Incidental Personal Use of Electronic Resources Guidelines


These Guidelines support Georgetown University Policy 401.0, Professional Conduct, specifically section 401.3, Procedures and the University Acceptable Use Policy. They clarify the terms “unauthorized use” and “personal business” and reflect changes in business processes.


The technology services provided by the University to its community is intended to support and promote the exchange of ideas, thoughts, purpose and service; to facilitate the furtherance of research, academia, and equality under the framework of cura personalis; and to engage with the world around us in the rich tradition of our Jesuit heritage. The collection of technology tools, systems, services, subscriptions, licenses, hardware, and software that comprise the University information systems is delivered to faculty, staff, students, and associates in accordance with the University’s policies and commitment to excellence. In order to continue to provide this collection and maintain our obligation to a safe, secure, and reliable cyber environment, the University must enable certain limits on the use of these resources.


The University recognizes that its community members of faculty, staff, and students may occasionally need to make personal use of University electronic resources and does not wish to prohibit such use altogether. The overriding principle that should govern personal use of these resources is that reasonable and incidental unofficial use of University electronic resources is authorized only so long as

(i) the University incurs no additional cost from that use, other than the minimal cost incurred from ordinary wear and tear and the use of minimal amounts of ink, toner, or paper; and

(ii) the use does not inappropriately interfere with official business; and

(iii) the use is not associated with information, events, or activities that impact or reflect negatively on the University.

Technology users shall use University-provided electronic resources and services primarily for official business, but may make and receive personal communications, including telephone calls during business hours, that are necessary and in the interest of the University. Examples of personal communications that are in the interest of the University include: communications to alert household members about working late or other schedule changes; communications to make alternative child care arrangements; communications with doctors, hospital staff, or day care providers; communications to determine the safety of family or household members, particularly in an emergency; communications to make funeral arrangements; communications to reach businesses or Government agencies that can only be contacted during work hours; and communications to arrange emergency repairs to vehicles or residences.

Incidental personal use of electronic resources must not adversely affect the performance of official duties or the organization’s work performance, must not be disruptive of colleagues and peers, must be of limited duration and frequency and should be restricted to matters that cannot be addressed during non-duty hours.

To the extent as staff or faculty member is forced by business circumstances to make personal use of University-owned devices, such use should be incidental and immaterial. Appropriate reimbursement for any additional costs incurred by the University because of incidental use should be paid on a pro rata basis.

Examples of inappropriate uses of University technology resources may include but are not limited to:

  • Any personal use that could cause congestion, delay, or disruption of service to any University unit. For example, electronic greeting cards, video, sound or other large file attachments to electronic communications can degrade the performance of the entire computer network, as can some uses of “push” technology, such as audio and video streaming from the Internet.
  • Use for commercial purposes, in support of “for-profit” activities or in support of other outside employment or business activity (e.g., commercial consulting for pay, sales or administration of business transactions, sale of goods or services). The definition of “commercial purposes” in this example is consistent with the Faculty Handbook and the Code of Conduct for Officers and Senior Administrators (#1007).
  • Political use that is inconsistent with current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rulings.
  • The creation, copying, transmission, or retransmission of chain letters or other unauthorized mass mailings, regardless of the subject matter, noting that the Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy and the Solicitation and Distribution Policy from the [HR Policy Manual] take precedence over these Guidelines.
  • Any excessive use for personal or other non-official purposes.

It is a joint responsibility of technology administrators and end users to ensure that the incidental personal use of technology resources is kept to a minimum. Abuses and misuses are monitored and reported to the appropriate offices.