Ethics in Public Service

The Ethics in Public Service – RCW 42.50 became effective in 1995. This law consolidated a number of prior ethics laws that had been in place providing ethics rules for various state employees and departments. The current law creates one set of ethics standards that 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.

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 state facilities and equipment, outside business interests and conflicts of interest. The ethics law applies to all state officers and employees including those at state universities such as Washington State University. Students employed by the University are governed by the state ethics law as an employee of the state.

This law provides that all state officers and employees have a duty to ensure the proper stewardship of state resources, and that those resources may not be used for the private benefit or gain of a state employee, officer, another employee, person, or organization.


University employees may disclose assertions of ethical violations to the Ethics Compliance Advisor or Office of Internal Audit. The University cannot provide guarantees to safeguard anonymity of an employee making a claim, however, every effort is made to maintain confidentiality. Employees may contact the Ethics Compliance Advisor at any time to receive assistance or guidance in improving controls for the prevention and detection of fraud, and/or if you have questions concerning improper activities.

Reporting Procedure