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policy > NRAO Computer Use Policy

NRAO Computer Use Policy


The computing facilities at the NRAO are the property of the United States government. They must be used in accordance with the NRAO/AUI policies on the use of government property and on appropriate conduct in the workplace, and in accordance with all relevant laws, licensing and copyright agreements, and contractual obligations.

The framework of responsible, considerate, and ethical behavior expected by the NRAO extends to the use of its computing and communications facilities, including the use of networks to which the NRAO provides computer access.

All users have access to shared resources and must recognize that their computing practices can adversely affect others. The NRAO computing facilities also provide access to resources at other institutes, and the ability to communicate with other computer users worldwide. Such access requires individual users to act responsibly and to respect the rights of other users and the integrity of computing facilities and related resources at the NRAO and elsewhere.

Users should also recognize that the content of email, of messages posted to news groups or mailing lists, and of web pages hosted on the NRAO computer facilities can all be identified as originating from the NRAO and may therefore be perceived as representing the Observatory. It is therefore necessary to apply appropriate standards of courtesy and relevance to the NRAO mission in all such communications. Except for authorized Observatory business, NRAO computing resources must not be used to communicate with government officials, with representatives of political parties, or with political action groups.


NRAO's computing and network facilities shall be used for official and authorized purposes only, and in particular may not be used for commercial purposes or financial gain.

Authorized purposes include occasional personal communications from your workplace, when such communications:

  • do not adversely affect your own performance of official duties or that of other authorized users;
  • are of short duration, and whenever possible made outside of working hours orduring scheduled breaks;
  • do not incur long distance tolls or other usage fees.

The following are examples of acceptable personal use of computing resources:

  • use of computers to enhance professional competency;
  • limited personal use of the Internet (e.g. to read news communications, to conduct brief searches, etc.);
  • limited personal use of computer printers for such purposes, when such use is non-profit-making.

Any activity at an NRAO computer facility which knowingly prevents or inhibits other users from doing their authorized work at the NRAO or elsewhere is considered misuse and may be cause for disciplinary action.


Users are responsible for maintaining secure passwords for accounts to which they have authorized access, and for taking precautions against others obtaining unauthorized access to their accounts.

Users must not monitor or tamper with another user's electronic communications, or change or delete files in any personal account, other than their own, without prior permission.

Any files that should remain confidential must be protected. No user should attempt to read another user's email or other protected files. However, the U.S. government has the right to access all files on computing facilities that it owns, and NRAO system administrators may need to access users' files under some circumstances. Users must therefore understand that absolute privacy cannot be guaranteed for any file on any NRAO computer.

Users should also respect the privacy of other users' unprotected files. Unless files are contained in areas clearly identified for common use, the privacy accorded to them should resemble that normally given to material on or in a user's desk.


Only authorized system administrators shall create accounts, or otherwise grant access to NRAO computer facilities by any user.

Users must not attempt unauthorized access of computing facilities outside of the NRAO using the NRAO computers or communications facilities.


If an employee's service is terminated for cause, their computing account(s) will be disabled immediately.

Retired or terminating employees may retain their computing accounts if they continue to perform services on behalf of the Observatory.

Otherwise, the accounts of terminating employees will normally be disabled after one month; any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the head of computing at the employee's work site and should be reviewed at intervals of not more than six months. Retired employees who do not perform services on behalf of the Observatory may be allowed a grace period of up to one year before their accounts are disabled, provided they continue to observe the computing use policy in all respects.