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2160.2B CIO GSA Electronic Messaging and Related Services

Date: 06/16/2011
Status: Validated
Outdated on: 06/16/2021

           Washington, DC 20417

CIO 2160.2B
June 16, 2011

SUBJECT:  GSA Electronic Messaging and Related Services

1.  Purpose.  This Order updates GSA's directive on electronic messaging due to the move from a server-based messaging system to cloud-based e-mail and collaboration tools and additional federal requirements for managing electronic mail records.  This directive addresses security, appropriate use, and recordkeeping of the GSA Enterprise Messaging Services (GEMS) in a cloud-based environment.

2.  Cancellation.  This Order cancels CIO 2160.2A.

3.  Applicability.  This Order applies to all authorized users who are granted access to GEMS and to all communications sent or received via GEMS.    

4.  Directive.  All authorized users must comply with Federal laws and regulations relative to GEMS use, which are listed in Appendix A, References.  The misuse of GEMS by authorized users can severely hamper the Agency's ability to conduct business and accomplish its mission. It is essential that users learn how to use electronic mail and collaborative tools efficiently, effectively, and courteously, practicing good security, records management, and using e-mail in a responsible, professional, and lawful manner.  Additionally, users have an obligation to be aware of computer security and privacy concerns and to guard against computer viruses.  The Agency reserves the right to limit authorized users' electronic messaging access following evidence that shows prohibited or inappropriate use of the system or such use that creates an appearance of impropriety in the public view.  Prohibited use is that which is forbidden by, or fails to comply with Federal laws, regulations or GSA directives.

5.  Reporting Violations.  All suspected violations of Federal laws and regulations relative to GEMS use; such as, security or privacy breaches, violations of Agency policy, malicious or otherwise prohibited use, shall be reported to
the Information System Security Officer (ISSO) and/or Information System Security Manager (ISSM).  ISSOs/ISSMs must report security incidents to the GSA Senior Agency Information Security Officer (SAISO) in accordance with CIO Procedural Guide 01-02, “Security Incident Handling.”  The SAISO will determine which security incidents should be reported to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).  The SAISO also will report incidents to the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) in accordance with CIO Procedural Guide 01-02.  All incidents involving Personally Identifiable Information must be reported to the OSAISO within one hour of discovering the incident. There should be no distinction between suspected and confirmed breaches.  Anyone needing assistance in determining whether a violation has occurred may contact their local ISSO/ISSM for assistance.  For ISSO, ISSM and OSAISO points of contact go

6.  E-mail accounts and files.

     a.  E-mail account.  An account is established between an authorized user and GEMS for the purpose of creating, sending, and receiving electronic mail messages.  E-mail accounts are accessed using your GSA Active Directory Credentials. 

          (1)  GSA provides annual security training for authorized users to take at the initiation of their account and to be taken annually thereafter.  Any authorized user of GEMS who fails to complete the annual GSA security training will have their e-mail account disabled.  Accounts will be reinstated upon verification of the completion of the annual security training. 

          (2)  System administrators, responsible for continued operation, maintenance, availability and accessibility of assigned system(s), will monitor all e-mail accounts for indication of inactivity.  An "inactivity warning" notification will be sent to the user of any e-mail account not accessed in a 30-day period and to designated points of contact.  If an e-mail account has not been accessed in a 45-day period, the e-mail account will be considered "inactive" and the e-mail account suspended.  Any e-mail account that has not been accessed in a 60-day period will be terminated.

     b.  E-mail and related functionality. 

          (1)  An Active Directory Account is required to access an e-mail account and related functionality within a limited storage space capacity.  An individual e-mail account consists of an Inbox, Sent, Trash and other user-created folders for use in the creation, sending, receiving and organization of electronic mail messages, attachments, user-saved instant messages, and Mp3 voicemail messages received through the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone integration.  Additional features of GEMS include calendaring, instant messaging, and collaboration tools for sharing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings. 

          (2)  In addition to individual e-mail, a separate archive repository stores all inbound and outbound email messages and their attachments sent or received through the domain for e-discovery purposes for 180 days.  This period of retention may be extended if the employee is under a litigation hold.  The repository will also be used for indefinite storage of litigation hold information. 

          (3)  All messages and their associated attachments sent and received will be scanned for viruses.  Messages containing viruses will be cleaned and forwarded to the intended recipient(s) electronically.  If a message is unable to be cleaned, that message will be quarantined and not forwarded. 

          (4)  Messages larger than 25 megabytes (MB) will not be sent or received.

7.  Electronic message control.

  a.  Message privacy.  GSA provides electronic messaging services to authorized users, at GSA expense, for their use on GSA or other Government business.  All electronic communications sent or received are owned by the Federal Government.  The Agency may access any message sent over its electronic services for a legitimate Governmental purpose.  Occasional personal use of the electronic services that involves minimal expense to the Government and does not interfere with Government business is authorized.  However, authorized users have no expectation of privacy with regard to electronic messages, official or personal, sent through the Government-provided electronic messaging services. 

     b.  Monitoring

          (1)  Obtaining access to GSA resources constitutes acknowledgment that monitoring activities may be conducted. 

          (2) Users have no expectation of privacy on GSA IT systems.  All activity on GSA IT systems is subject to monitoring.           

          (3) GSA performs electronic monitoring of e-mail messages transmitted out of the GEMS environment for leakage of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and/or sensitive data (e.g., Social Security Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, etc.) without required encryption as stipulated in paragraph 7.c.

          (4) In the performance of their duties to ensure system reliability, the GEMS system administrators/managers regularly monitor the efficient functioning of electronic messaging services, not the content of messages.  These system administrators/managers review the system logs created by the various electronic messaging services to analyze service delivery problems.  The logs usually contain information about each message, including sender address, receiver address, size of message, and date and time of day, but not the content of the message.  These logs are retained locally for 14 days and then destroyed, if they are not being used for problem analysis.  System administrators/managers only open e-mail messages and review their content when attempting to locate a message, pursuant to a request by an approved official or an OIG investigator. 

          (5)  If system administrators/managers find indications of illegal activity, violations of Agency policy or security, they will report their findings to the appropriate ISSO/ISSM.  ISSO/ISSMs must report security incidents to the OCIO SAISO in accordance with CIO Procedural Guide 01-02.  The SAISO will report incidents to the OIG in accordance with that Procedural Guide.  All incidents involving PII must be reported to the OSAISO within one hour of discovering the incident. There should be no distinction between suspected and confirmed breaches.  Any incident which involves PII and could result in identify theft must be handled in accordance with the procedures outlined in GSA Order CIO P 2100.1G. 

           (6)  Supervisors may request the review of the electronic messages of anyone they supervise, if they have reason to suspect there has been any breach of security, violations of GSA policy or other misconduct on the part of the associate.  This may include inspection of the contents of electronic messages disclosed in the course of such monitoring or any follow up inquiry, if necessary to serve an official purpose.  The supervisor will be required to explain the need to gain access to the suspected individual's message files in writing along with the purpose for seeking access to the content of the individual's messages.  The request must go to the GSA Office of the CIO GEMS management.  The next level of authority to whom the requesting supervisor reports within GSA, if any, will instruct or authorize further steps and actions based upon findings of the request and seek the advice of the General Counsel and Chief People Officer. 

          (7)  It is a misuse of Federal Government time and resources and a violation of this directive for anyone, including system administrators, managers, and supervisors, to peruse electronic mail or other electronic messages, or use Agency computer systems in any fashion to satisfy idle curiosity about the affairs of others, with no business purpose for obtaining access to the files or communications of others.  Anyone engaging in "snooping" is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal. 

     c.  Message encryption.  Message encryption is the use of software to render a message unreadable to everyone except the sender and its intended recipient.  Users shall send external E-mail messages including sensitive information, such as PII, procurement sensitive information, etc., as deemed by the data owner, with GSA provided encryption that uses certified encryption modules in accordance with FIPS PUB 140-2, “Security requirements for Cryptographic Modules,” or using WINZIP with FIPS-197 certified Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). 

     d.  Disclosure

          (1)  Electronic messages may be treated as Agency records for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.  As such, electronic messages or portions of them may be required to be disclosed upon a proper request.  Additionally, they may be disclosed pursuant to discovery in a legal proceeding or upon request by Congress.  The contents of electronic messages, properly obtained for Federal Government purposes, may be disclosed within the Agency for an official purpose without the permission of the authorized user who created the message.  Whenever practicable, however, the author of the message will be informed regarding further dissemination of the message. 

          (2)  The Agency may disclose information regarding the number, sender, recipient and addresses of electronic communications sent over the electronic messaging services as authorized by law. 

8.  Appropriate use

     a.  When using GEMS, users are doing so as employees and/or representatives of GSA and the Federal Government. Users should at all times seek to promote a positive image for GSA and the Federal Government.  They should be careful about how they represent themselves, given that what they say or do could be interpreted as GSA or Federal Government opinion.  Users should be aware that their conduct could reflect on the reputation of GSA, the Federal Government, and its associates. 

     b.  All users have an obligation to learn about e-mail etiquette, customs, and courtesies.  Certain procedures and guidelines should be followed when using electronic mail communications, participating in electronic mail discussion groups, and sending attachments.   

     c.  All users have an obligation to be aware of computer security and privacy concerns and to guard against computer viruses.  Users who load files brought in from outside sources on Federal Government computers, then send the files as e-mail attachments, present a heightened risk in this area, unless the users first virus-scan all outgoing attachments before the e-mail is sent out.  Always exercise caution when addressing e-mail messages, as there are users of the Agency's services who are not Agency associates.  This will help to avoid inadvertently sending a message meant for GSA associates and authorized users to outsiders.  Finally, never use e-mail for transmitting or storing classified data.

     d.  Users must exercise caution in conveying sensitive or non-public information. Such information should be treated with the same care as paper documents conveying the same information.  Sensitive information is that which would be withheld from disclosure under Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, procurement-sensitive information, proprietary information of GSA service partners and suppliers, or other information deemed sensitive by the Agency.   

9.  Inappropriate Use.

  a.  Conveying of classified data or information.  Users shall never convey classified data or information in any messages sent over the GSA electronic mail system. 

     b.  Unlawful or malicious activities are prohibited.  The activities include, but are not limited to: 

          (1)  Use of offensive, abusive, discriminatory or objectionable language or graphics in either public or private messages; 

          (2)  Use of lewd or sexually explicit language or graphics that are inappropriate or offensive to co-workers or the public, such as the use of sexually explicit materials, or materials or remarks that ridicule others on the basis of race, creed, religion, color, sex, handicap, national origin, or sexual orientation; 

          (3)  Using GEMS to misrepresent oneself, GSA, or the Federal Government; 

          (4)  Using GEMS to "snoop" on or invade another person's privacy merely to satisfy idle curiosity and with no legitimate Federal Governmental purpose; 

          (5)  Any use that reflects adversely on GSA or the Federal Government;

          (6)  Transmitting any material pertaining to GSA, the Federal Government, or any agency employee or official that is libelous or defamatory; and 

          (7)  Automatically forwarding E-mail messages from GSA E-mail addresses to any non-Federal E-mail account(s) or addresses. 

     c.  Malicious use and denial of service.  Unlawful or malicious activities that would result in a denial of service to other users and abuse of resources are prohibited.  Malicious Use is designed to embarrass, harm or otherwise cause others to suffer. Denial of service is one type of malicious use.  Denial of service is any activity that interferes with official GSA or Federal Government business by overloading resources, or blocking access to any resources.  Abuse of resources is use that results in no benefit to GSA or the Government, and causes the Agency additional expenses through increased load on networks, systems and staff.  Examples are transmitting sexually explicit or offensive material, non-business related large attachments, chain letters, unauthorized mass mailings, or intentionally sending a virus/worm.

     d.  Abuse of resources.  Abuse of resources refers to any use of Federal Government time or resources that results in no benefit to the Federal Government.  Examples include but are not limited to: 

          (1)  Joining electronic discussion groups (listservs, newsgroups, etc.) that are not Federal Government business-related and result in mailings to an authorized user at work; 

          (2)  Any use for an authorized user's own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service, or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives or persons with whom the authorized user is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the authorized user is an officer or member, and persons with whom the authorized user has, or seeks, employment or business relations; and 

          (3)  The use of the electronic messaging services to solicit Agency authorized users for any purpose not related to official Federal Government business.

     e.  Inappropriate signature block content.  The signature block is the part of an e-mail message that contains the sender's contact information.  This information usually consists of at least the sender's name and phone number.  A signature block might also include additional information, such as job title, department/organization, mailing/office address, e-mail address, fax or cell phone numbers, business web site address, business slogan, etc.  A signature block is typically located at the end of an e-mail message.  Signature blocks are intended to be used as a method of providing sender contact information to message recipients.  Only GSA and GSA business-related slogans may be used as part of a message signature block.  In addition, use of graphics in the signature block should be limited and is restricted to GSA and GSA business-related logos, such as the GSA logo/seal. 

10.  Record keeping of e-mail messages.

       a.  E-mail recordkeeping is governed by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) directives.  Authorized users are responsible for maintaining their files within assigned storage limitations and NARA records management requirements.  Authorized users are advised to apply the same decision-making process to e-mail for records maintenance and disposition that they apply to other documentary materials, regardless of the media used to create them, and store them accordingly. 

       b.  The GSA electronic mail system is not an authorized official records storage system for GSA records management purposes.  Any official records created in the GSA electronic mail system must be moved to a records management system in accordance with 36 CFR 1236.20(b).  For instance, e-mail that contains or is deemed a record should be moved to a NARA-approved document management system, a shared network drive, or the user's workstation.  If a message is determined to be a record as described in the Agency’s Records Disposition Schedule, users are responsible for ensuring those messages are not deleted before the expiration of the NARA-approved retention period.   

       c.  Non-record material (transitory documents, copies, and drafts) may be retained in an e-mail file up to 180 days in accordance with 36 CFR 1236.22.  Authorized users are responsible for reviewing their e-mail regularly and for deleting all such material as soon as it has served its purpose.  Transitory refers to documents of short-term interest having no documentary or evidential value and which normally need not be kept more than 180 days.  Examples of transitory material are: 

            (1)  Routine requests for information or publications and copies of replies that require no administrative action, no directive decision and no special compilation or research for reply.  Freedom of Information requests are not considered transitory material; 

            (2)  Originating office copies of letters of transmittal that do not add any information to that contained in the transmitted material, and the receiving office copy, filed separately from transmitted material; 

            (3)  Quasi-official notices, including memoranda and other records, that do not serve as the basis of official actions, such as notices of holidays or charity and welfare fund appeals, bond campaigns and similar correspondence; 

            (4)  Copies of documents issued to multiple recipients.  Usually, copies of documents received by recipients of e-mail are copies, not records, and should be thrown away as soon as they are not needed for reference.  However, multiple copies of the same document may meet the definition of records, if any copy is used by the recipient to transact Agency business.  Copies that have such record status are usually filed in different record-keeping systems and are used for different purposes;

            (5)  Drafts circulated for comment.  In general, draft copies are not records. However, draft documents or working papers that propose or evaluate high-level policies or decisions and provide unique information that contribute to the understanding of major decisions, must be preserved as Federal records, whether they are in printed or e-mail form; 

            (6)  Extraneous copies of records used or issued to conduct or transact official business.  Normally, only the originator copy is the record copy. 

            (7)  User-saved instant messages and Mp3 voicemail messages.

11.  Waivers.  Request for waivers to this order must be submitted to the GSA Chief Information Officer for review and approval. 

Chief Information Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer


Appendix A, References

1.  Federal Laws & Regulations.

     5 U.S.C.  § 552, the Freedom of Information Act; 

     5 U.S.C.  § 552A, the Privacy Act; 

     44 U.S.C.§ 2901 et sec., the Federal Records Act; 

     44 U.S.C § 3301, the Federal Records Disposal Act; 

     17 U.S.C. § 101 et sec., the Copyright  Act of 1976; 

     Public Law 99-474, The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986; 

     18 U.S.C. § 798, AND 50 U.S.C. § 783(b) regarding protection of Classified Information;

     18 U.S.C. § 1905, Which prohibits disclosure of proprietary information and certain other
  confidential information;

  41 U.S.C. § 423(a), which prohibits unauthorized disclosure of certain procurement-sensitive
  information, including proprietary or source selection information;

  5 C.F.R. Part 2635, Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch,  
  particularly subpart G which deals with misuse of position; and
  36 C.F.R. Parts 1220, 1222, 1228 and 1234, 1236, National Archives and Records
  Administration regulations on management of e-mail messages.

     FIPS PUB -140-2 Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules 

     FIPS PUB -197 Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), 

2.  Agency Directives.

     GSA IT Security Policy, GSA Order CIO P 2100.1G 

     GSA IT Security Procedural Guide:  Incident Response (IR)-CIO IT Security 01-102

     Personal Use of Agency Office Equipment, GSA Order ADM 7800.11A