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September 29, 2009

Time Flies When You're.... Ummm.... Nevermind

"Our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk," the letter states. "We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve out economy."

- Letter to Barack Obama from 61 Nobel Laureates

What would we do without scientists?

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."

I swear to God I am not making this up:

...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.

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.

And some folks think scientists are cold hearted.

Posted by Cassandra at September 29, 2009 08:10 AM

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No-no-no. Time IS fun, when you're having flies.

Posted by: Boquisucio at September 29, 2009 10:41 AM

EWWWWWW!!!! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 29, 2009 10:44 AM

I suppose this means my request for a $75,000 grant to study the differences between the bubble patterns of bacon on a hot griddle vs. that of those on a cold one won't be considered by the NSF this year...

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2009 11:04 AM

*swatting another fly onto the grill*

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2009 11:05 AM

Oh the bad puns...global warming indeed.

Posted by: Cricket at September 29, 2009 01:37 PM

This is actually a crime in the military... I suppose jail time is out of the question here.

On the other hand, if we could convince Congress to surf porn instead of doing their jobs, the effect on the country would doubtless be tremendously beneficial.

Posted by: Grim at September 29, 2009 01:53 PM

On the other hand, if we could convince Congress to surf porn instead of doing their jobs, the effect on the country would doubtless be tremendously beneficial.

Looking at what they've been up to lately, are you *sure* they're not already doing that? :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 29, 2009 02:09 PM

It would explain why 'they haven't had time to read the bills' before voting on them, I suppose.

Posted by: Grim at September 29, 2009 02:41 PM

And it would certainly explain Harry Reid's perpetual squint...

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2009 03:39 PM

"To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significantly reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud,"
Huh!? Absolute, bovine excrement from a gub'ment that does seem too terribly concerned with wasting taxpayer dollars at every opportunity. Same ole, same ole.

Most of the investigation could be automated to search for porn key words. Ya know, for a nation that put folks on the moon, or a backlot stage if you're a twoofer, I don't think it would take that much imagination to come up with a list of keywords...

Anyway, the hardware and software filters, the firewalls, etc. El Benevolent Voyeur had to pass through at work in order to help those poor chilluns all have a logging capability.

The log file could be closed daily at oh-midwatch. A new new log file could be opened with the cron/batch job searching the one just closed for naughty bits. Hits on naughty keywords and/or known ip addresses, could then be redirected to a log file which is emailed to the IG. Enough of that info ought to be sufficient to drop-kick said bozoid out into the street.

*heavy sigh* NSF and technology do not seem to be as tight as they were back in the day.

And for $58k that turkey should either be required to pay back the taxpayers, plus fines, plus interest, or he should be dressed in a tight jumpsuit, preferably in a daring shade of fuchsia, and then sent on an five year excursion into a federal penitentiary.

On second thought, there may be a place for the Guillotine in this...

Posted by: bthun at September 29, 2009 04:10 PM

I am arguably the most naive person (or at least I was before I became a blogger) about porn, and even I noticed something was amiss about 10 years ago with a laptop we had at work.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon - or apparently, even someone who is suspicious or looking to catch their fellow workers - to notice if someone has been surfing porn at work. When dumb old me stumbles onto something she wasn't even aware of at the time, you know it's both obvious and easy to detect :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 29, 2009 06:05 PM

I think they should have done that it was a great thing...

Posted by: Chris Brown at September 29, 2009 06:13 PM

This story makes me feel uncomfortable.

Posted by: Chrystal K. at September 29, 2009 06:54 PM

The only thing that surprises me is that this has just become a story. If a manager audits what his/her people actually do, there will be a ton of complaints to the union, and the manager doesn't know how to manage. Ignore the fact that your people are doing absolutely nothing, and you end up with happy people and are deemed to be a good manager.

Rather than enlarging the Civil Service, a good audit should be done, and people should be moved to where they are thought to be needed. As things now stand, the Federal Civil Service is one of the great con jobs of all time.

All in all, as things now stand, somebody who couldn't hold down a job at McDonald's can count on a nifty retirement package from you and me.

Posted by: RIslander at September 29, 2009 07:46 PM

Now we know why the NSF is pushing Global Warming -- it's *hot*...

Posted by: BillT at September 30, 2009 06:42 AM

Bill scoops me again!

It begs the question of trust. The Young Man and the CLUs are more afraid of me simply because of the trust issue. They work very hard not to violate that trust; which means in return, they get limited time surfing privileges without supervision.

Posted by: Cricket at September 30, 2009 07:37 AM

But Miss Cricket, as RIslander pointed out, Civil Servant supervisors are unwilling to be adults and face down the bad actors, the unions, or whatever bogeymen might take their job as a result. And we all know how far the Courts and the Congress would back righteous, ethical, and lawful discipline by said supervisors.

Nah, Congress, as currently constituted, would be more likely to rewrite the law to support the Porn Addicted Workers, or PAW for short, adding another page to the ADA. Unless they could sluff the decision off on the courts to gain a favorable interpretation of existing law such that a 40 hour porn indulgence becomes a federal work week.

You, on the other hand, are an adult and conduct your actions accordingly. A foreign concept to those who become gub'ment.


Posted by: bt_hang-em-high_hun at September 30, 2009 09:35 AM

Ooh...I like that. PAWs. Soooo apropo.

The trust issue has worked so well that we don't have NetNanny or other cyber babysitters. I have firmly held to the line that nothing is a better deterrent than one's own choices in right and wrong. Not to mention the fact that I am not always going to be there, looking over their shoulders...and they should be adult enough not to NEED or USE a cyber sitter.

While I personally don't care what a bug'ment worker does on his/her time, what s/he does on MY dime is my business.

Posted by: Cricket at September 30, 2009 10:51 AM

I think this is the key:

[my emphasis]

"... inside the taxpayer-funded foundation that doles out billions of dollars of scientific research grants


... the government-backed foundation."

I wept then I read of the poor guy's explanation. Here we thought scientists were cold blankets.

Then I realized that he's not [necessarily] a scientist - he's just the guy who "doles out billions of dollars".

"... rampant ..."

Clearly they have way too many people - but is that really surprising considering that it's a gummint organization?

Simple solution: disband the NSF.

Posted by: ZZMike at September 30, 2009 10:54 PM

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