accommodated and the reason why.
      4. Refer questions and disputes back to the Director, IHS, or his/her designee.
    4. Director, Office of Management Support.  The Director, Office of Management Support (OMS), (or his/her designee) shall have final responsibility for the following:
      1. Deciding whether or not to send any given message generated by IHS Headquarters except for messages covered in Section 8-7.1G(3), “Director, Public Affairs.”
      2. Sending a message to the requesting organization, when applicable, that the request to send a broadcast message cannot be accommodated and the reason why.  (Questions and disputes are referred back to the Director, IHS, or his/her designee.)
    5. Director, Area Offices/Service Units.  Area Office Directors (or their designees) shall have final responsibility for the following:
      1. Deciding whether or not to send any given message generated by their respective organizational component except for messages covered in Sections 8-7.1.G.(3), “Director, Public Affairs,” and 8-7.1.G.(4), “Director, OMS.”
      2. Reviewing and approving any broadcast messages that will be sent to recipients outside their Area Office region by Area and service unit staff.
      3. Sending a message to the requesting organization, when applicable, that the request to send a broadcast message cannot be accommodated and the reason why.  (Questions and disputes are referred back to the Director, IHS, or his/her designee.)
    6. Submitting Organization (for E-mail Broadcasts Distributed by the IHS).  The submitting organization is responsible for proofreading, fact-checking, formatting, and clearing of any document proposed for transmission.  Additionally, the submitting organization is required to identify an individual to receive and handle any e-mail or telephone responses to each specific message.  Documents shall be submitted with sufficient lead time and formatted as specified in the submission procedures (see Section 8-7.1.I.(5), “Submission Procedures for E-mail Broadcasts to be Distributed by the IHS”).
    7. Employees.  Employees are not authorized to send broadcast e-mail messages except as allowed in Sections.8-7.1.H., “Policy,” and 8-7.1.I, “Procedures.”
  8. POLICY.
    1. The IHS shall establish procedures to manage e-mail broadcasts in the following areas:
      1. Internal messages relating to IHS business that involve transmission to a large number of employees.
      2. Requests from individuals and organizations to use the broadcast capabilities for other than operational business purposes.
      3. The use by external organizations and individuals of IHS electronic directory information to broadcast messages to IHS employees.
    2. Authority to distribute broadcasts may be delegated to accommodate urgent needs.  For example, offices with the responsibility for building maintenance matters, i.e., water quality, blocked building access, employee safety, or the like, will have delegated authority to send out notices when emergency situations occur.
    3. Each IHS organization/program office may implement procedures, as needed, consistent with this chapter, to manage the transmission of e-mail broadcasts within its own organization.
    4. The Director, Public Affairs, shall approve all e-mail broadcasts that include recipients outside the IHS for Headquarters-generated messages.  Area Directors shall approve these broadcasts for their respective Areas.
    5. Individual employees or contractors are not authorized to transmit e-mail broadcast messages except through formal approval as specified in this chapter.  Unauthorized or inappropriate use of IHS IT resources could result in loss of use or limitations on the use of equipment, disciplinary or adverse actions, criminal penalties, and/or employees or other users being held financially liable for the cost of inappropriate use.
    6. Wherever possible, information should be placed on the IHS Intranet or the Internet in lieu of using e-mail broadcasts.  To the extent possible, if an e-mail broadcast is sent, it shall reference Web universal resource locators (URL) rather than attaching a document.
    1. Internal Messages Relating to IHS Business That Involve Transmission to a Large Number of Employees.
      1. These messages may be transmitted by the designated approving official and include officially sponsored events or administrative items.  Examples of an IHS-sponsored event would include training and career development courses, blood drives, health insurance information fairs, and the like.
      2. Any message being sent to more than one IHS organizational component shall be sent by the originating office (except as noted in Section 8-7.1.H.(4), above) to the organization's designated approving official for approval.
    2. Requests From Individuals and Organizations To Use the Broadcast Capabilities for Other than Operational Business Purposes.  Activities and events that are not IHS-sponsored but receive IHS support or endorsement may be transmitted by the designated approving official under the following circumstances (all items must apply):
      1. The activity/event is sponsored by a recognized IHS employee organization (See Section 8-7.1.D, "Authority") or the activity/event is sponsored by a recognized employee organization in another agency, and that agency has endorsed the activity/event.
      2. The subject is of general interest and not a personal matter (e.g., no personal requests for leave donations, retirement notices, birth or death announcements, job location changes, etc. shall be sent by the IHS).
      3. Adequate notice is provided to the designated approving official by the requestor to allow time for the sender to address any broadcast or transmission policy or technical questions that are raised.
      4. The material is formatted as required by IHS standards.  (Current standards are contained in Section 8-7.1.I.(5).  "Submission Procedures for E-mail Broadcasts to be Distributed by the IHS.")
      5. Staff and computer resources are available for transmission.
      6. The content is reviewed by the employee's manager and approved by the designated organization's clearance authority prior to distribution.
      7. The message content does not fall within Section 8-7.1.I.(4), "Restrictions."
    3. Use by External Organizations and Individuals of IHS Electronic Directory Information to Broadcast Messages to IHS Employees.  Communications from the public are welcome by e-mail when sent to the specific individuals or offices that are responsible for the topic matter in the letter.  A directory of addressees can be found at  Requests from outside the IHS for broadcast e-mail distribution shall be addressed to the office in IHS that has direct responsibility for the topic of the message.  If no such IHS office exists, then it is likely that the topic of the message is not appropriate for handling within the IHS.  These messages shall be directed to the Director, Public Affairs, for resolution.
    4. Restrictions.  Items that are generally not approved for distribution, except at the discretion of the appropriate official with message broadcast authority, include those specifically described below, which are considered examples for guideline purposes:
      1. Any charitable activities involving cash except the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).  For example, information on an activity such as the Women's Race for the Cure would not be broadcast because it involves cash payments by employees, but broadcasts involving the collection of non-cash donations, such as clothing, toys, or food, may be allowed if other requirements are met.  In accordance with 5 Code of Federal Regulations 950.102, the CFC is the only authorized solicitation of Federal employees for money. Collections of gifts-in-kind (e.g., food, clothing) are permissible under this policy.
      2. Messages of a political, religious, or other similarly sensitive nature.
      3. Anything for commercial gain.
      4. Reminders of upcoming events/activities previously broadcast, except for notifications of blood drives, unless the reminders have been formally cleared for re-distribution.
      5. Security warnings, instructions, or information by a person other than the responsible security official.
      6. E-mail considered by the recipient to be interfering with Government operations.  The e-mail may be referred to the appropriate ethics office, law enforcement office, Office of Inspector General Office of Investigations, and/or the Internet Service Provider of the sender.  Offensive e-mail, such as e-mail of a violent, pornographic, racist, or sexist nature, violates the IHS's efforts to maintain a family-friendly workplace and shall not be distributed.  If it is, the sender may be subject to adverse personnel action (for employees) and/or prosecution.
    5. Submission Procedures for E-mail Broadcast to be Distributed by the IHS.  Broadcast messages must be:
      1. requested by an official IHS office or activity and
      2. approved by the organization's designated approving official.  Each organization can delegate this at its discretion, but a single point of contact for each organization/program office is required.  Only employees with written delegated authority to broadcast messages will be given broadcast access on the IHS network through their respective IT staff.
      3. Technical specifications and requirements for distribution of IHS-wide messages must meet all of the following criteria (unless waived by the authorized approving official):
        1. Messages must be in plain American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) and entirely contained in a message of fewer than 20,000 characters.
        2. Each line must be no longer than 72 characters and terminated by a hard carriage return.
        3. No special characters are allowed (e.g., underscores, italics, etc.).  This is necessary to ensure the message is readable to all systems receiving it.
        4. Attachments shall not be allowed.  Attachments double the impact on e-mail systems.  Instead of attachments, the message should contain a Web URL(s) that links to the attachment(s).
        5. All messages must use a subject line of no more than 23 characters in length.  (Some systems truncate after 23 characters.)
        6. All messages must clearly indicate the originating office and the subject at the top of the message.
        7. Graphics composed of ASCII characters are strongly discouraged since they tend to appear garbled on various systems.
        8. Messages must be sent from an address with a working mailbox to receive replies.
        9. References to Web sites should be preceded with http:// or https:// (This will allow the Web sites to be hyperlinked automatically in many mail systems.)