OCTOBER 05, 2006
Employees at the Department of the Interior regularly spend work hours viewing sexually explicit and gambling web sites on their government-issued computers even though federal regulation expressly prohibits it.
A 15-page report published by the department’s Office of Inspector General and appropriately titled “Excessive Indulgences,” details the rampant violations among many of the agency’s 80,000 employees during taxpayer-funded time.
In one week alone, more than 4,700 log entries were for sexually explicit and gambling web sites and an additional 1 million were for auction sites. Several of those spent more than 30 minutes on the sexually explicit sites and a few others spent about 14 hours on internet game sites, all during work time.
The report calls these actions egregious and alarming and concludes that, not only has it cost the agency an estimated 104,221 hours in lost productivity over a year, it also exposes the department to costly legal liability. Additionally, the report says these actions degrade system resources and compromise system integrity not to mention public embarrassment.
A few employees have been disciplined for internet policy violations however, the number of disciplinary actions is minimal compared to the level of activity. The Inspector General concludes that the inaction sends the violators a message that there are no consequences.
This lack of accountability in a massive government agency with an annual budget of $16.4 billion is outrageous. The Department of the Interior has eight big bureaus that manage federal lands, provide resources for nearly one-third of the nation’s energy and manage 561 federally recognized Indian Tribes. But as one news report points out, Interior Department employees aren’t just using their computers to oversee parks and wildlife.
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