Ethics In Public Service Act

The Ethics In Public Service Act, Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 42.52, became effective in 1995. RCW 42.52 consolidated a number of prior Ethics laws which had been in place and provided ethics rules for different groups of state employees and officers. RCW 42.52 was intended to create one set of ethics standards which would apply to all state employees and officers. The Executive Ethics Board plays a key role in maintaining ethics accountability in the executive branch of Washington state government (see the following section for more information.)

The ethics law establishes high ethical and public service standards and holds state employees and officers accountable to the public in many areas including outside consulting, using university facilities and equipment, outside business interests and conflicts of interest. The Ethics in Public Service law applies to all state officers and state employees, including those at state universities such as Western Washington University (WWU).

Executive Ethics Board

There are 5 executive Ethics Board Members appointed by the Governor. The Board has broad authorities for interpreting and enforcing the state’s ethics law, to include:

  • Development of educational materials;
  • Ethics training;
  • Adoption of rules and policies implementing provisions of RCW 42.52
  • Advisory Opinions;
  • Investigation of complaints; and
  • Imposition of sanctions for violations of the ethics law.

Potential penalties for violating the ethic’s law include:

  1. A civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per violation or three times the economic value of any thing sought or received in violation of the ethics law;
  2. Restitution; and
  3. Recovery of investigative costs

Ethics Questions and Contact Information

Under the ETHICS LINKS section below, you will find links to the law, university policy, a summary of highlights and Executive Ethics Board web pages. We hope that they are helpful in answering your questions or providing you with general ethics information.

We encourage Western faculty and staff with ethics related questions to first discuss the issue with the department or division supervisor such as a Chair in an academic department. If you need further advice, you can contact the following Western employees or Assistant Attorney General:

Antonia Allen
Director, Office of the Internal Auditor

Kerena Higgins
Assistant Attorney General, Education Team Leader

Reporting Potential Ethics Violations

Our Improper Governmental Action web page discusses two methods for reporting potential ethical violations.

You can also contact the Washington State Executive Ethics Board.

Ethics Links

Western’s Using University Resources Policy (POL-U1500.08)

Gift Rules

Door Prizes

Food and Beverages Provided By Persons or Organizations Outside of the University

Western Washington University’s Honorarium Form

Washington State Executive Ethics Board Web Site

Washington State Executive Ethics Boards Frequently Asked Questions

Washington RCW 42.52 – Ethics In Public Service Act

Washington WAC 292-110-010 – Use of Resources

Page Updated 06.06.2018