Federal Agencies May Lose Funding For R&D Projects Because The NSF Didn't Fire An Employee Who Saw Porn

from the there-goes-the-sec dept

Washington DC can be a funny place when it comes to negotiating legislation. Apparently, an effort to renew a program that provides billions in funding for important long term research efforts (you know, the kind of programs the government should be funding) may get held up over some amendments added to the bill... including one that would ban federal money going to any gov't employees disciplined for viewing porn on their computers. Effectively, the amendment means if you view porn on your computer as a gov't employee, you are fired. Actually, you don't even have to view the porn. The language says no federal funding can go:
"to salaries to those officially disciplined for violations regarding the viewing, downloading, or exchanging of pornography..."
Want to get a federal employee fired? Send them an email with a pornographic picture as an attachment. What does this particular amendment have to do with federal funding for research? Apparently, the guy who wrote the amendment says he's upset about giving money to the NSF, because it merely "disciplined" and suspended rather than fired an employee found with porn on his computer. Of course, give the recent revelations about porn web surfing at the SEC, if this goes through, say goodbye to the SEC.

Because no one wants to be seen as supporting government employees viewing porn, this particular amendment passed easily. We're coming up on election season, and you can bet no Congressional reps wanted to hand their opponents this line in a commercial: "While in Congress, Rep. X voted in favor of letting federal employees view porn on their computers..." or something along those lines.

Of course, that same amendment also pulls funding for a number of programs and may cause the entire bill to be withdrawn, leaving the status of funding for a lot of research in limbo. Now, I'm all for making sure that the funding is used in a reasonable manner, and if certain programs are ineffective, it's worth looking to see if they should be removed from the bill. But, to lump in decisions on funding with a program about firing employees who view porn just seems like a crass political ploy during a debate on a particularly important issue. It may be par for the course in Congress, but to those of us who actually care about innovation, it's stories like this that make us so cynical about the US government.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 14th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    *eye roll*

    As if it makes any difference!

    If I'm paying a scientist to work for me, I don't care what kind of perv he/she is, as long as I get valid results on the research I'm paying for!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    the republicants strike again. they cant get porn outlawed without violating the first amendment, so they do everything they can to demonize anyone who might see it. god has no place in government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 14th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    "god(sic) has no place in government."
    Honestly, if God will do a good job, then I could care less whether She's in government or not.

    ; P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    show me (profile), May 14th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Wording of the amendment

    The small bit of the actual wording of the amendment quoted in the article says, "to salaries to those officially disciplined for violations regarding the viewing, downloading, or exchanging of pornography..." so all you have to do is if you catch someone viewing pornography, don't officially discipline them unless it is serious enough to warrant firing. What's the BFD?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    So if i Email my Congressman Porn, or the President, do they get fired??? so starting the email blitz :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), May 14th, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Wording of the amendment

    Well, if you are trying to establish a pattern of behavior for an employee that ultimately needs to be fired or disciplined, officially disciplining them is about all you can do. Because some federal employees are unionized (although this problem still applies if they aren't), there really aren't any repercussions you can impose unless there is an official record related to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    mmm, does this mean that the Florida State Senate should no longer get government:
    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/floridas-mike-bennett-caught-viewing-por n-on-senate-floor_100359252.html
    Oh, wait, he didn't actually get disciplined, did he?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    lux (profile), May 14th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Want to get a federal employee fired? Send them an email with a pornographic picture as an attachment.

    I doubt just receiving an email with a porn attachment is grounds for any sort of disciplinarian action, but hey, why let the facts get in the way of a sensationalist statement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    NullOp, May 14th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    How 'bout...

    Lets get a bill passed that withholds funding from those in government behaving in a stupid or egotistical manner!!!

    Whoa!! That'll bring down the house, yeehaa!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    I don't care if they lose funding, much of the proceeds of that research ends up getting patented by someone anyways and the public ends up having to pay twice to use it. Let them lose the funding, we can save the tax dollars instead of wasting it on research that we can't freely use because it will be patented.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

    Not to mention the copyrights that the research publications wind up having.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Sounds good to me. Fire all of the effing parasites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Dr. Harl Delos (profile), May 15th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    There's A Legal Definition of Pornography

    Pornography is illegal. One doesn't want to use the term "pornography" when disciplining an employee unless one can prove it. Otherwise, a big lawsuit may result.

    What one can do is discipline employees for downloading workplace-inappropriate materials. That indicates a lapse in judgment, not a moral failure - and it doesn't present any problems in regard to this legislation. If someone is not downloading dirty pictures, but actually is downloading porn - which is pretty much limited to pedophilia or bestiality imagery (don't know why images are porn online but text isn't, but that's the law), one probably ought to handle it as a criminal matter, rather than as a human resources problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Joe Perry (profile), May 15th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: There's A Legal Definition of Pornography

    in what part of the US is pornography illegal? I don't think you understand the term pornography if you think it's only applicable to pedophilia or bestiality. I'll link you to the Oxford dictionary just so you can easily educate yourself. http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/pornography?view=uk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This