Virginia disciplines 86 workers for misusing Internet

Virginia disciplines 86 workers for misusing Internet

The Virginia Transportation Department last week disciplined 86 employees and contract workers for abuse and excessive use of the Internet.

VDOT last week fired 17 employees for accessing sexually explicit sites, according to a fact sheet issued by the department. Its internal audit arm identified 15 of the employees, and two others turned themselves in.

The department also fired eight contract workers for Internet abuse but said they did not access pornographic sites.

In addition, VDOT suspended 61 workers for two weeks without pay for excessive Internet use. Fifty-nine of the suspended workers were identified by the internal auditors, and two others turned themselves in, VDOT said.

'The majority of the Internet abuse occurred in the Central Office' in Richmond, VDOT officials said. 'Internet abuse was statewide; all districts were affected except Culpepper.'

The department's internal auditors checked Internet use of all VDOT employees during the week of April 8 and identified unusually high volume on 93 PCs. Several people were identified as using the Internet for two hours or more on a day during that week. VDOT managers and supervisors followed up by checking other weeks and months to identify Internet abuse patterns.

VDOT commissioner Philip A. Shucet informed the agency's employees of the firings and suspensions in a letter stating, 'This abuse goes far beyond occasionally looking at a shopping site or the stock market or sending a personal e-mail'we're talking about gross abuse that constitutes a substantial waste of time and money. ' I won't tolerate it, and neither should you.'

Shucet said the internal auditors checked every agency computer user's activity. 'Such monitoring is fully within our rights and is clearly stated on the policy page you see when you log on to the Internet,' he said.

Shucet continued, 'To tolerate abuse during times when state employees are facing layoffs is unthinkable.'

VDOT said it would not seek successors for the fired employees. Agency spokeswoman Tamara Neale said Shucet is meeting with managers today to ensure that they maintain productivity among their employees.

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