Porn-surfing bureaucrats plague National Science Foundation

posted at 11:36 am on September 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

This must be part of the efficiency that Barack Obama hails in government-run programs, right?  The Washington Times says that porn surfing at the National Science Foundation got so bad and wasted so much time and money that the Inspector General had to postpone investigations into grant fraud to stop it.  They will probably have to do the same thing next year, too, before they can stamp it out entirely:

Employee misconduct investigations, often involving workers accessing pornography from their government computers, grew sixfold last year inside the taxpayer-funded foundation that doles out billions of dollars of scientific research grants, according to budget documents and other records obtained by The Washington Times.

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.”

But …

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.”

One senior NSF executive spent 331 days looking at porn from the office.  In case anyone’s counting, most people work no more than 250 days out of the year, as they have 104 Saturdays and Sundays off, plus holidays and vacation.  Either he spent a lot of weekend time at the office surfing the red-light districts of the Internet or he had been doing this for more than a year before getting caught.  The Times reports that his colleagues knew of his “proclivities,” but apparently declined to do anything about it.

He did offer an interesting defense once caught, though.  It turns out that he thought the NSF was a welfare program for young, attractive single women overseas:

When finally caught, the NSF official retired. 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.

Er, okay … but even if that were the case, it’s the kind of activity one would pursue at home and not in the office at taxpayer expense.  Nor was it just the men.  One woman at NSF uploaded nude pictures of herself to her office computer.  When caught, she claimed she did it by accident.  She still has her job, although if one accepted her story at face value, we have to wonder how someone that foolish has a job in a science foundation — especially one that handles billions of dollars in federal grants.

The most important part of this story to remember is the year: 2008.  Most larger companies that have Internet access solved this problem years ago with good IT work.  The NSF employs 1200 people, and yet got caught by surprise by an epidemic of people surfing the web for porn during work hours.  This is what happens when government removes the profit motive; organizations get sloppy about productivity and effectiveness.


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We now have the explanation for how all those studies got funding that asked probing research questions in the Dude articles, like how many drinks does it take to make a coed say yes.

pedestrian on September 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM

They were just studying Human Anatomy and Physiology. What could be so wrong with that. /s

chemman on September 29, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Just like watching the Miss Universe pageant!

There was this girl I once knew who worked as a stripper and was going to the same college as I was. What did she put on her resume to describe her strip-stint? You guessed it: “Public Relations”.

newton on September 29, 2009 at 2:04 PM

The adults pervs are in charge now.

Speakup on September 29, 2009 at 2:05 PM

So I guess all that free porn I look at on the internet isn’t free. It has been payed for with my tax dollars.

ej_pez on September 29, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Sorry, but I’d rather have the agency surfing porn than enacting global warming directive and implementing other socialist programs. They are saving the taxpayers money in both the short and long term by surfing porn.

eaglewingz08 on September 29, 2009 at 2:35 PM

The Internet porn problem can be solved quite easily.

1. Require all web sites to have a “robots.txt” file.
2. Each robots.txt file shall include standardized fields disclosing the primary, secondary and tertiary purpose of the web site. (legal, financial, retail sales, information, education, real estate, technical, accounting, entertainment, etc.)
3. Each robots.txt file shall disclose if they have any of the following:
a. nudity (porn)
b. nudity (art)
c. nudity (medical)
d. sexual content
e. etc.
4. Browsers could be developed to check for a robots.txt file first. If it ain’t there it ain’t getting loaded.
5. Browsers could be set to not go to any web page where nudity or sexual content exists.
6. Browsers could be set to grant engineers access to only those web sites that have content an engineer might need to do his job. The same goes for accountants, lawyers, etc. This could end surfing the web for entertainment on the job.
7. A fraud button could be added to the tool bar of web browsers. Is a web site is falsely advertising that their web site has not adult content, the authorities could be notified. The robots.txt file and the file loaded could be transmitted to the authorities. Violators would be prosecuted for false advertising and could be prohibited from owning a web domain in the future.

This is better than forcing porn sites to have a .xxx extension (as well as a host of other types of sites being forced to change their extensions as well) as that would break all the links on the www. This preserves the links and provides useful information to the user, and search engines.

Problem solved.

The Rock on September 29, 2009 at 3:08 PM

We now have the explanation for how all those studies got funding that asked probing research questions in the Dude articles, like how many drinks does it take to make a coed say yes.

pedestrian on September 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Well, thanks to people disparaging my work, now I won’t get my grant for this study. And to think, I was going to try to recruit research assistants from HotAir.

Hmmm… someone mentioned performance art earlier… maybe I could get an NEA grant?

malclave on September 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM

This is a pervasive problem that I suspect affects bureaucracies everywhere.

Several years ago (I left at the beginning of 2002) I was working at a major department of State government where the problem was so wide-spread that it frequently came up as a topic of conversation at senior staff meetings.

The Commissioner’s Office kept sending out general “last-chance” e-mail warnings to the state staff, but they simply could not bring themselves to really pull the trigger on any individual offenders, though they knew how really widespread it was, and who the numerous offenders were. Every indication I have gleaned from those still there, is that the problem has never been dealt with.

Here in New Jersey we had a long-time State Assemblyman who was even accessing child porn sites from his legislative office computer, one which was located in a “joint” legislative office that he shared with the other Assemblyman and the State Senator from that same district!

Though the public still does not know the details yet, it was apparently a staff person who saw the material (for a second time in several months) openly on the screen, and finally confronted one or both of the other legislators, who first went and reported it to the office administrative staff for the legislature before it was reported to law enforcement authorities. And, of course, everyone in that office expressed utter surprise, and their “shock and dismay” that he could have been doing any such thing.

Trochilus on September 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Problem solved.

The Rock on September 29, 2009 at 3:08 PM

Simpler…just pull the frickin’ cable. Or remove all internet browsers from government owned computers. All they need is email anyway.

I think I’m lucky I still have access to HA. Here at the salt mine, I can’t:

play videos, install any programs (Google toolbar, java, etc..), connect to sites on the “unapproved” list (HA is not on the list, so interpret that as needed), view those wonderful sidebar ads (gawd, I miss those camo Snorgtees..hubba hubba), use email not of the company kind, sit with my legs crossed (ok, just finding out who read this far), stream video/audio (no C-SPAN), etc….

It’s a wonder I get anything done at all….

BobMbx on September 29, 2009 at 3:20 PM

now i know why it took SOOOO long for the cash 4 clunkers to approve any rebates. the gov’t workers were busy adding to their splash guard collections under their desks.

just imagine…these same gov’t workers will be in charge of your health care. grandma won’t get her hip replacement authorized in time because the gov’t administrator in charge of approving hip replacements is too busy choking the chicken in his cubicle.

photoboy74 on September 29, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Of course, should be fired for being stupid…

right2bright on September 29, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Or at the least fired for not using funds wisely. How many pictures of an octopus molesting a female minotaur can one man look at that he needs to go to pay sites as well?!?

/partical sarc, still stunned by his stupidity

DrAllecon on September 29, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Decades of liberal indoctrination via schools and mass media has turned huge swathes of the population into decadent savages with no decency or self control. The obvious solution would be to fight liberalism and try and restore some kind of civility.

Sharke on September 29, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Wait till they have the chance to surf everyone’s medical records. Won’t be enough time in the work day.

chickasaw42 on September 29, 2009 at 4:09 PM

I believe Glenn/Instapundit posted a link regarding a German study that concluded that time spent ogling breasts was 3x more effective than cardio exercise.

That being the case, I believe we’ve found Obama’s government-run healthcare. An office full of bishops being flogged is likely to be healthier than an office full of marathoners.

Just have to make sure that you’ve got EEO-compliant porn.

JEM on September 29, 2009 at 4:14 PM

My office is right around the corner from NSF HQ. They have a daycare facility on site, with its playground located directly across from a bar’s patio where I spend many an happy hour. I don’t feel so bad anymore.

hicsuget on September 29, 2009 at 4:58 PM

There is worse than that going on in gov’t.

I hear from an insider.

father on September 29, 2009 at 5:50 PM

NSF… no surprise there…

Khun Joe on September 29, 2009 at 8:17 PM

What gets me is that they don’t have enough work to do?

Just kidding. These types work maybe half an hour a day between coffee breaks, BSing about the “big game”, playing grab-a$$ with the office wenches, and looking at their watches so they aren’t late going to lunch.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 29, 2009 at 9:22 PM

the government has been giving us all hand jobs for quite some time, but they leave you hanging.

workingforpigs on September 29, 2009 at 11:18 PM

After Clinton left office, all his computers had porn sites listed in the “favorite sites” for everyone to enjoy.

Cybergeezer on September 30, 2009 at 9:12 AM

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