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Porn Surfing Rampant At US Science Foundation

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the when-science-gets-dirty dept.

Government 504

schwit1 writes "The Washington Times reports, '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.' One senior executive at the National Science Foundation spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer, records show. The cost to taxpayers: up to $58,000. Why aren't they running a product like Websense?"

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bad idea... (5, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581879)

no, not using gov't computers for porn. that's fine by me...

that the guy almost used a "think of the children" defense for his actions. now THAT's fucked up.

these young women are from poor countries and need to make money to help their parents

Re:bad idea... (0, Redundant)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581951)

no, not using gov't computers for porn. that's fine by me...

that the guy almost used a "think of the children" defense for his actions. now THAT's fucked up.

these young women are from poor countries and need to make money to help their parents

It's because he needed something to tug on your heartstrings.

Re:bad idea... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582313)

Sounds to me like he was tugging on something else.

Re:bad idea... (-1, Redundant)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582361)

He needed something to tug, but it had nothing to do with your heartstrings.

Re:bad idea... (0, Redundant)

pregister (443318) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582541)

Pretty sure that is not what he's been tugging on.

Re:bad idea... (4, Insightful)

chrb (1083577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581995)

I have known people who look at porn at work, but I find it difficult to be outraged about it. Why? Those guys are paid to do a job, supposed to be 9-5 but the porn entertainment tended to be a way of relaxing when they were still in the office working at 10pm. Nobody actually cared, even the bosses, because the employees were being paid to do a job, which they did well. As long as watching porn doesn't impact your work or offend colleagues, then why should it be considered any worse than surfing YouTube, Facebook, or even Slashdot? It's just pictures of people having sex.

Re:bad idea... (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582127)

Whereas I am not for pornography in the workplace (Porn causes phych issues). I do agree with your underlying argument. In workplaces we need to get away from the idea that if I sit at my desk for 8 hours I am productive. Rather we need a concept of whether or not the employee is doing work. I know people who surf half the day and still do 3x the work as the 9-5ers. This is especially so in gov't institutions.

Re:bad idea... (5, Insightful)

jidar (83795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582269)

Porn causes psych issues? Perhaps it just exposes them, particularly in people who judge people for looking at porn.

Re:bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582355)

Wrong word, the one he referenced is pronounced more like fike.

See here for followers of the Phych filosophy [yahoo.com]

Re:bad idea... (0, Troll)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582383)

Nah, it is proven that Porn (excessive), causes issues in relationships and effectively causes issues in the male psyche. Given there are youtube videos that will cause scars they are not nearly as potent as porn is. I can't pull up the research as I am here at work :) But, males in particular have issues with just looking at porn, it usually causes a physiological response as well as a mental one. There are other studies showing long term effects on attitude, behavior, and sex life.

Re:bad idea... (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582311)

Porn causes psych issues?

If porn affects you negatively where it impacts your work then you were unstable to begin with. Aside from it affecting how turned on you get from real people (I would agree that it can desensitize you but that's about it) I don't believe it affects anyone in any other way. Even if it did, any way it could affect you shouldn't impact your work unless you're a porn star or work for one of those net nanny companies....

And regardless of all that, as long as someone isn't forcing you to watch with them, why would you care? Too much is considered legal because someone else doesn't want to participate. We already have laws to stop people for doing harm to others, why do we need laws that effectively do the same thing but for a specific reason? ie. drugs, racism, etc. If you don't like it, ignore it.

Re:bad idea... (5, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582315)

(Porn causes phych issues).

Citation & spellchecker needed.

Re:bad idea... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582537)

Citation & spellchecker needed.

Good. I was wondering if this was yet another asinine meme that had passed me by. Urban Dictionary defines phych (without providing any etymology) as "to beat someone shitless", which doesn't really parse in this context.

Re:bad idea... (5, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582437)

Psych issues cause problems with porn, not the other way around.

Re:bad idea... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582487)

"Whereas I am not for pornography in the workplace (Porn causes phych issues)."

Err....exactly what are these 'psych' issues porn causes??

Have you found some research that I've not heard of? Can you post links to it?

Re:bad idea... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582145)

I find it difficult to summon moral outrage, assuming it doesn't affect job performance; but from an IT perspective there is something of a difference.

With the proliferation of poorly vetted 3rd party ads and social network plugin "apps" and things, no class of websites is fully safe; but porn sites have a well deserved reputation for being particularly hostile and malware infested. Ideally, IT should be enough on the ball that that isn't an issue; but (especially given the number of hairy zero-day exploits and such floating around) it isn't a risk you really want to bring on yourself, if you don't have to.

Re:bad idea... (5, Funny)

etenil (1645213) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582485)

I agree with you. Each company should have its official pr0n sites list, all malware-proof and everything!

Spent or did during? (4, Insightful)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581887)

Did he spend 331 days, or did he check at some point every day he was at work?

Once we get past "surfed porn at work", the number of hours seems more relvent than the number of days.

Re:Spent or did during? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582201)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

It was "research" all in the name of Science!

Re:Spent or did during? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582207)

Did he spend 331 days, or did he check at some point every day he was at work?

Once we get past "surfed porn at work", the number of hours seems more relvent than the number of days.

ARE YOU THAT STUPID!!! WHY DON'T YOU JUST JUSTIFY IT WITH MINUTES OR SECONDS. OR WAS IT YOU IN THE ARTICLE?

To clarify... (1)

TheClockworkSoul (1635769) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581889)

The cost of the one senior executive's porn surfing was somewhere between $13,800 and $58,000.

Re:To clarify... (1)

courtjester801 (1415457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582179)

Did that include the reoccurring monthly fees?

Best Intentions (5, Funny)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581895)

It all started out as innocent research on "Black Holes" and "Uranus"...

Re:Best Intentions (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581967)

It all started out as innocent research on "Black Holes" and "Uranus"...

So, just what did they find out?
     

Re:Best Intentions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582285)

Black poles and anus.

Re:Best Intentions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582299)

It all started out as innocent research on "Black Holes" and "Uranus"...

Obligitory XKCD Comic [xkcd.com]

$58k? (3, Insightful)

ballyhoo (158910) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581901)

Sounds like they need a better quality cacheing system, or get some of the pr0n served on a locally hosted CDN. Or stick it on their LAN fileservers. Let's get practical here!

Re:$58k? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582439)

Sounds like they need a better quality cacheing system, or get some of the pr0n served on a locally hosted CDN. Or stick it on their LAN fileservers. Let's get practical here!

More likely that the $58k is based on his annual salary worked into an hourly figure then multiplied by the number of hours he spent downloading pr0n.

First NSF (0, Troll)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581907)

National Sex Foundation

FOSS (4, Insightful)

JSG (82708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581909)

Why aren't they running a product like Websense?"

... or Squid + Dans Guardian (for example)? It's somewhat cheaper ...

Re:FOSS (1)

dburkland (1526971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581969)

I was thinking the same thing when I read this article

Re:FOSS (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582077)

I'd take a guess saying that a "Senior executive" would have a bypass for this kind of protection anyway...

Re:FOSS (1)

NYMeatball (1635689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582227)

I'm not familiar with websense, or any other software based (presumably) web filtering, but ANY decent piece of hardware configured as your ultimate entry point for all traffic outside the network, can EASILY filter a majority of the porn sites out there (not to mention all the other illicit activities).And that's not something a senior executive can just bypass.

(Again, unfamiliar with websense, which is probably the much cheaper alternative to all of this. Both options are less than $58,000 most likely)

Re:FOSS (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582447)

Knowing a little bit about Websense, I know that you can give access to different types of content based on the user account. So this is what I meant, that a senior executive would ask for (and get) a complete, unrestricted access.

Re:FOSS (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582373)

Probably because many of those block legitimate medically relevant websites used by the national science foundation.

The trouble is, a scientist myself, is that so much time is wasted waiting for bureaucracies that meet once a month to approve work that could be done in one day that there's lots of down time. No, they shouldn't look at porn, but I spend a lot of my time reading news websites ... like slashdot.

Websense? Try Common Sense! (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581917)

> The cost to taxpayers: up to $58,000. Why aren't they running a product like Websense?

Why isn't someone in charge telling the guy he's fired?

Re:Websense? Try Common Sense! (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582343)

I thought the same thing. Why pay for software that will be more expensive and more trouble than its worth when you can just fire people who don't obey the rules?

Research...yea, that's the ticket! (1)

fmfnavydoc (795254) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581919)

They were doing"research" on human reproductive habits...how males are "visual" compared to females...yea, that's it....now to put in for the multi-million dollar grant on this...

Old News? (4, Informative)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581925)

First this is coming from the Washington Times. Its the newspaper equivalent of Fox News.

Second this was reported back in January 2009.

http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=NSF+porn+surfing&scoring=a&hl=en&ned=us&um=1&sa=N&sugg=d&as_ldate=2000&as_hdate=2009&lnav=hist9 [google.com]

Re:Old News? (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582551)

"First this is coming from the Washington Times. Its the newspaper equivalent of Fox News."

And this makes the report less reliable how....?

Certain Alibi (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581927)

"But officer, it's research!"

Re:Certain Alibi (1)

BeaverAndrew (1645577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581949)

"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." - Kinky...

Re:Certain Alibi (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582333)

Yeah right. And he bought cocaine for the same reason too ? Oh humanitarian of him.

Porn at work should be encouraged (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581933)

To begin with, this is a senior executive, not some lowly password changer in the basement. The policy against surfing porn at work may apply to all equally, but as we all know, some are more equal than others. So it's hard to expect that this person would somehow be subject to the rules considering his position.

Second, what's wrong with surfing porn at work? Work is a stressful environment, and finding ways to relieve this stress is actually a productive endeavor. Many companies have put in "game rooms" with pool tables and other recreational apparatus to help employees work off some stress and be more productive at their jobs. If porn helped this senior exec relieve stress and be more productive, then it's a good deal for the agency.

If someone is somehow offended by the viewing of porn, I suggest they give proof that they were forced to view it with the boss. Otherwise, even if they viewed it incidentally, their is no evidence that this exec was using the porn in a harassing way. If the porn itself wasn't illegal, then what's the big deal?

Re:Porn at work should be encouraged (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582125)

Work is a stressful environment, and finding ways to relieve this stress is actually a productive endeavor. Many companies have put in "game rooms" with pool tables and other recreational apparatus to help employees work off some stress and be more productive at their jobs.

So they already have blackjack, what about adding some hookers? Wait, that wouldn't make them more productive, rather more reproductive...

Websense (1)

Pretendstocare (816218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581935)

"Why aren't they running a product like Websense?"
"One senior executive at the National Science Foundation spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer"

Rearrange the summary for all the answers

NSFw (4, Funny)

drenehtsral (29789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581937)

I guess they'd better create an internal division called the National Science Foundation Watchdog, or NSFW for short...

Re:NSFw (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582147)

I though "NSFW" meant "National Science Foundation Websites"?

Re:NSFw (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582505)

I though "NSFW" meant "National Science Foundation Websites"?

"National Science Foundation Websurfers"

This article is misleading at best (5, Insightful)

jamie (78724) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581941)

Well, this is reported by the Washington Times, so you know it's not biased in the least. OK, let's take a look.

The only substantive abuse claim here is a quote from the NSF's inspector general making a budget request to Congress. The Times article implies that "this dramatic increase," forcing fraud detection efforts to be reduced, refers to employees browsing porn.

But that's not the case, is it. If we read the Times article very carefully, we see that the very first graf references:

Employee misconduct investigations, often involving workers accessing pornography

Subsequent references to "the problems," "this dramatic increase," and "the misconduct cases" are all really talking about employee misconduct as a whole, not porn surfing specifically.

Maybe that's why this article is big on rhetoric and small on actual cases. One lengthy case is detailed on the article's first page. How much did that case cost taxpayers? "Between $13,800 and $58,000." Out of the NSF's $6.49 billion budget [nsf.gov] . That's 0.0006%.

How often is "often"? Six times as often as before. Misconduct cases -- not porn specifically -- went from 3 in 2006, to 7 in 2007, to 10 in 2008. The Times hints repeatedly that this is a huge problem, but despite its lavish use of adjectives -- "pervasive," "swamped," "well-publicized" -- it has to report that the actual number of porn-related misconduct cases in 2008 was seven.

Slashdot's headline "Porn Surfing Rampant" is exactly the kind of exaggeration that the Washington Times was hoping secondary media would slap on this story. "Rampant" is just not true, there's no possible way seven cases in a year can be described that way.

If each case was as bad as the one "between $13,800 and $58,000" case that was identified, those seven cases probably cost 0.004% of the NSF's budget.

But the Times article gets worse, moving from exaggeration to outright lies. Later, its author Jim McElhatton writes:

The foundation's inspector general ... told Congress it was diverted from that mission by the porn cases.

That's a flat-out lie. The OIG told Congress it was diverted by "employee misconduct," not porn. Here, read the actual budget request [docstoc.com] . (Full quote below.)

There is one paragraph in a 7-page report that references employee misconduct, and nowhere are "porn cases" referenced. Surely some of the cost to the agency was specifically from porn-surfing misconduct. And some was not. How much? We still don't know.

Look, any major institution, private or public, that employs a large number of people and gives them access to the internet, is going to have a few employees who abuse that access. It's ridiculous to think otherwise. Employees are capable of wasting time in a wide variety of creative ways. I daresay some employees in the private sector are wasting time reading Slashdot right at this very moment when they are nominally getting paid to do other things.

Republicans aren't fans of science; we know that. Smearing the NSF in the media by associating their name with porn for a news cycle is a fun yuk I suppose, but for conservatives it's another shot fired in the culture war. I find it depressing. There's actual news out there; this is at best People magazine type crap.

And it's ironic that this gets spread over the internet that the NSF helped create, and the story is brought to you thanks to the Freedom of Information Act that was passed by Democrats [wikipedia.org] over the objections of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Scalia.

Finally, as someone who 10 years ago was writing stories for Slashdot exposing the flaws of censorware [google.com] , I have to say it's really embarrassing that the site is now being used to hawk the stuff. Websense is going to save us from porn? And it's not going to tie the hands of investigators who need to look into research misconduct? It's a good thing to treat NSF researchers like children and criminals? Really?

---

Full quote from the NSF budget request:

With increasing frequency, OIG has been called upon to investigate instances of employee misconduct within the agency. The urgency of these investigations has required the reassignment of staff focused on the core areas of our investigative program: research misconduct and fraud. In 2008, we experienced a 6-fold increase in employee misconduct cases and associated proactive and management implication report activities. To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significant reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud. We anticipate a significant decline in investigative recoveries and prosecution in the coming years as a direct result. An increase in staff will help minimize this decline while allowing us to handle the continued flow of employee cases. More importantly, it will provide the additional resources needed to balance the proportionate need to investigate employee misconduct, grant fraud and research misconduct.

Re:This article is misleading at best (5, Insightful)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582007)

Agreed, Jaime, and just to be clear, the people reportedly looking at porn were NSF staffers, not scientists. The NSF administers funding for basic research, but doesn't conduct it directly. The work is usually done at universities.

The staffers under scrutiny were certainly acting unprofessionally and should be reprimanded or fired. But the NSF is a gem among federal programs: it funds high risk long-term research that no private company would be capable of supporting. Historically basic research pays off enormously, but the return time is very long.

The occasional news reports on ridiculous research topics usually fail to give context for the work. Even when news reports are accurate, high-risk research has to involve occasional missteps.

In my opinion, the long-term return on NSF spending is orders of magnitude greater than what we'll get back on military, entitlement, or even NIH spending.

Re:This article is misleading at best (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582017)

Your analysis is well thought out, informative, and factually accurate.

Are you sure you meant to post it here on slashdot?

Re:This article is misleading at best (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582185)

It's a scam perpetrated by the Republican created NSFW tag.

It makes them think the link is for National Science Foundation Work.

Honestly, "The Washington Times reports..." enough (3, Insightful)

joggle (594025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582197)

I read the first three words and that was enough for me. I'm glad you took the time to specifically point out the flaws in this particular story for those who aren't familiar with the complete lack of journalistic integrity at that paper and may have otherwise taken the article seriously.

From my point of view, it may as well be "The Onion reports..." with the only difference that it isn't intended to be haha funny but actually trying to fool you instead.

Culture War (Re:This article is misleading at best (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582233)

Republicans aren't fans of science; we know that. Smearing the NSF in the media by associating their name with porn for a news cycle is a fun yuk I suppose, but for conservatives it's another shot fired in the culture war.

There's been a rash of reporter-based "auditing" of left-leaning organizations of late. Perhaps the left-leaning news and blogging organizations should "audit" Halliburton, Blackwater, etc. Fight fire with fire. Some will argue, however, that this would "drag the left down to the same low level".

Re:This article is misleading at best (5, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582309)

Slashdot's headline "Porn Surfing Rampant" is exactly the kind of exaggeration that the Washington Times was hoping secondary media would slap on this story.

Aren't you an editor?

Re:This article is misleading at best (5, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582379)

Wow, you should be an editor here or something!

Re:This article is misleading at best (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582503)

Slashdot's headline "Porn Surfing Rampant" is exactly the kind of exaggeration that the Washington Times was hoping secondary media would slap on this story. "Rampant" is just not true, there's no possible way seven cases in a year can be described that way.

Jamie, you have "@slashdot.org" after your name. You have a staff icon on your message header. Why can't you correct this?

I can't believe that slashdot is about spreading misinformation over honoring an editor's decision to greenlight a headline.

Good old double standards (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581965)

Preach something, do something different. This is just one area out of hundreds where the government do that, I don't see anything new here.

Some Context Please? (1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581971)

Can we have some context please? What was the Senior Exec Job? I mean, this is the NSF, so theoretically, it could have been research.

331 days? But how many minutes? (4, Informative)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581973)

We all know if you count your 'visits' by the day it seems to have big implications. But lets be realistic here. We all know you only visit for between 2-5 minutes.

Erring on the high side... 5 x 331 = 1655 minutes = 27.6 hours. And if we consider it work days, (about 8 hours), then that's actually hardly over 3 days.

Exaggerate much? Oh, but we wanted the headlines so so bad; we had to make it look big! (sarcasm)
----------

And right now, somewhere, people are reading this and frowining-- all the while having recently masturbated at work. Yes, everyone's shit still stinks. Yes, we all tug it. I wonder how much human time has been wasted worrying about this petty garble; consider the average time it takes to read and the average number of slashdot headline readers and I bet we're well over 27.6 hours!

I wouldn't recommend Websense (5, Informative)

TSHTF (953742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581975)

I wouldn't recommend Websense to anyone. They have a long history of stealth [blogspot.com] web [webmasterworld.com] robots [codingforums.com] which intentionally disobey the robots.txt standard.

People are people (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581979)

A) this is no different then what people do in some private companies

B) That had to dig to find one extreme example

C) They didn't define porn in this context. Is it just a random hit? I ahve hit porn site accidently while looking up job related sites. Hopefull if the record is reviewed that also not when I left the site. Which would be immediatly.

D) Yes, this is not good, but there is no real indication of how bad it is. They make it SOUND bad, but there aren't based on any baseline.

Of course then give an example of a guy and how much he did and then said he wasn't detected. If he wasn't detected then how would they know how much online activity they had?

Re:People are people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582539)

I bet if this was a corporation, or a different government agency, slashdotters would take a much different stance. But no, since this is government, and an agency of government that many slashdotters think benefits them ("science"), we'll let it slide.

Let me reiterate the absurdity of the situation: these scumbags are wasting your tax dollars, on your watch, instead of doing the job they are paid to do, and yet you're willing to let it slide because it's one of the "good" government agencies.

Not too surprised (3, Interesting)

jonpublic (676412) | more than 4 years ago | (#29581981)

I know one of my friends told her supervisor of porn she found on her "hand me down computer" that came from the new director of a major metropolitan museum. There was no investigation, no action taken, no nothing.

Re:Not too surprised (5, Funny)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582083)

Your friend has a "supervisor of porn"? I'm envious

Re:Not too surprised (1)

jonpublic (676412) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582159)

You don't have one???

Re:Not too surprised (1)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582353)

nope, sadly no-one manages to keep me on the correct servings of the food^h^h^h^h porn pyramid.

Science of the female body (1)

TechnologyResource (1638031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582009)

Did he think researching the science of the female body was part of his job? I wonder how much hands-on lab research he did.

What's a day? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582011)

Did he spend 331 days at the NSF, and looked at porn for a few minutes a day? Or did he spend 331 * 8 hours looking at porn. The former, I can understand. Looking at porn isn't really that different from checking facebook or reading slashdot. You can't do intelligent work 8 hours straight, you need some breaks to let your subconscious mind sort things out.

If he spent 331*8 hours, then it's absolutely inexcusable. Don't these people have supervisors who check to see how much work they're getting done? The real sad bit is that the right wing is going to use this to cut funding to work that's really needs to be done.

Not mentioned in the headlines (1)

defireman (1365467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582023)

The topic of the year-long research project conducted by the workers is "The effect of sustained Internet pornography on the libido of the typical office worker".

All will be clarified by a press release later in the week.

Should have hired a prostitute instead (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582031)

For fiftyeight grand the taxpayers could bought him services of an enjoyable prostitute for that same year. Or he could have bought his wife something really nice.

Pardon the slight scent of male chauvinism. Ordinarily, I would refrain from such comments, but the fact is it is true!

Re:Should have hired a prostitute instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582349)

Still no guarantee that he would have had sex even after buying something nice for his wife... :D

(Married, always trying to the best I can, but occasionally cynical :D )

HOJIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582073)

Sounds like a good use of my money. Can we get the NEA a grant to produce porn? no really.

True story (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582131)

Once at work I typed one letter wrong in the URL, and suddenly dozens of pop-up windows with raging porn spewed all over the screen. After about 3 seconds of panicky futile keyboard work, I hit the monitor off-switch and pressed the reboot button. This was just after the dot-com meltdown, so the risk of losing a job scared the Bujezis outta me. It's the same feeling one gets when one just barely avoids a car accident.

Re:True story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582351)

suddenly dozens of pop-up windows with raging porn spewed all over the screen. After about 3 seconds of panicky futile keyboard work, I hit the monitor off-switch and pressed the reboot button

So how are Internet Explorer and Windoze working for you?

Just further proof. (0, Troll)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582135)

Government does everything better then the private sector.

What is it about "porn"? (3, Interesting)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582141)

What is it about porn that provokes such an outrage?

If I was a manager in that organisation, I'd be putting the porn-surfing under the larger categories of "non-work activity" and "non-work-related use of NSF resources" and disciplinging employees on that basis.

If employees did ridiculous amounts of porn-surfing, I'd be addressing matters of how they feel about their job, and whether they had a psychological issue that drove their porn addiction; at their next review I'd prescribe a course of counselling as an assessable item of job performance.

If someone is so heavily pulled to porn, something is badly off-track in his/her life. S/he might otherwise be an excellent worker, but needing to be brought into line and pushed in a direction of emotional/psychological healing.

What I'd like to ask is - why is it a scandal if employees wasted company resources accessing porn, but not if they waste similar resources accessing (say) medieval re-enactment sites and forums?

Re:What is it about "porn"? (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582411)

Agreed. Where I work, we can take personal time during the day for whatever we want. There's no rule against personal internet usage, even porn or gaming. We can even bring in alcohol if we want. And we're not "losing productivity" anymore than we are by taking a lunch break. If there was no internet many would read a newspaper or take an extra smoke break

I'm as upset by government waste as anyone, but employees being human and not robots is not the same as waste. They need breaks too.

Re:What is it about "porn"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582431)

To pick apart your statement just a tiny bit.... if a person is an excellent worker, then let them do their job. It's not your responsibility to "heal" their emo level unless it impacts the job you're paying them to do.

senior executive says I want full web or I can fin (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582163)

senior executive says I want full web or I can find a new IT GUY

"all-pervasive"??? (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582165)

"The Washington Times reports, '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 on page 2 it says "foundation's inspector general closed 10 employee misconduct investigations last year, up from just three in 2006. "

Ten staff were caught, out of a total of 1200. That's "all pervasive"? It's less than 1%. That "swamped" the investigators?

Investigate how productive these investigators are, that sounds more like the story.

And what the hell does that phrase "senior executive who spent at least 331 days looking at pornography" mean? He spent 8 hours a day for a almost a year looking at porn? Or does it actually mean he looked at porn at least once on 331 days? Some people take a smoke break, others take a coffee break, maybe he took porn breaks. How much time did he actually waste, and is that the issue or is it "PORN"? He's an adult, everyone in the office is an adult, and if anyone had been disturbed by his habit, I'm sure we would have heard all about it.

And on page three: The report caught the attention of Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee... Right, this story was sourced from the "ranking Republican" on the committee. So we can be sure he has no agenda to embarrass the government by turning this trivial misconduct of a dozen staff into a "scandal".

Re:"all-pervasive"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582283)

This is called "managing to the exception" and also "covering your ass". People who don't do real work lose time investigating what other people do. I'm sure because 1% of the people surfed porn now they will institute some very tough rules that will make the work of the rest of the 99% of the people harder... but that's life... because of an idiot we now have to take our shoes off before we board a airplane...

He wanted to write some python code... (1)

AmericanGladiator (848223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582195)

and went to python dot com instead of python dot org. We had an engineer make that mistake once. He could not hit the 'back' button fast enough.

I'm baffled (4, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582229)

It's completely beyond my comprehension why anyone would think it's ok to surf for porn at work. Clearly common sense is no longer a factor in hiring.

Billions and Billions... (4, Funny)

No-Cool-Nickname (1287972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582251)

of boobs.

Why isolate porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582301)

Why should they count cost to taxpayer for porn surfing only. Why non slashdotting, googling, binging etc? From the cost perspective, these are more expensive than porn.

Alibi #27 (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582321)

"But that's just a pink slime-worm entering a small cave. I filmed it at...the Argentinian mountains."

folks, welcome to politics (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582401)

you all lose

as in, all the comments below not so much defending the porn surfer, but providing him with a surfeit of excuses as to why its not so bad, understandable, blown out of proportion, etc

which, of course, only further serves anyone who would wish to use this event against the NSF. there are genuine forces of ignorance in american politcs, anti-science forces. and you do not want this event to be used against the NSF. the NSF has a valuable mission, you don't want to discredit it. your overriding concern here should be protecting the NSF

that a lot of you should instead conclude the issue here is the explanation of the man's behavior only means you don't understand how this appears to those who don't know anything about the NSF, aren't invested in anything, and are simply offended at what they guy did. that this disgust and anger should be channeled by some into say, defunding the MSF sounds alright with them: "sounds like the MSF is full of a bunch of porn surfing lay-abouts"

the overriding concern for you here should be the protection of the NSF. for that reason, you should support the quick and quiet dismissal of the porn surfing doogus, and move on

explaining, excusing, mitigating his behavior in any way... that only misses the real game going on here

how does this relate to productivity? (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582403)

Maybe his daily 10 minutes masturbation session made him more productive?
Or maybe he didn't feel the urge to harrass his secretary afterwards?

All jokes aside, the calculation on how much tax-payers money was "lost" on this is dodgy at best.
Whole businesses and university spin-offs make a living on applying for those grants, I'm guessing that's not all money well spend either.

everyday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582421)

Well seeing as it was 331 days. and there's 365 days in a year that means he searched porn everyday at work minus vacation and sick days. Quality....

A better question... (1)

wertigon (1204486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582433)

Why aren't they running a product like Websense?

A much better question is, why aren't they firing this obviously incompetent person from his job?

If you do not perform your job duties and surf porn instead of working, you deserve to get fired. And don't get me that "addiction is a disease" crap - if it is an addiction problem, put him in a twelve-step program, write him off as sick for 2 years, and put someone else in charge. Small lapses are tolerable, but in this case it's simply doing something he *really* shouldn't, by society's and the organizations standards, be doing. And that means it'll backfire.

Astronomer porn (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582449)

Astronomer Porn [slashdot.org] .

Re:Astronomer porn (1)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582491)

They don't just use those telescopes to look into the Heavens you know.

Maybe.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582451)

.. maybe he spends the last 5 minutes of his day (off work perhaps) wanking off because his woman back home doesn't let him have porn movies in the house. poor guy, really feel for him.

posting anonymous because of american view on sex is pretty much deny everything :D

Where did the money go? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582455)

Investigators put the cost to taxpayers of the senior official's porn surfing at between $13,800 and about $58,000.

Naturally, the bulk of that cost was eaten by the cost of the investigation. If one employee, with salaries and benefits and admin overhead, totaling 100K estimated that he spent between 13.8% and 58% of his time monitoring this guy's internet connection, then this one guys appetite for porn cost the NSF 13800--58000.

I think the NSF needs honest accountants, but employing one would probably add the porn bill.

Re:Where did the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582531)

"would probably add to the porn bill..."

Who else is going to look at porn? (1)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582471)

A bunch of secret agents that are getting laid or a bunch of science geeks with lab coats and pocket protectors? I mean come on!
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