1.1 Purpose

This policy recognizes that it may be necessary to include links on the Office of the State Treasurer’s (OST) web site to web sites outside the OST’s control. The purpose of this policy is to clearly state that OST’s web site is not a public forum for communication and debate. Links to external web sites from OST pages are established and retained at the discretion of OST. The policy also provides guidelines on when links to external sources are inappropriate.

The Purpose of OST’s web site is to promote public service to citizens and businesses by:

  • Expanding business and citizen access to government services and government information;
  • Offering an easy and convenient process to conduct online transactions with state government;
  • Accelerating the delivery of quality online government services;
  • Improving the level of customer service from state government; and
  • Extending online government services to all citizens in Washington State.

1.2 Definitions

“Office of the State Treasurer web site” or “OST web site” shall mean the internet portal operated and maintained by OST (tre.wa.gov). The OST web site is not a forum for public communication and debate. The criteria outlined in this policy have been established to ensure that the OST web site remains a non-public forum.

“Office of the State Treasurer internet properties”, “Office of the State Treasurer web pages” and “Web pages operated by the Office of the State Treasurer” shall mean web pages whose content is under the direction and control of OST, including OST public web site, and other OST web sites. (These terms do not include intranet sites controlled or operated by OST.)

“External Web site” shall mean all web sites other than the OST web site.

1.3 Applicability

This policy applies to the OST web site and other OST web site properties. This policy is not intended, and shall not be construed, to prohibit external content that is:

  • Required or authorized by law;
  • Constitutes official government business;
  • Furthers the specific purpose of a government organization’s web page; or
  • On Web pages not operated by OST.

External content therefore includes, but is not limited to, links and acknowledgements on pages operated by OST. It may be in the public interest to include on the website operated by OST:

  • Links to resources that are provided by others on web sites outside of OST control; and
  • Public acknowledgement of sponsors or other contributors of resources to allow OST to expand the on-line information and services.

Links to the following types of web pages may be included in the OST web site:

  • Other Governmental Units & Educational Institutions — OST may provide links to other federal, state, and local governmental units that provide additional services and information that the OST web site users may find of interest.
  • Private Organizations — OST may provide links to private organizations if these organizations offer services that complement the purpose, information and services offered by OST and if the links meet the Acceptance Criteria stated in this policy.
  • Social Media – OST may link to external content on social media platforms.
  • Mapping Applications – In limited circumstances, OST may link to external websites that provide mapping applications to assist OST customers and others in visiting specific locations.

OST may provide links to web sites that are not controlled, maintained, or regulated by OST, and as such OST is not responsible for the content of those web sites.

Use of information obtained from external web sites is voluntary. Any information obtained from an external web site is not guaranteed by OST and the user should review the accuracy of any information before relying upon it. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise does not represent endorsement or recommendation by OST.

1.4 Guidelines for Establishing a Link from OST’s Web site to an External Web site

Using the following Acceptance Criteria, OST will review every link and decide whether it is appropriate and relevant:

  1. The External Web site corresponds with the Purpose of OST.
  2. The External Web site is appropriate with respect to the Purpose of OST. An inappropriate web site may include, but is not limited to:
    • A web site which charges a fee for products or services online;
    • A web site that exhibits hate, bias, discrimination, pornography, libelous or otherwise defamatory content;
    • A web site that advocates or promotes the use of alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs;
    • A web site that lobbies, advocates, or advances the policies and priorities of a particular industry, organization or enterprise. This includes sites of non-profit organizations;
    • A web site that belongs to or supports a political affiliation;
    • A web site that furthers the agenda of a political organization or candidate running for office;
    • A web site that promotes or makes available adult or sexually oriented entertainment or materials;
    • A web site that promotes, opposes, or makes available weapons or gambling.

Additionally, OST reserves the right to deny links if it determines that a web site contains misleading or unsubstantiated claims, conflicts with the Purpose of OST or does not meet one or more of the criteria set forth in this policy.

1.5 Guidelines for Establishing a Link to the OST Web site From an External Web site

Advance permission to link to the OST website is not necessary; however, web site users should be aware that the OST web site sub pages, including the pages of other state agencies and local governments, may change at any time without notice. Anyone linking to the OST web site should continuously verify links to sub pages. Anyone linking to the OST web site shall not display the OST web pages within frames, present the OST content as its own, or otherwise misrepresent OST content, and they should not misinform users about the origin or ownership of OST content. Certain information on OST may be trademarked, service-marked, or otherwise protected as intellectual property. Protected intellectual property must be used in accordance with state and federal laws and must reflect the proper ownership of the intellectual property.

1.6 Removal of Content

OST reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to remove links if it determines that an external web site contains misleading or unsubstantiated claims, conflicts with the Purpose of OST, or does not meet one or more of the criteria set forth herein.

Links from the OST web site will be reviewed regularly and may be removed for any of the following reasons:

  • The link no longer points to the original information or resource to which it was intended to point;
  • The web site contains inaccurate or misleading information or has changed such that it is no longer in compliance with the acceptance criteria;
  • Access to the information has become difficult due to non-standard formatting, lengthy download times, or intrusive advertising;
  • The web site is permanently unreachable or remains unavailable for a lengthy period.

Removal of external links on the above bases will be permitted whether or not OST is legally obligated to act upon any information of which it is aware.

1.7 OST Discretion

Links to external websites from the OST website are established, retained and removed at the sole discretion of OST as directed by the Communications and Public Relations Coordinator, or designee.