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The Fire Alarm Division of the University of Washington may seem an unlikely place for corruption. But for over a year, the state Auditor's Office

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University of Washington Staffer Played Fantasy Football While Paid Overtime

Web surfing.jpg
The Fire Alarm Division of the University of Washington may seem an unlikely place for corruption. But for over a year, the state Auditor's Office has been investigating a whistleblower's complaint that two workers misused public resources. The results are now in and, while mixed, they serve as a cautionary tale to all workers who use their office computers to surf the Web (i.e. just about everyone).

The Auditor's Office report, released last week, cleared a division supervisor of inappropriately approving overtime for two lead technicians, responsible for coordinating most of the fire alarm testing on campus. After reviewing payroll information for a 13-month history ending last January, state investigators found that no "gross waste of funds," as defined by the state Whistleblower Act, occurred.

That act must set a pretty high bar because investigators also found that one of those technicians was spending massive amount of work time--including time he was on the overtime clock--surfing the Web and checking his personal e-mail.

How much time, you ask? What is considered over the line?

If you're a state employee, the line is demarcated by an administrative code that allows for "occasional but limited personal use of state resources." It's a blurry line, unquestionably. But the regulation does stipulate that such use be "brief" and "infrequent."

And the technician in question, unnamed in the Auditor's Office report (although a KOMO News report in April named both technicians under investigation), didn't just cross the line. He went miles and miles past it.

His transgressions, according to the report:

  • 5,211 visits to non-work related websites pertaining to sports news, fantasy football, animal rescue, social networking, video and the subject's personal email account.
  • 30 visits a day to non-work related sites on at least 50 separate dates.
  • 192 visits to non-work related sites in a single day. We estimate the subject spent three hours and 40 minutes visiting non-work related sites that day.

At least we can give the guy credit for diverse interests. Fantasy football and animal rescue sites? Maybe the guy yearns for a dog by his side while he cheers on his imaginary team.

Even so, it obviously doesn't seem like paying this guy a lot of extra money is the best use of government resources. The Auditor's Office is recommending that the university review the "cost-effectiveness" of its overtime policies.

 
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