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This story is a double edged sword.  On one hand the Washington Times has found that spending working hours on internet porn is rampant at the National Science Foundation and has grown sixfold in the past year, but on the bright side while they are screwing around on porn sites, they aren’t screwing around with the country. Like when the Foundation awarded a grant of more than $325,000 to Daniel Shain, professor at Rutgers University, to trek to Alaska in search of the elusive ice worm. Unfortunately, he and several students spent two weeks last August hunting through snow and ice for ice worms, only to come back empty‐handed. According to the Cherry Hill Courier Post, “Shain said his sixth Alaskan voyage was a continuous adventure that had everything he’d hoped for but new populations of worms.”

Taking a break from sending people out important projects such as  six-unsuccessful trips to find worms the NSF is now all wrapped up in internet porn:

…The problems at the National Science Foundation (NSF) were so pervasive they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.

“To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significantly reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud,” the inspector general recently told Congress in a budget request. “We anticipate a significant decline in investigative recoveries and prosecutions in coming years as a direct result.”

…For instance, one senior executive spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer and chatting online with nude or partially clad women without being detected, the records show.

But the guy had the girls best interests in mind, change we all can believe in:

 He even offered, among other explanations, a humanitarian defense, suggesting that he frequented the porn sites to provide a living to the poor overseas women. Investigators put the cost to taxpayers of the senior official’s porn surfing at between $13,800 and about $58,000.

“He explained that these young women are from poor countries and need to make money to help their parents and this site helps them do that,” investigators wrote in a memo.

…Documents obtained by The Times through an open records request show the foundation’s inspector general closed 10 employee misconduct investigations last year, up from just three in 2006. There were seven cases in 2007. Of the 10 cases closed last year, seven involved online pornography, records show. However, those figures don’t include pending cases.

Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for the nonpartisan watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste, called the situation “inexcusable.”

“What kind of oversight is there when they have to shift people from looking at grant fraud to watch for people looking at pornography?” she said.

Foundation spokeswoman Dana Topousis said officials have enacted more rigorous computer training and tightened controls to filter out inappropriate Internet addresses from the sites employees can access from their work computers.

Deputy Inspector General Tim Cross said despite the office’s budget request, the foundation appears to have fixed the systematic problems that allowed workers to look at pornography on the job.

He said the office’s 2010 budget request was written well in advance and that, at the time, “we were consumed with a lot of these cases.”

“The agency has done a lot to address the underlying issues in terms of getting out the message it’s not to be done and making technological changes,” he said.

The foundation’s inspector general uncovers scientific misconduct that can force the return of misused grant money to the government but told Congress it was diverted from that mission by the porn cases. .

….The pornography problem came to light earlier this year, when the inspector general’s office published short summaries of several recent cases in a semiannual report to Congress.

….”The employees who were investigated were disciplined in one way or another,” Ms. Topousis said, adding that she could not comment on individual disciplinary actions.

One foundation employee paid an unspecified sum last year after investigators found that during a three-week period in June 2008, the worker perused hundreds of pornographic Web sites during work hours. That employee received a 10-day suspension.

In an official notice of the decision, the foundation called the conduct “unprofessional and unacceptable,” but also noted the employee’s work history and lack of any previous disciplinary actions.

As for the unnamed “senior executive” who spent at least 331 days looking at pornography at work, investigators said his proclivity for pornography was common knowledge among several co-workers.

“At the same time, employees were generally reluctant to make any official report or complaint because the misconduct involved a senior staff member and employees feared that they would suffer in some form of complaining,” the investigators later wrote in a summary of the case.

Another employee in a different case was caught with hundreds of pictures, videos and even PowerPoint slide shows containing pornography. Asked by an investigator whether he had completed any government work on a day when a significant amount of pornography was downloaded, the employee responded, “Um, I can’t remember,” according to records.

The employee also said that friends sent him the pornographic files, that he never planned on viewing them and that he never got around to deleting the files, a claim one official later called “simply not believable.”

Suspended for 10 days, the employee unsuccessfully appealed the decision after arguing that it was too harsh. Other employees were terminated.

Others use the pornography as a step toward modeling careers:

Another employee who stored nude images of herself on her computer told investigators she mistakenly had downloaded the pictures. She received counseling and was told to adhere to the foundation’s policies on computer use.

The foundation is hardly the only government agency to be embarrassed by disclosures about employees looking at pornography at work.

The inspector general for the Securities and Exchange Commission noted in a report last fall that it had recently conducted three investigations into employees who misused government computers to view pornography.

THAT’S WHY they missed Madoff.

If government workers can spend all of that time with internet porn, its just further proof that the government is too big.  After all, it could do with a few less workers. Let them keep their computers and go home happy.

Find the rest of the Washington Times Story here

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