Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

U.S. Government Crippled by Sex, Gaming Sites 283

BobB writes "The U.S. Department of the Interior's inspector general has released a report that says department employees are wasting their taxpayer-funded work time going to prohibited web sites. Some of these sites relate to sex, computer games, gambling and auctions. The study found that almost $2 billion a year in productivity was being lost to these 'excessive indulgences.'" From the article: "Computer-use logs revealed more than 4,732 entries relating to sexually explicit Web sites and gambling sites. Some computers accessed sex sites for 30 to 60 minutes during the test period. More than 1 million log entries were discovered indicating 7,763 Department computer users spent 2,004-plus hours accessing game and auction sites. Extrapolated over the year, that could account for 100,000 lost work hours. Put another way, this would equal 50 full-time employees doing nothing but surfing online game and auction sites."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Government Crippled by Sex, Gaming Sites

Comments Filter:
  • Who's doing it, tho? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:49PM (#16327555) Homepage Journal

    In a couple of prior jobs executives and managers were the ones caught with gobs of pr0n on their computers. On was actually walked out the door while we all watched, his computer had been examined by the techs and was crammed with child pr0n. Dunno if he was prosecuted, I certainly hope so.

    We have logs of our sites activities, too, which can be linked directly to users. I haven't heard of anyone getting the dusting for it, possibly because half the staff in Personnel are surfing while their boss tells me how busy they are and can't do some work which truly belongs to their department.

    Even I do a little surfing, but usually during breaks or while waiting for some task to run.

    • by Bravoc ( 771258 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:52PM (#16327611) Journal

      Not Me!

      I waste my time at work reading Slashdot

      er... wait a minute....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 )
        Seriously, that kind of reminds me of an Archie Bunker routine. Someone told him about how many homicides involve guns*, and he replied with "Would it make ya feel any better, if they was pushed outta windows?"

        So to this story, you could almost reply, "Would it make ya feel any betta, if they was just surfin Slashdot?"

        *Please, please, don't make a pro/anti-gun flamewar branch off of this, I beg you.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by MS-06FZ ( 832329 )
          Please, please ... make a pro/anti-gun flamewar branch off of this, I beg you.


          "I think guns are the best thing in the whole world, 'cause I hate them and they're awful. Because of that, you suck."

          Rebuttals welcome.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        I waste my time at work reading Slashdot

        Some weeks it must be close to 40 hours for me - pity I'm here for more than 80. Waiting for people to go home before I can work on the systems they use is annoying.

    • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:55PM (#16327663) Journal
      I've never understood that. Even accepting that he's going to goof off on his computer, and that he wants to goof off that way, what would compel him to do it there? Can he really not wait till he gets home for that kind of thing? And to answer the obvious objection -- yes, employees typically goof off, but not at sites that could get them prosecuted. Can't he distract himself at /. or something until quittin' time?
      • I wouldn't be surprised if there was an exhibitionist/thrill-seeking side to it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Are you kidding? Use his home computer for that sort of activity? That would just be stupid!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Can he really not wait till he gets home for that kind of thing?

        If it's illegal then he's hardly any safer at home than at work (either way, he risks going to jail).

        If it's not illegal then it depends on his boss and his wife. If both of them object to what he's doing then he'd probably rather risk his job than his marriage (particularly if there are kids involved in the marriage).

        Whether his boss or his wife should object in the first place is another question entirely.

    • We're allowed to surf the net whenever we want. They don't ca [DTR NO CARRIER]

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:50PM (#16327569) Homepage Journal
    Put another way, this would equal 50 full-time employees doing nothing but surfing online game and auction sites."
    I just have one question: are they taking applications?
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:56PM (#16327685)
      2000 hours /week spread over 7800 employees.
      so 30 minutes a week???? sounds like someone is wasting time, the ones who composed this report.
      • Hey, extrapolated over a year, that's like 12 hours! Really, where can I find employees who spend so little time on the web? (like I'm setting a good example right now...)
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:15PM (#16328005)
        Actually, it's even less time than that (unless an hour suddenly became 100 minutes). 2000 hours divided among 7800 employees yields ~.25 hours per employee per week. So, each employee averages about 15 minutes slacking per week, or 3 minutes per day. They must slack in other ways because that's incredibly low.
        • Right. That is unbelievably low.

          Sorry for the post that adds absolutely nothing to the discussion. Please mod me to hell for it, I can afford the karma anyway - but it is a good lesson in doing statistics properly. I mean, the number of people surfing the web at this moment, across the whole planet, I mean, the global economy must be losing BILLIONS, right?!?!?!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by senatorpjt ( 709879 )
          Sounds more like they should take out the bathrooms. They're basically paying 50 full time employees to do nothing but sit on a toilet and squeeze out turds all day.

      • Just you wait until RIAA beancounters notice a report on how much time their techs spend trolling for unauthorized mp3 songs.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sYn pHrEAk ( 526867 )
        Not to mention that if the equivalent of 50 employees doing nothing for a year is worth $2 billion, those 50 employees are worth an average $40 million a year.
      • Even 30 minutes / day wouldn't be a big deal to me. Well, perhaps porn sites isn't the most suitable for corporate browsing, but non-work related stuff anyway. You easily get to these durations if you have a quick lunch break and when you get back check on some unrelated web sites. It would still be during lunch hours. (well, at least in my country, 1 hour lunch breaks are the standard)
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by tobiasly ( 524456 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:10PM (#16327943) Homepage
      Put another way, this would equal 50 full-time employees doing nothing but surfing online game and auction sites."
      I just have one question: are they taking applications?

      I dunno, but if there are that many government employees going to auction sites, I'm gonna go try to sell my hammer on eBay for $600...

  • I'm one of those 50.
    • I'm certain that if /. did a poll, we would see a very high number of the 9-5 poster work for the govt.

  • It's great and all that we hear there are 50 full-time employees worth of waste, but out of how many employees total? I'll bet you can find as much waste in even some large, successful companies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ZippyKitty ( 902321 )
      Also, say for example I load /. while I'm waiting for a task to complete, read a bit during the next task, etc... through out the day - would that be 8+ hours of wasted time, since my computer shows me displaying /. during that time?

      Just wondering

    • Mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:02PM (#16327817)
      Total all the "hours" spent surfing junk sites ... for 100,000 employees ... and even at 6 minutes a day you'd have 600,000 minutes = 10,000 hours = 416 hours = 52 employees working 8 hour shifts.

      Now, for 50,000 employees, they'd have to spend 12 minutes out of an 8 hour day to get those numbers.

      25,000 employees would require 24 minutes out of an 8 hour day.

      And so forth. These "statistics" are meaningless without knowing how many TOTAL employees there are and what the mean and median are. Are there 10,000 employees and 5 of them spend 10 hours a day surfing junk while everyone thinks they're working? And the rest of the "hours" are people surfing junk sites during lunch?
    • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:12PM (#16327961) Homepage Journal
      You have to wonder if some are park rangers, kind of lonely (sex sites), who like to play poker over the net since the next human is 500 miles away.

      Ah, bet you forgot that they're part of the Department of the Interior, didn't you?
    • We've got about 0.6% 'nasty' usage.. It only sounds nasty if you don't average it out per employee. From TFA:
      A one-week study by the department's Inspector General found, however, that a lot of abuse is going on. Among the study's findings:
      • This activity accounted for more than 24 hours of Internet use during the sample period, which did not include a review of e-mail or other means of transferring prohibited material.
      • More than 1 million log entries were discovered indicating 7,763 Department computer users spent 2,004-plus hours accessing game and auction sites. Extrapolated over the year, that could account for 100,000 lost work hours. Put another way, this would equal 50 full-time employees doing nothing but surfing online game and auction sites.
      "7,763 Department computer users spent 2,004 plus hours accessing game and auction sites." That's 15.5 minutes per average user over the one week study. This probably includes coffee breaks and lunchtimes. -- but when you multiply that by thousands of users, you can get scarey numbers....
      E.G. The United states spends 1million hours per year blinking -- Just think how much time we could save if we could outlaw blinking .... (this stat is made up, but it gives you the idea of what you can get if you multiply by 300million citizens).
  • by hurfy ( 735314 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:51PM (#16327601)
    Too much time on sex and gambling instead of reading slashdot

    err...wait a sec
  • Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:52PM (#16327603) Homepage
    "The study found that almost $2 Billion a year in productivity was being lost to these 'excessive indulgences'"

    How fast does $2 Billion get used in Iraq? I'm all for efficiency, but lets have it across the board.

    • Productivity? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:00PM (#16327775)
      > "The study found that almost $2 Billion a year in productivity was being lost to these 'excessive indulgences'"
      > How fast does $2 Billion get used in Iraq? I'm all for efficiency, but lets have it across the board.

      A better question: What economic output are these DOI employees (and for that matter, our mercenaries working for private contractors at 5-10 times the expense of an enlisted serviceman/woman) supposed to be creating that's worth $2B per year? In order to speak meaningfully of productivity, one first must be in the business of producing stuff.

      This is government work. Nothing's being produced, only consumed.

      • Probably a fair bit, as far as Iraq is concerned. Plenty of US Corporations scored very lucrative rebuilding contracts thanks to the invasion. Not to mention the knock-on effect for the US public and industry of forcibly minimising oil price rises.

        As for the DOI, a very brief search of their website shows the following statistics:

        DOI raises more than $6.3 billion in revenues collected from energy, mineral, grazing, timber, recreation, land sales, etc.

        Energy projects on federally managed lands and offshore a

      • Re:Productivity? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DM9290 ( 797337 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:36PM (#16329109) Journal
        "In order to speak meaningfully of productivity, one first must be in the business of producing stuff.
        This is government work. Nothing's being produced, only consumed."

        this statement shows a lack of understanding of economics. A person may have no other job than to facilitate the division of labour. Someone who answers phones produces nothing, but may in fact be far more valuable to productivity than any other single laberour in the production line.

        If no person was specifically assigned to answer the phone, then a production line of 100 workers would need to shut down completely each time the phone rings.

        So if the production line (employing 100 labourers) needed to stop for 3 hours each day due to the necessity of answering phone calls then hiring a single person to answer the phone in effect gains you an entire 300 hours of productivity. and a single secretary to answer phones may in fact this way create 300 hours of PRODUCTION. Not only this but s/he would answer the phone more efficiently and probably be more skilled at communicating on it since this is all s/he does. And yet.. at the end of the day... the secretary did not personally directly "produce" anything at all (by your mode of calculation).

        The government is in the business of making sure that you can trust other people to honour their contracts with you and not stab you in the back on your way out the door; in protecting your property when you aren't looking, and in making sure the products you buy are relatively safe for you to use, and actually do what you were promised they would do. And to provide certain other services to make the cost of you raising a productive family cheaper than it otherwise would be.

        The effort of you trying to defend yourself, provide your own security and enforce your own contracts would far exceed what you pay the government to provide this service. So the government is to that extent : MAKING YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE.

        A bank would not loan you money at some fairly low interest rate except that the government is going to step in and FORCE you to pay back your loan. Thus the government makes the cost of you borrowing money cheaper. I could go on with dozens of additional examples. A good government SAVES YOU MONEY.

        This is exactly the same as if it was the government which was being productive in the first place, since the end result is the same :greater productivity.

      • by Stalyn ( 662 )
        Nothing's being produced, only consumed.

        Except of course stable social institutions that allow business to flourish. I'd like to see the private sector maintain itself without the rule of law and a police force to enforce the law. Not only that but a monetary institution that allows fair commerce. If anything it is private industry that benefits the most from government.
    • by Stalyn ( 662 )
      How fast does $2 Billion get used in Iraq? I'm all for efficiency, but lets have it across the board

      1 week []
    • The U.S. Military is extraordinarily good at what militaries are designed to do - blow shit up, kill enemy soldiers, and prevent military attacks on the U.S.

      In short: It's the Michael Jordan of armed combat, and is compensated accordingly.
  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:52PM (#16327617)
    Those bondage sites were just research for the CIA's "rendition" program.
  • Not me... (Score:5, Funny)

    by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:53PM (#16327623) Journal
    Thank God I'm not wasting all of my time surfing web sites.
    (reload)(reload)(reload)(reload)Yay, new article!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Thank God I'm not wasting all of my time surfing web sites.
      (reload)(reload)(reload)(reload)Yay, new article!

      (reads headline) Oh... interesting... apparently C++ has died... again...
  • by dingDaShan ( 818817 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:54PM (#16327647)
    All productivity in the software industry ground to a halt as geeks flocked to shlashdot to check out the story about the decrease in productivity.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @04:55PM (#16327661) Homepage
    For example, what did they consider "working hours". There is a HUGE difference between doing things during 9am-12pm and from 1PM-5PM as opposed to things being done during 12-1PM or from 5PM-10PM.

    I know LOTS of people that use their lunch hour to surf the net or stay late and play video games after 5PM. I don't consider that unethical.

    Similarly, I don't think it is wrong to spend 15 minutes checking out an ebay auction or reading your personal email, while some addict goes outside and smokes a ciggarette/takes a coffee break.

    Without more information, this looks like a rabble rousing report instead of something usefull.

    • by tool462 ( 677306 )
      I agree. And I get suspicious any time numbers are quoted in absolute terms. They claim that 100,000 man-hours of labor were lost due to internet surfing (a specious claim as it is), but out of how many total man-hours that entire year? I bet every gov't employee spending 20-30 min a day surfing onling adds up pretty fast.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Abcd1234 ( 188840 )
      I don't consider that unethical.

      Yeah, but... porn at work??? Unethical or not, that's just nasty...
    • Likewise, Try this experiment:

      Get 2 identical computers. On computer number 1, open an e-bay web page.
      On computer number 2, open the same e-bay web page, and then open microsoft word.

      Now, to the web monitoring system, it looks like both computers are "USING" the auction page, but a human could be composing memos in microsoft word on computer number 2.

      How do they know how long someone sat and read a web page? The only way to do that is to have another human standing over your shoulder watching, and I'm p
  • Well instead of monitoring this issue, why don't they get some proxy servers and firewalls running to stop them. Corporations have been doing this since the series of tubes was invented. []
  • You want me to take a usage study conducted by the same government that made a guy who thinks the internet is a bunch of tubes in charge of regulating it seriously?

    I bet this report doesn't take into account people having multiple browsers or tabs open at the same time. Hell, if you looked at my logs it would look like all I did was surf slashdot all day. I can work and keep a tab for breaks open at the same time.
  • sure is jealous of the computer.
  • i'm certain that before the www there was just as much time wasting going on on just as many useless pursuits (cards, crossword puzzles, etc). if you have a job to do, and it doesn't get done, someone notices. but if you have downtime, which frequently happens in any large bureacracy, you waste your time with pointless pursuits. true in 1806, true in 2006

    it's just that logfiles make it easy to actually quantify this lost productivity for the first time. but in fact, one could make the case that the internet allows users to waste their time more... um... efficiently (snicker)
    • by Psiren ( 6145 )

      one could make the case that the internet allows users to waste their time more... um... efficiently (snicker)

      While I didn't miss the humour there, I think there is more than a grain of truth to that statement. At least if they are surfing websites they are at their desk. If the phone rings, or someone walks over to discuss something they can stop what they're doing and get straight back to work. If they've sneaked off somewhere to read a magazine/have a smoke/whatever, they're not immediately available.


  • which spawned the article, included in the list of prohibited items:

    Fundraising for external organizations or purposes (except as required as part of your official duties under applicable statutory authority and bureau policy)

    Can anyone please identify when a government agency should have employees using government equipment on government time to fundraise for external organizations? I can't think of any examples where it should be legally sanctioned and/or permissible by bureau policy.

    • I think there are some exceptions for federal workers doing stuff for the CFC (Combined Federal Campaign), which is kind of a mass fundraiser targetting all government employees. It's an attempt to minimize the number of different distractions and confine it to a single period. Also, I used to work for a non-profit that soley benefitted military personnel. They weren't allowed to do fundraising among the military, but the military conducted a fundraiser on their behalf every year.
  • Taxpayers will be a lot happier.

    Of course, if these workers have all that time left to surf the web, maybe they're redundant. Then again, if you take that route and start laying off, then you wind up with not enough trained workers during crunch time.

    Yup. The practical solution is the middle ground: establish a website whitelist including only essential sites to look at, and give 'em books to read. In fact, what I did as a manager was reach a compromise by adding and slashdot to the whitelist;
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:00PM (#16327761) Homepage Journal
    The study found that almost $2 Billion a year in productivity was being lost to these 'excessive indulgences'.... Put another way, this would equal 50 full-time employees doing nothing but surfing online game and auction sites.

    I didn't RTFA, but this would imply that those 50 full time employees have a bill + production rate of $40,000,000/year. Or roughly $20,000 dollars an hour. Unless the 50 employees they are talking about are lobbyist, I just don't see this as accurate.

    • by Servo ( 9177 )
      That's gotta be a typo. $2 million would equal 50 people at a reasonable average salary of $40k/year.

      Otherwise, I'd like to speak to someone about my tax dollars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by motsognir ( 1002548 )
      The article is wrong. At the end it provides a link to the actual report [] from the DOI, which states "$2,027,887.68 per year". So 2 million, not 2 billion, which jives a lot better with the 50 employee number.
  • These studies all operate on the "presumption" that if they didn't "surf the web", they would be more productive. If they didn't have the Web, they would find some other way to occupy their time, and it most probably would not be work related.
  • Since they apparently didn't correlate it to breaks and lunches and stuff.

    I wonder how many full-time-employee-equivalents it would take to cover all of the time that DOI employees spend eating, in the restroom, etc? And are those crises too?

  • Send all Internet connections thru proxies. Hire a couple of admins who have the job -- and nothing else -- of reviewing logs and applying content filters. Just flat out block porn, auction sites, non-official e-mail/webmail, stock/investment, gambling and sports sites. Start working down from there.

    Post a policy, make everyone attend an "awareness" class, make them sign off on it. Make sure they all understand they are being watched and this sort of thing won't be tolerated.

    Have the policy contain some
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't know you personally so I can't say I hate you, but if I ever figure out who you set these policies up with, I would never work for them. I can understand blocking things like porn sites if for no other reason than to save yourself from sexual harrasment suits and maybe the gambling sites to avoid embezzlement temptations. But why in the world would you block non-official email, financial sites and sports sites?

      It's not wrong to expect your employees to work. So you set up a policy that says th
      • by chill ( 34294 )
        They were all heavily regulated industries, like banks and investment institutions.

        Many had viruses that were found to have originated from web-based e-mail, causing major headaches and lots of downtime. I had this happen once at a hospital and that was all she wrote for web-based e-mail.

        Many viruses contain their own SMTP engine, so the easy way to detect and neutralize them is to have your firewall block port 25 communications to/from any system EXCEPT your authorized mail servers. Your monitoring agent
  • Haven't these people ever heard of an access control list before? Really now.
  • How do they know when someone was on a site for 30-60 minutes? My browser (Mozilla) always has a tab open to /. Would it show that I surf 24/7?
  • A common problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <kevin,gadd&gmail,com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#16327901) Homepage Journal
    Back when I did IT work for a certain government agency, I'd often have to clean porn dialers, viruses and spyware off users' machines, all obviously the result of people browsing inappropriate sites at work. We even had to fire a few individuals for using the office T1 to swap songs on Napster (this was back when Napster was both popular and illegal). This sort of behavior wouldn't suprise me at the typical office, but many of these individuals were in their 40s or 50s and had Masters degrees/doctorates and made high 5 digit (or even six digit) salaries, with good medical and benefits. It suprised me that so many of the engineers and other govt. employees would waste so much time and basically damage government property at work instead of waiting until they got home to do it - it's not like they couldn't afford their own computer and internet connection. Often the stupid things they did would prevent them from using the machine to actually get work done, because the software they had installed impaired the operation of the system.

    And strangely enough, in my free time while administering some fairly sizable gaming forums, I've actually had to ban users with hostmasks indicating they were using government internet connections. I even went to the trouble of tracking down the name of one individual and contacting their boss about their behavior. It's suprising how badly some professionals will behave at work when they think nobody's watching.

    (And yes, IT is watching you. Always watching.)

    Boy am I glad I don't work in IT anymore. :)
    • by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:48PM (#16328491)
      Let me guess, you are no longer in IT because you illegally spied on people instead of doing your fucking job?

      You know, small things like deploying antiviruses, re-imaging the hard-disks, firewalling known threats, whatever the hell the good amins are supposed to do?

      Self-righteous assholes like you give the rest of the I.T. folks an (undeserved) bad rep.
      • Re:A common problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <kevin,gadd&gmail,com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:18PM (#16328867) Homepage Journal
        When I have to come out and reformat someone's machine because they installed porn dialers and downloaded virus-infested software from porn sites, I think it's within my job description to at least inform the user that they're not supposed to be doing that sort of thing with government property.

        As far as spying on users and getting them fired goes, that wasn't my department. I managed the hardware and software on machines, not the company firewalls and proxy and such. I agree with your statement that the admins probably should have just been firewalling off applications like Napster and blocking known inappropriate websites. Nonetheless, the issue remains: These people were doing entirely inappropriate things with government property and then leaving it to me and other people in IT to clean up after them.

        I have always taken users' privacy very seriously, because I take *my* privacy very seriously. It doesn't take illegal spying or other illicit activities to notice when a user is doing completely retarded things using company resources. When the office T3 is getting modem-level throughput, it's pretty hard to not notice a bunch of connections open on napster ports from specific users' machines. If you're suggesting that a government employee has a right to do as they please with government computers and internet connections, how do you feel about what Mark Foley did with *his* government resources?

        If being offended by highly paid individuals wasting time on the job instead of helping maintain the country's infrastructure makes me self-righteous, then that label is entirely accurate. As it stands, I'm no longer in IT because I hated working for the government and I hated working in IT. I make best-selling video games now. :)
    • We even had to fire a few individuals for using the office T1 to swap songs on Napster (this was back when Napster was both popular and illegal).

      See, now, when my office had this problem back in the days of True Napster, they just emailed everybody to say that the internet usage policy banned this sort of thing, and the problem went away without them losing any valuable, trained employees.

      That's the difference between companies that value their workers and those that seem them as a commodity.
  • So out of 14,000,000 work hours, 100,000 are lost to frivolous web browsing? That's less than 1%, or less than 5 minutes per person per day. That's remarkably low; the government should be congratulated on effectively policing internet use. The numbers only look big because there are so many employees in the study.
  • Rational analysis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) * on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:13PM (#16327979) Homepage Journal
    This truly sucks for the US government that a few employees, taking short breaks, can cripple the government. The threat is obviously not from outside terrorists, but from the employees going to ebay during their lunch breaks. If our government is so fragile, we should indeed be afraid.

    Lets look at the numbers. Over a week they counted about 7,000 employees going to illicit sites. This represents about than 1% of the 70,000 employees of the DOI. Furthermore they found that these employees spent 2000 hours on these illicit sites, or perhaps 15 minutes a day during the test week.

    From these stated fact, they found three interesting things. First, the wasted time represented 50 employees, or less than 0.1% of the workforce. Second they found that the internet use represented about 24 hours of internet use, presumable bandwidth. They then took this 24 hour number and, presumable, combined it with the total budget of the DOI, 10.4 billion, realized that 24 hours was one fifth of a week, and came up with 2 billion dollars in loss.

    So here is what we have. 1% of the employees, wasting 0.1% of the potential productive time of the DOI, uses 20% of the budget. This result does not indicate a problem with the employees, but a fundamental issue with the process of budgeting and managing money. Any structure that exposes 20% of the budget to risk due to the actions of 1% of the employees is surely inadequate.

    Now, the article did state that 'some' computers were accessing sites that would normally be considered uncool for work, and certainly those few people at those 'some' computer can be handled by management, unless those people are themselves high ranking officials that cannot be easily reprimanded. One wonders why those 'some' computers are even allowed to go to those sites.

    In the end it shows the lack of logical skills possessed by the average reporter, and, i fear, by posting it on /., the lack of logic skills of the average geek..

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      "Any structure that exposes 20% of the budget to risk due to the actions of 1% of the employees is surely inadequate."

      you mean like every corporation?
    • Lets look at the numbers. Over a week they counted about 7,000 employees going to illicit sites. This represents about than 1% of the 70,000 employees of the DOI.

      Come again? 7,000/70,000=10%, so 1 out of 10 employees - a more substantial number. However, I doubt that all 70K of the employees have a computer - janitor, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree with you.
      But this has to be taken with some perspective.

      Next week, the report will be about how bathroom breaks cost the government 2.5 million dollars and that smoke and coffee break are actually a sinkhole at over 4 million dollars.

      The study is talking about 15 minutes per day.
      This stems from the stupid assumption that people have to be performing at work for (at least) 8h straight (somehow, those studies never talk about unpaid overtime...). The y talk productivity with metrics that are highly ir
  • I am APPALLED and OUTRAGED at this unauthorized government subsidy!

    I demand that they hire 50 more employees to surf my sites to even the playing field.

  • Because I would have skewed those numbers way up.
  • The problem is most of these logging systems cannot distinguish from legitimate browser surfing from spyware, bots, dialers, malware etc.

    No I certainly do not blame the users for having to deal with insecure software provided by paid third party vendors. I don't care what you think it is simply not the users fault if their machine gets owned, the responsible
    party is the software vendor.
  • Couple of projectors in very public places running something like DriftNet [] which sniffs network and displays passing image files, and combining user's name and photo with the image.... Could be fun....

    Nothing like a public humiliation.... Of course the flip side is people intentionally trying to make it on there....

  • Stock the break room with hookers and blackjack.

    Same problem across the board. If we learned anything from the Clinton years, it's the desperate need for a White House bordello.

  • Are you sure it wasn't referring to web pages?
  • Would you rather they did work? What useful govt work have you ever seen? Be careful what you wish for:

    The only limits on the growth of a bureaucracy are the competence of the denizens.

    • Smoke breaks every 15 minutes
    • Judicious use of the restroom (with porno mag in hand)
    • Trips to the store (you know to buy stuff for work and just about anything else you can do while not in the office)
    So the point is that time wasted surfing websites is probably not any worse then other time wasted and all these things are not cummulative. I mean at some point your boss is going to notice if you don't get a single thing done in a given week.
  • A couple of years back when I was just leaving a job, they put in a picture scanning device that was able to retrieve pics from the data stream and pull out skin pics. It was just installed as a test at the time and it was a pretty cool device. They were very surprised by the amount of skin people were looking at (this is a government agency btw) and in one or two cases, what they found forced the government folks to take action against two employees. I suspect it was child porn since they were just laughin
  • Apparently they don't have to do anything.

    If you can log the traffic, you can block it.
  • by wwillia99 ( 984401 )
    It has been my experience that people goof off most at work when they have nothing else to do.

    So what they need to do is find more work for them or fire 50-100 of there full time employees for surfing the net to much and and not replace them, problem solved.
  • In a New Report on Reports it was reported that reports are a waste of time and money. Reportedly the report reporter was unavailable for further reporting.
  • by LFS.Morpheus ( 596173 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:50PM (#16328521) Homepage
    The original report actually says $2 million ("$2,027,887.68"), not $2 billion: []
  • Quick, somebody send Dubya an email loaded with urls to sex sites, eBay, and games, before he does something else.

    For that matter, send one to Congress as well, but I think we know that we can dispense with the eBay and gaming links on that one.

    This government is not nearly crippled enough.
  • ...the researchers determined that all the sex sites were only accessed by Congressman Mark Foley (R - FL). They further commented, "well, that problem appears to be solved". :-)
  • Instead of surfing, they would just take coffee break, or bathroom break, or cigarette break, or jab in the hallway...

    People have been wasting time since the idea of "job" was invented.
  • You are simply gone the next day and "all questions must be referred to HR".

    They are very aggressive about this kinda stuff because otherwise their insurance will go through the roof.

    And yes.. I am home sick today.
  • How much is left for the rest of the government employees? ;)
  • How many of these hits were adware infested win95 PCs. We are talking about government systems here, and I am hesitant to believe that a report like this was carried out with such an attention to detail and covering all known variables. In the unlikely scenario that someone doing a statistical study actually payed full attention to detail (which would probably be a first), and even if these people did intentionally visit the sites on the job, you can bet they were managers/executives in which case they do
  • .xxx (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:04PM (#16329483) Homepage
    This sort of thing gives some justification for enforcing the .xxx domain.

    Simply block .xxx at the corporate firewall and a big part of your problem goes away.

  • Everyone knows you can't possibly surf a website while conducting business on the phone.

    Also, how do they know you're on the site for 30-60 minutes? If I open a website, then minimize it or leave it up with my screen locked, is it clocking that time? Hell, I could be "surfing the web for 8 hours a day".

    4,000 -7,000 entries sounds like a lot, but lets break that down. I got to site A, which pulls adds for sites B and C. Is their system going to log that as 1 site or 3? I would need to know all of the de

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."