from the and-what's-wrong-with-simply-enforcing-existing-policies? dept
Because federal employees just can't seem to stop watching porn while on the clock, a legislator is stepping in to do something about it.
Rep. Mark Meadows on Wednesday introduced the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act, which he said would prevent government employees from taking their eyes off their work."Prevent" is a strong word, considering both the limitations of the nascent bill and federal employees' willingness to go above and beyond when it comes to porn-watching in the workplace. Meadows' statement on the bill points out one particular EPA employee who admitted to viewing porn up to 6 hours a day (indeed, he was watching porn when the Inspector General came knocking) and had accessed or downloaded more than 7,000 pornographic images.
It's not just the EPA. The SEC and FCC also employ their fair share of (apparently) professional porn enthusiasts. But what Meadows is demanding in his bill [pdf] is little more than a reiteration of existing policies.
Except as provided in subsection 9 (b), not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall issue guidelines that prohibit the access of a pornographic or other explicit web site from a Federal computer.Subsection 9 (b) basically states "unless watching porn is your job" -- i.e., investigative work, etc. Given the amount of porn-watching occurring at federal agencies, it would seem that some new "Porn-Watcher Watcher" positions will be opening if Meadows' bill manages to snag a Presidential signature.
But the bill -- as proposed -- will have little to no effect on ardent federal porn fans. New guidelines, or even a new firewall (if that's the direction the OMB goes), won't stop those intent on whiling away their work hours in a permanent state of arousal. Firewalls can be circumvented and, unless the guidelines contain significant punishments for violating them, new policies will be equally useless.
It can safely be said that no current government policies allow for the accessing of porn with government computers, so we know the policy route is wholly ineffective. The addition of bolded print or ALL CAPS from the OMB isn't suddenly going to take the lead out of these government pencils. The longevity of the EPA's porn fan (both in terms of per-day consumption and continued employment) should be all the evidence needed to prove Meadows' bill useless -- something Meadows doesn't seem to have considered when writing his press release (or the bill itself).
I'm in full agreement that it shouldn't take a new law to prevent federal employees from abusing themselves and their equipment while on the clock. But it won't be fixed by a more-disappointed-than-angry press release and bill demanding new policies within 90 days of enactment. The government actually needs to take control of this situation by booting its bored and frisky employees out of their all-too-comfortable positions and hire people willing to treat federal employment with the same respect millions of private employees are expected to treat their jobs. Enforce the policies already on the books. The nation really doesn't need more laws.