For months Interior Department employees were without web access — and the public website was off-line — under court order due to concerns about data security. During the Cobell litigation over the Department's handling of certain Indian Trusts, Judge RoyceLamberth ordered the shut down.
Now that the Interior Department is back on-line, it seems that quite a few employees are making up for lost time. A weeklong internal investigation by the Department's Inspector General found thousands of log entries for sexually explicit and gambling websites, in addition to game and auction sites. In that week alone, 440 DOI employees visited sexually explicit websites on their government computers. The IG's report, "Excessive Indulgences" estimated that time spent on auction and gaming websites accounted for over 100,000 hours of lost productivity over the course of the year.
The Interior Department has begun to respond to the report by upgrading blocking software to limit employee accesss to inappropriate sites. According to some reports, this new software is blocking access to many blogs. Indeed, it is specifically alleged that certain conservative blogs are blocked while equivalent liberal blogs or not.
Given the problems of computer misuse identified in the IG's report, I could understand (though I would disagree with) an Interior Department policy barring or limiting access to blogs generally. Screening blogs based on their ideological content, on the other hand, is more troublng. If it is true, as claimed by Gates of Vienna, that Captain's Quarters and Powerline are blocked, while DailyKos and Informed Comment remain accessible, that is a problem. Government agencies should not use ideological criteria for selecting which sites government employees may access.
Are these reports accurate? If there are VC readers at DOI, please let us know in the comments below. (Indeed, let us know if you can still access the VC.)
UPDATE: Gates of Vienna's Baron Bodissey is convinced something is nefarious is afoot at DOI. I am not so sure. As noted in the comments below, there are many possible explanations for the pattern of blocked sites that do not involve deliberate ideological filtering by government bureaucrats. Perhaps time will tell.