Senators Crack Down: No More Porn

Free porn? Not if three senators have anything to say about it.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, Barbara Mikulski and Richard Shelby introduced an amendment to the stimulus package Thursday that would freeze $3 million in operating funds for the National Science Foundation in the wake of a report that NSF employees have accessed pornography sites on government computers.

“The kind of behavior outlined in the inspector general’s report is outrageous, repugnant and illegal,” Mikulski said in a statement. “It won’t be tolerated. The NSF must get its act together and take the steps we’ve outlined to restore the kind of accountability and decency the public deserves from its federal agencies.”

Grassley called the legislation “a shot over the bow.” It stipulates that the NSF would have to meet certain criteria before the operating funds would be unfrozen. This includes the hiring of an outside counsel to provide oversight and the submission of progress reports to Congress.

“It is absolutely critical that the inspector general’s recommendations on IT security awareness be implemented as soon as possible to prevent further incidents,” Shelby said in the statement.

The revelations of porn surfing at the NSF were made last week in the agency’s semi-annual report. Among the most egregious abuses was that of an unnamed “senior official,” who was found to have spent, over the course of two years, 20 percent of his paid work hours viewing graphic images and engaging in sexually explicit online chats.

“It’s inexcusable that workers at the NSF were watching pornography rather than doing their jobs and respecting the taxpayers who fund their work,” said Grassley. “And, what’s more troubling is a culture that would allow such widespread abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

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