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Directives, Policies, and Guidelines

All activities will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and in accordance with established Smithsonian policies, directives, and procedures. The Smithsonian provides accurate and comprehensive information about its finances, operations and activities to the public, Congress and other stakeholders. The Smithsonian values and promotes inclusiveness and diversity in all of its activities. Noncompliance may be cause for disciplinary action that can range from training to dismissal.  

Smithsonian Directives

Smithsonian Directives (SDs) consist of formal, Institution-wide policies regarding SI administration, management, and programming. Although there are dozens of current SDs, there are several that are particularly pertinent to interns, as listed below. Once you receive SI Network Access, the full text of these directives can be found on SI’s Internal Prism site. 

SD709: Rules and regulations specific to academic appointees 

Conflicts of Interest: we must ensure that we act in the best interest of the Smithsonian at all times. This requires avoiding even the appearance that someone’s personal gain has priority over the Smithsonian.     

Use of the Smithsonian Name or Intern Association: An Intern, Fellow or Research Associate can use their Smithsonian title on a resume. They cannot speak at a convention using this title without first receiving clearance from their supervisor.  

Prohibition of Gifts: Nobody at the Smithsonian may solicit or accept gifts based on their association with the Smithsonian for performance of an official act. Gifts do not include things generally available to the public.  A gift also does not include perks offered by the Smithsonian to its associates such as discounts at Smithsonian stores and cafeterias.  

Prohibition on Private Uses: We can’t directly or indirectly use property or resources not available to the general public for purposes unrelated to our official duties.    

Personal Expression: We represent the Smithsonian and are perceived as speaking for the Smithsonian.  We must use caution when expressing personal beliefs, opinions, or judgments to ensure no one thinks we are stating an official Smithsonian position.  

Social Media: Academic appointees represent the Smithsonian and the tone of our social media accounts that identify our association with the Smithsonian should be professional, dignified, and respectful. We must avoid giving any impression that you are speaking in an official capacity.  

Political Activities: The Smithsonian is a quasi-federal organization and complies with the federal Hatch Act which prohibits any of us from participating in political activity while (1) on duty or (2) on or using Smithsonian property or resources. The goal is to remain politically neutral and not appear to be supporting one party, politician or cause over another.     

Restriction on Disclosure of Information: None of us may disclose any Smithsonian information that is of a confidential, sensitive or contrary to the best interests of the Smithsonian.


Policies and Guidelines

The Smithsonian is a public trust operating on behalf of the American People. We are committed to following the highest standards of conduct. The Smithsonian Code of Ethics and the Guiding Principles apply to everyone who is associated with the Smithsonian (board members, employees, interns, fellows, volunteers, contractors, and research associates). Each member of the Smithsonian community is expected to act with honesty, integrity, openness, accountability, and a commitment to excellence. In accepting your internship, you agree to follow Institution-wide policies. Failure to abide by these policies could be grounds for termination of your academic appointment.  

Working with Minors 

The Smithsonian expects everyone who works with minors to act in accordance with its Code of Conduct for the Protection of Minors. This code of conduct sets forth behavioral guidelines to ensure that all Smithsonian employees and affiliated persons act in a safe and responsible manner toward minors (people under eighteen years of age).  

Equal Opportunity/Workplace Harassment

We are all partners in fostering an inclusive workplace that values differences and allows each individual to achieve and maintain excellence. The Smithsonian is committed to ensuring that all members of the community are treated with respect and provided a safe environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. If you have concerns about discrimination and harassment or believe that you may have been discriminated, you can seek assistance in addressing your concerns or filing an informal complaint of discrimination by contacting an EEO counselor in the Office of Equal Employment and Supplier Diversity (OEESD) within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory action. 

For more information, consult the EEO Rights and Responsibilities packet

Computer and Network Use 

Smithsonian computers and email are to be used only for Smithsonian-related activities. You are required to sign a Computer User Agreement and participate in computer security training. No one should expect privacy while using Smithsonian computers, networks, and email accounts.  

You are in violation of Smithsonian policies and risk termination of your academic appointment if you:  

  • Harass or threaten other users or interfere with their access to SI computing facilities 

  • Send or forward racially, sexually or ethnically offensive messages 

  • Send material that is slanderous or libelous or that involves defamation of character 

  • Plagiarize, send fraudulent email or gamble 

  • Break into another user’s computer or mailbox 

  • Lobby an elected official, promote a political candidate or promote a personal, social, religious or political cause regardless of worthiness 

  • Search for or use websites that involve hate groups or racially offensive or sexually explicit material 

  • Send malicious programs such as computer viruses 

  • Promote ventures involving personal profit  

  • Participate in activities that promote computer crime or misuse, including, but not limited to, posting or disclosing passwords, credit card and other account numbers and system vulnerabilities 

  • Violate any software licensing agreement, especially by distributing software 

  • Infringe on any copyright or other intellectual property right 

  • Send mass mailings of a non-business nature or participate in chain letters 

  • Disclose confidential business information 


All Smithsonian Interns are strongly advised to carry health insurance. Please contact your insurance carrier to ensure you are covered during your appointment.  

In the event that a Smithsonian intern is injured or injures another person, or damages the property of another, the Smithsonian’s liability for such will be determined by the same criteria established for employees under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act or the Federal Tort Claim Act. The Office of the General Counsel handles issues of this nature. 

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