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Douglas County Personnel Rules

Douglas County Personnel Rule #20

DOUGLAS COUNTY EMPLOYEE ETHICS

20.1        Douglas County Employee Ethics .

20.1.1    Employees of Douglas County have demonstrated a commitment to excellent standards of ethical conduct  and are entitled to a clear statement of policy regarding ethics.  This rule is intended to help employees avoid ethical problems and to protect the public trust by establishing general limitations on activities that are contrary to legitimate interests of County government.

20.1.2    County employees shall not participate in any activity that violates the provisions of the State of Oregon Code of Ethics for government officers, employees, and agents as set forth in ORS 244.040.  The State Code of Ethics establishes minimum restrictions on the activities of County employees, but an act prohibited by the provisions of subsections 20.1.3 through 20.1.9 of this rule may subject a County employee to disciplinary action regardless of whether the prohibited act violates ORS 244.040.  This rule neither incorporates nor limits other requirements of ORS Chapter 244, including statutes concerning declarations of potential conflicts of interest and reporting.  Compliance with those statutes will not excuse a violation of this rule.

20.1.3    Except as otherwise allowed by these rules, County funds, personnel, time, equipment, supplies, materials, services, property, or facilities that are in the custody of a County employee shall be used only for duly authorized County business.  On separation from County service, a County employee shall return to County all property in the possession of the employee including all keys to County facilities.  If an employee fails to return such property, the County may institute legal action to recover direct and indirect damages suffered by the County including the cost of replacing locks to County facilities.

20.1.4    Except for wages, fringe benefits, and reimbursement of expenses authorized by these personnel rules, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment contract, no County employee shall use, or permit the use of, county funds, personnel, time, equipment, supplies, materials, services, property, or facilities to confer an appreciable pecuniary or material benefit on the employee.  This rule shall not prohibit:

20.1.4.1  Private use of county property which is available on equal terms to the public generally (such as the use of library books or parks).

20.1.4.2  Use of county vehicles as permitted in rule 18.5.3.

20.1.4.3  Occasional, infrequent use of County telephones for personal calls that do not substantially interfere with the employee's job performance.  This exception does not allow personal use of the County's outgoing long distance telephone service or the incoming "800" service or cellular telephones.

20.1.4.4  Occasional, infrequent, personal use of County materials that have negligible value such as pencils, pens, or note paper.

20.1.4.5  Use of equipment, supplies, materials, or facilities that may be provided by the County for the benefit of both the employee and the County, so long as the employee does not receive any direct pecuniary benefit.  This exception may include, but is not limited to, use of computers, training materials, and other similar items that are used to develop an employee's job skills or  to improve technical proficiency that appreciably benefits the County.

20.1.4.6  Although this rule allows de minimis use of county systems and equipment for personal use, the same may not be true under ORS Chapter 244, the Government Standard and Practices Act.  Personal use of county systems and equipment is at the user´s risk.  The county cannot indemnify nor defend a county employee accused of an ethics violation.

20.1.5    No County employee shall participate in any decision, or use his or her position or access to influence a decision by the County to employ, or enter into a contract for procurement of goods or services with, a relative of the employee, a member of the employee's household, or someone who shares financial interests with the employee.

20.1.6    No County employee shall use, or permit the use of, county funds, personnel, time, equipment, supplies, materials, services, property, or facilities to confer any pecuniary or material benefit to any person who is not entitled to such benefit through a valid contract with the County, County ordinance, order or resolution of the Board of Commissioners, express County policy, or a valid claim against the County.  In no event shall a County employee expend, or permit expenditure of, County funds for any unauthorized purpose in violation of ORS 294.100.

20.1.7    Except as provided in subsection 20.1.9, no County employee shall engage in any remunerative outside employment, maintain a pecuniary interest in a business, or receive a direct or indirect pecuniary benefit from a business or other activity that:

20.1.7.1  Provides goods or services to the County for consideration;

20.1.7.2  Provides goods or services to customers or clients who are acquired through contacts with the employee in the course of employment with the County; or

20.1.7.3  Profits from, or receives an advantage or privilege from, the employee's position with the County;

20.1.7.4  Uses information available to the employee through his or her position that is not available to the general public; or

20.1.7.5  Conflicts with the proprietary or governmental interests of the County.

20.1.8    For purposes of rule 20.1.7 any business or other activity that provides direct pecuniary benefits to a member of the employee's household, or someone who shares financial interests with the employee, will be presumed to confer an indirect benefit on the employee, but the employee may provide information to rebut that presumption.

20.1.9    A County employee may receive direct or indirect benefits through a contract or other transaction apparently within the scope of subsection 20.1.7 if the following requirements are met:

20.1.9.1  The employee submits written application to the Department Head for permission to engage in the outside activity;

20.1.9.2  The employee's Department Head and the Human Resources Director review the employee's request and make a written recommendation to the Board of Commissioners; and 

20.1.9.3  The Board of Commissioners either makes a written determination that the employment or activity does not violate subsection 20.1.7 or grants an exception.  An exception may be granted if there is no appreciable connection between the employee's service to the County and the outside activity; the activity does not violate subsections 20.1.2 through 20.1.6 of this rule; the activity complies with all applicable statutes and rules governing public contracts; and the activity does not interfere with, adversely affect, or influence the employee's job performance.  The Board of Commissioners will consider and address the recommendation of the Department Head and the Human Resources Director in determining whether the outside activity affects the employee's job performance.

20.1.10  Each Department Head shall be responsible for notifying employees of the requirements of this rule and for taking appropriate action if an employee violates the provisions of this rule.  If a Department Head fails to take any action on a violation of this rule, the Board of Commissioners may intervene to initiate appropriate action.  The Board of Commissioners shall enforce this rule with respect to the activities of Department Heads.

20.1.11   Any employee who violates the provisions of subsections 20.1.2 through 20.1.10 this rule shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination.