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).
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.