The Ethics in Public Service Act provides minimum standards to ensure employees and officials conduct state business in a manner that advances the public’s interest and not for private gain or benefit. The state ethics rules are not in place to restrict state employees from engaging in activities that have nothing to do with or will not impair or influence their state agency, business or employment position.

If you have an outside business activity, care must be taken to ensure the activity does not conflict with the proper discharge of your University responsibilities. If you are unsure whether your outside business activities create a conflict of interest, it is advised to:

  1. disclose the activity in writing to your supervisor;
  2. ensure no use of any state resources to engage in the activity; and
  3. maintain written support for approval process and/or conflict determination and mitigation plan.

In addition, under RCW 42.52.120(2), a state officer or state employee must receive Executive Ethics Board (EEB) approval before entering into, or obtaining a beneficial interest in, a contract or grant with a state agency. This means if the outside business activity includes any contracting with or invoicing of WSU, there must be a level of review to ensure no conflict exists. This review and approval are required only if the process for awarding the contract or grant was not open and competitive. The review of the contract or grant is to ensure the contract was fairly obtained (i.e., no state employee used influence of their official position to secure the contract) and to determine whether performance under the contract or grant by the state employee or state officer is in accordance with ethics rules.

If you are a current WSU employee and you wish to enter a contract with WSU or another state agency, and it is for a good or service that was not competitively bid, you must seek the approval of the EEB by providing the following information (source: WAC 292-110-060 (2)) to the EEB director at ethics@atg.wa.gov no later than thirty days prior to the commencement of the contract or grant:

  • a description of current official (WSU) duties and responsibilities;
  • a statement of the work to be performed (for the contract) and a copy of the contract or grant;
  • the duration and dollar value of the contract or grant, if applicable;
  • a statement that no state resources will be used to perform or to fulfill the contract or grant;
  • a description of how the work will be performed without the use of state resources; and
  • a statement that the employing agency (employee’s supervisor) has reviewed or approved the outside contract or grant under applicable rules or policies.

As with any other process requiring review and approval, maintain a copy of the determinations for your records. As always, you may reach out to Internal Audit (ia.central@wsu.edu) or EEB (ethics@atg.wa.gov) if you have any questions or need assistance.