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NASA Employee Suspended For Blogging At Work 211

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-wanna-blog-now dept.
BobJacobsen writes "FCW has an article about a NASA employee that was suspended for blogging on government time. Seems the unnamed employee's 'politically partisan' blog entries were a violation of the Hatch Act. The article ends with a chilling quote from the government's Special Counsel in the case: 'Today, modern office technology multiplies the opportunities for employees to abuse their positions and — as in this serious case — to be penalized, even removed from their job, with just a few clicks of a mouse.'" Thing is, he was soliciting campaign donations and writing partisan stuff.
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NASA Employee Suspended For Blogging At Work

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  • fair enough (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:02AM (#23570805) Journal
    Sounds fair to me. Anyone who wastes time at work posting on internet sites should really expe... shit the boss is coming.
    • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:08AM (#23570909) Homepage Journal
      Don't worry, it's not like they'd put in a filt###*($&(*((___NO CARRIER
    • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

      by teslar (706653) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:23AM (#23571089)
      As seen on bash.org [bash.org]:
      <Ben174> : If they only realized 90% of the overtime they pay me is only cause i like staying here playing with Kazaa when the bandwidth picks up after hours.
      <ChrisLMB> : If any of my employees did that they'd be fired instantly.
      <Ben174> : Where u work?
      <ChrisLMB> : I'm the CTO at LowerMyBills.com
      *** Ben174 (BenWright@TeraPro33-41.LowerMyBills.com) Quit (Leaving)
    • by Wowsers (1151731)
      So running your own business does have it's uses :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not as much about wasting time as it's very much against federal rules to do anything political while on the job.
      It's sad but warranted. He could've been more careful.
  • ..makes sense to me.. at least he wasn't fired
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:18AM (#23571025)
      This was an inappropriate thing for him to be doing, and he knew he was breaking the rules. He should be fired, not suspended. If he can be suspended for 180 days without affecting anyone elses workflow, then he clearly isn't doing anything important anyway.

      A more important issue is what this says about the bloat and inefficiency at NASA. If an employee can spend years working on their blog at work, it is because they are not being given enough real work to do.

      • by _KiTA_ (241027)

        This was an inappropriate thing for him to be doing, and he knew he was breaking the rules. He should be fired, not suspended. If he can be suspended for 180 days without affecting anyone elses workflow, then he clearly isn't doing anything important anyway.

        A more important issue is what this says about the bloat and inefficiency at NASA. If an employee can spend years working on their blog at work, it is because they are not being given enough real work to do.

        Obviously you're new to this procrastination thing. Let me explain.

        See that big pile of stuff to do in your "in" box?

        Ok, put that aside for a minute.

        Now go read Sluggy Freelance. [sluggy.com]

        Ta daaa~! Welcome to the US Workforce!

      • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:53AM (#23571531) Journal
        You clearly are clueless. You've probably never even held a job, let alone run a business or supervised anyone.

        You don't get fired from any job for anything but the most egregious actions, like embezzlement or not showing up without calling in (or in Disney World if you are a Pluto, lifting your leg at a fire hydrant or cursing in public).

        First, unlike you teenagers, adults go to work to earn a living. Supervisors, unlike the corporations they work for, empathise with this. You don't deprive a person of their livelihood for something trivial.

        Second, it costs the employer money to place a person in any given job. There are hiring costs and training costs, and then it takes time for a new employee to get up to speed. That's not to mention unemployment insurance benefits.

        If the person's getting his job done, you don't fire him, you use lesser punishment.

        Many (actually most I've worked at) jobs have slow periods and times where there is too much work to keep up with. When I worked in the merchandise division at Disney in the early '80s, for example, there would be a half hour of tedius, mind-numbing boredon followed by more "guests" (as Disney called their customers) than one could reasonably keep up with.

        Other jobs have had days with nothing to do but read the paper, followed by overtime. Life doesn't always run on a smooth schedule, kid.
        • by Sancho (17056) *
          They suspended this guy for 6 months without pay. He's going to be looking for another job, and the only kind of job he's going to be able to find (paying anything close to what he was making before) will expect him to be there for more than the term of his suspension. Suspending him like this is just a way of firing him without having to deal with unemployment--you don't get unemployment if you quit, even if you quit because you were suspended without pay.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by badasscat (563442)
            Suspending him like this is just a way of firing him without having to deal with unemployment--you don't get unemployment if you quit, even if you quit because you were suspended without pay.

            You can get unemployment if you quit. It depends on the state. I got unemployment when I quit my job in the game industry. The standard in my state (New York) is that any "reasonable person" would have done the same thing. The conditions have to be such that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue working
        • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
          I guess breaking federal law doesn't qualify as a "most egregious" action in your world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AMuse (121806)
        Really? The fact that an employee in an org with 50k employees had time to blog says a lot about the efficiency of the entire org?

        And "Spending some time on their blog in the years X, Y and Z" is not equivalent to "Spending three years (X+Y+Z) on their blog". The article also never mentioned that the suspension wouldn't affect anyone elses' workflow. If the org did things right, they have backups for every employee with any real responsibility. What if he had to spend 180 days recovering from a bad car wrec
      • >This was an inappropriate thing for him to be doing, and he knew he was breaking the rules.

        It was not only inappropriate, but also illegal. He wasn't just breaking the rules, he was breaking the law. There are different standards for public employees. It is one thing to read /. or blog about tech or Futurama or why Hello Kitty should be shot. You can't do politics. Period. Well, unless you're Karl Rove and can disappear the evidence.

  • Just like posting on slashdot :)
  • Eh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmonEzhno (1276076) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:02AM (#23570817)
    Honestly, the employee knew he was breaking the rules and if he was writing partisan stuff, I don't want to say he deserved it, but he knew what he was doing.
  • Well gosh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:02AM (#23570821)

    Thing is, he was soliciting campaign donations and writing partisan stuff.

    Then he should have had a little discipline and waited till he was home.

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by imyy4u3 (1290108) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:04AM (#23570843)
    how do you blog with "just a few clicks of a mouse?"

    Perhaps the Special Counsel should be fired for "being a total idiot."
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yFREEBSDahoo.com minus bsd> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:10AM (#23570931) Homepage
      There are programs that write sports articles. There's only so many ways to write a short article relating the results of an athletic contest, so newspapers have programs that do it.

      Can't imagine it would be too difficult for a NASA engineer to write a program that automates political blogging to the point that you can get a new post out with a few clicks. Especially considering the 'quality' of some of the blogs out there....
      • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:33AM (#23571221)
        Well, folks, it's happening again! The

        ( ) New York Times
        ( ) LA Times
        ( ) Washington Post

        is reporting that the government

        ( ) is censoring scientists with unpleasant news.
        ( ) is going to cut back program _________.
        ( ) has been engaging in warrantless wiretapping.
        ( ) wants to raise taxes.
        ( ) plans to institute new product regulations

        This is just another case of

        ( ) Big Government ramming itself down our throats!
        ( ) the War on Science!
        ( ) how conservatives are killing the safety net!
        ( ) government punishing anyone productive!
        ( ) how the country's becoming a totalitarian dictatorship!

        HT:

        ( ) Digg
        ( ) Slashdot
        ( ) Technorati
        ( ) The other blogger who's a carbon copy of me
        • by Amouth (879122)
          someone mod parent up.. my points ran out yesterday.. and this has tobe one of the best forms i have seen in a while
          • by mikael (484) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @12:47PM (#23572419)
            Have you seen the slashdot story generator [bbspot.com]:

            Ask Slashdot: Can I Use Linux For Destroying The Ozone Layer?
            Posted by brian on Wed May 28, 12:41 PM
            from the have fun hitting reload page dept.
            ScissorJammer asks "I just started playing around with Linux and it looks very powerful. I started thinking that this program might be perfect for my plans of destroying the ozone layer. Has any other Slashdot user tried using Linux in this way, or is the Open Source community not really into destroying the ozone layer? Either way I'd like to hear your views."


            Trailer For Indiana Jones Sequel Released
            Posted by brian on Wed May 28, 12:44 PM
            from the have fun hitting reload page dept.
            Angel writes "The new trailer for teh upcoming Indiana Jones sequel has been relaesed. This time starring Albert Einstein and Bruce Perens. Let's hope in this one that Albert Einstein can take teh bad guys and behead them with a guillotine. Go grab it before it gets Slashdotted."


            New Distributed Computing Project Will Try To Help Retrieve The Amulet Of Yendor
            Posted by brian on Wed May 28, 12:45 PM
            from the have fun hitting reload page dept.
            Distributed computing projects have been used in searching for aliens, and decapitating zombies. Now, Nvidia has announced a new program that will allow you to use your spare computing cycles in helping to help retrieve the Amulet of Yednor. Versions are available for Internet Explorer so download adn start crunching.
    • Click on 'update blog'.

      Right Click on some text, highlight selection, select 'copy'

      Right click on text box, select 'paste'

      Click on 'submit'
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      I think that the special counsel should only be fired if they can be shown to be pedantic on Slashdot.
    • by CompMD (522020)
      I think that blogging with "just a few clicks of a mouse" is indicative of the level of actual content present in most blogs today.
  • I have to be mindful of when I am at work shouldn't this apply to everyone else?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    many (maybe most) people would be disciplined for doing ANY blogging on company time. why should government workers be held to a lower standard?
    • by Liquidrage (640463) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#23571141)
      They aren't. Many companies also allow personal use of the internet (with varying rules regulating that use). Many companies don't. Many government entities do. Many don't.

      Is it OK to spend 5 minutes in the hallway talking to co-workers about the big game last night? Some places/bosses wouldn't care. Others would. Some places give you breaks and lunches. Many professionals don't a whistle that blows telling them it's break time. They manage their own time.

      There is no "one size fits all here". And certainly no "lower standard" you could guess at based on the article.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Divide By Zero (70303)
        I'm sure you recognize the distinction, but I want to get it out there and be clear.

        Many companies also allow personal use of the internet (with varying rules regulating that use). Many companies don't. Many government entities do. Many don't.

        It's not just "personal use" we're talking about here. It's partisan politics. Random Government Agency can have an Acceptable Use Policy defining how much personal business you can do on gov't time. (Usually, it ain't much.) RGA's AUP gets trumped by the Hatch Act, which specifically prohibits using government time and resources to engage in partisan politics. And that's how it ought to be. People who work for the go

        • Yes, I recognize the distinction. However, the poster I responded to was not discussing that distinction. In fact, it was clear he was removing that distinction and commenting on just blogging in the workplace in general.

          Having 1st hand experience in different levels of government and private, I pointed out that every place is different. The most lax personal use I've ever had was at a private gig I worked at for 5 years. I've had government locations locked down so that even wiki was blocked and no perso
    • by conureman (748753)
      I'd like to see what his actual productivity was compared to that of his former co-workers who are allegedly still working.
      Almost everyone goofs off on the job sometimes. Some knuckleheads haven't figured out that the computer can watch you even when the boss's back is turned. This of course, was a waste of OUR money which is why it was a federal crime. I don't know what circumstances prevented his removal from his position. I find it irksome that he gets his job back in 180 days, and apparently can
      • Oops. my bad.
        No problem with wasting company time on his blog. It was only the political slant that was evil.
        Gotta RTFA.
      • by Sancho (17056) *

        This of course, was a waste of OUR money which is why it was a federal crime.

        That's not how it came across to me. The Hatch Act seems to be an attempt to prevent conflicts of interest by restricting the types of activities in which federal employees can engage. http://www.osc.gov/ha_fed.htm [osc.gov]

        I'm surprised by the restrictions, but what seems most important at this point is the following:

        These federal and D.C. employees may not- ...
        # engage in political activity while:

        * on duty
        * in a government office
        * wearing an official uniform
        * using a government vehicle

        This is very specifically about "goofing off" by engaging in political activity while on duty and in a government office, not about federal employees goofing off in general.

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:06AM (#23570879)
    ...as long as he was campaigning for the other guy.
  • Hatch Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lxy (80823) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:08AM (#23570903) Journal
    Since I didn't know about this Act, I searched and found:

    This [osc.gov] nice writeup. Bottom line is, this guy's a federal employee soliciting funds and pushing a political agenda on work time.

    This of course has nothing to do with blogging, as you could replace "blogging" with "making phone calls" or "mailing letters" or "stalking people at the coffee maker".
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Who would have thought Orrin Hatch would ever do anything good?
    • Re:Hatch Act (Score:5, Informative)

      by richmaine (128733) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:39AM (#23571299)
      I was (before retirement) a NASA employee for 35 years, and I do know the Hatch act well... as I ought to, it being drilled into us every year at mandatory and really boring "ethics" training. I feel it mandatory to quote "ethics" because it was just about laws and nothing about actual ethics, the subjects two having less correlation than one might hope. The article, and most of the posters here, are seriously misrepresenting the Hatch act.

      In particular, the Hatch act has nothing to do with whether you are at work or not. The Hatch act prohibits a government employee from doing pretty much anything political even on your own time and with your own equipment. It is pretty draconian. And, of course, it only applies to peons; those high-level muck-a-mucks who are most likely to be abusing their positions are exempt. The excuse for all this is that it "protects" the employees from political pressure. Pretty lame excuse, though.

      The bit about doing this stuff on government time is completely unrelated to the Hatch act. That's a distinctly separate offense, and one for which there is much less excuse.

      It is unclear from the article whether the suspension was really because of the Hatch act offense or the use of government time.equipment. I suppose it could have been both.
      • Re:Hatch Act (Score:5, Informative)

        by AMuse (121806) <slashdot-amuse@foofus. c o m> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @12:11PM (#23571839) Homepage
        Rich: These days the Hatch act interpretation, at least at NASA, is a bit more loose. From what I've been told, us peons can do nearly any political activities we want while on our own personal time, but nothing during work hours, or using government equipment. Bumper stickers are still OK on your car. Supervisors are held to a bit more strict of a standard I think, since they could force employees' hands.

        We can also still run for and hold local office as long as we're not violating any conflict of interest rules.
      • by vingilot (218702)
        wrong, the hatch act does not prohibit political activity on your own time. I have a friend who worked for OSC (as an IG). That said the current head of OSC, Josh Block, is a real knuckle head. He is being investigated for multiple ethics violations, such as using gov't funds for political activity. Do a google search about him.
      • by Sancho (17056) *

        The bit about doing this stuff on government time is completely unrelated to the Hatch act. That's a distinctly separate offense, and one for which there is much less excuse.

        This doesn't seem to be wholly accurate anymore. [osc.gov] I don't know if the specific provisions about doing it on work time are a part of the 1993 amendment or not, but the current text seems to explicitly prohibit all political activity while at work, and only explicitly prohibit some political activity while on your own time.

        I wonder if this law has ever been challenged as a first amendment violation.

      • It is critical that the Civil Service function between changes in administration. If a new President came in and fired everyone to give overpaid jobs to the "friends and family plan" for the party and his supporters, you'd have a completely inept government, instead of our mostly inept one.

        These days, we take for granted that the Civil Servants are employees doing a job, not appointees serving as the pleasure of the President, but understand how difficult it was to arrive there. Until Social Security and
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      This of course has nothing to do with blogging, as you could replace "blogging" with "making phone calls" or "mailing letters" or "stalking people at the coffee maker".

      It should also be noted that JSC has a fairly reasonable policy towards personal use of IT resources. It's more or less the same thing with use of phones and mail. Personal use in an unto itself isn't an issue. Personal use becomes an issue when that use incurs a undo cost to the Government, interferes with work, supports a personal business, etc. So as has been pointed out, blogging is not itself the problem.

      Being a Federal employee involves a lot of extra baggage folks aren't always aware of. I woul

      • by orielbean (936271)
        The depiction of the Federal govt employee life in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was hilarious - a several-page memo circulating about rules on toilet paper pooling and the endless polygraphs that everyone submitted to.
  • Well, (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:08AM (#23570905)
    Well, how I feel depends on what political bias the employee had.
    If the employee's views agree with mine, then they are jackbooted fascist thugs for suspending him.
    If I disagree with those views, then the employee has every right to deal with this inappropriate use of paid time.
  • by Zooperman (1182761) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:09AM (#23570913)
    Yeah, if you get caught using company computers to do personal business like that, of course you're going to get nailed. That is true in most private sector companies, and especially true in government agencies where the rules are even stricter. There's no story worth reporting here. Guy did something wrong, and he paid the price. Period. Move along, citizens...
  • Government jobs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:09AM (#23570917) Homepage Journal
    Are very hard to lose, unless you break a few simple rules, like using govt. property for personal reasons, or blogging about politics.
    • Are very hard to lose, unless you break a few simple rules, like using govt. property for personal reasons[REMOVED ,] or for blogging about politics.

      Sorry to be anal about the grammar, but there is a significant difference. You implied that one could get in trouble for blogging about politics. The actual article is about getting in trouble for using gov't property to blog about politics. And to solicit donations. Such use is against the black-letter law.

      • by Sancho (17056) *

        You implied that one could get in trouble for blogging about politics.
        The Hatch act does prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain types of political activity, regardless of where they are. If this employee was classified as someone who may not engage in partisan political activity, then they may not campaign for or against a candidate in a partisan election, nor may they collect contributions for political fund raising functions.
    • by conureman (748753)
      Actually, the weather's pretty nice for a three month vacation, except his is unpaid. Maybe he can go to work full time on someone's political campaign, sort of keep a hand in. Maybe they'll just loan him a computer.
  • Ideally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:10AM (#23570935)
    Ideally, the State should be above Politics. However, its somewhat impossible to expect that the people who work within the State will not have political leanings and agenda.

    That said, whatever political activism people want to take part in should use their own time and their own equipment -- unless their job IS political activism. TFA doesn't say what this guy's job is, but I seriously doubt it"s "chief nasa suck-up to potential future presidents."

    If he's using NASA equipment, NASA time, and identifying himself as a NASA employee, then he's basically creating a situation in which causual observers might be forgiven for assuming that NASA is endorsing "candidate x"

    Quite frankly, it doesn't make sense for a department, which is often the subject of political punches, to want to be seen as interested - because if "their guy" lost, then the other guy will take it out on them.

    Sucks for this guy, but if you work at NASA you should be smart enough to know better.
  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:11AM (#23570947)
    People have been fired for not doing what they were supposed to do. People can get fired by solving crosswords all day and do nothing else.

    There often however is an unfair difference between surfing Playboy and reading the Playboy magazine during the office hours. One is easier to detect and prove then the other. It will be used often as an excuse to fire people, because prove is so much easier to get.

    At least In Belgium you need a valid reason before you fire somebody without having to pay weeks or months salary, so they will need this proof. People drinking coffee and having cigarette breaks all the time are much less likely to get fired on the spot.

    It has to be said that many companies in Belgium will do the firing of people in several steps. Vocal warning, 2 or thre written warnings, firing the person.
    • it's more or less the same in the UK. Though looking at playboy would probably get you fired on the spot.
  • My wife was a federal employee for 20 years. From what she has explained to me, you essentially give up some of your rights to take the job.

    one restriction that I remember is that she wasn't allowed to take part in protests. Workign in San Francisco, that must have been an every day opportunity she was missing out on!

    So I don't find it at all suprising that someone who is doing campaign activities got zapped.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      If someone pushed the issue I'm sure they could get that particular restriction removed as unconstitutional.
      • by Sancho (17056) *
        Allegedly, it's there to prevent someone from threatening your job unless you go campaign for so-and-so candidate. In reality, that's stupid, because they could just make such threats illegal.
    • by AMuse (121806)
      Steve: To clarify, federal employees (civil servants) are allowed to take part in civil protests. What they are NOT allowed to do is go on strike against the government.

      So, taking 8 hours of personal leave to go to SF and join a protest is cool -- going on strike and picketing your place of employment is not. (However you can still quit your job, then picket all you want.)
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:17AM (#23571021)
    I know the folks who maintain our work's various policies and get brought in when discussing the computer-related ones. Typically policies are in place so that when a person's behavior (in person or online) get out of hand, they can point to a policy and say "you need to change or you'll be let go".

    One specific to blogging appeared, with the usual wording about appropriate use of our company's name and so on (I think they wanted public affairs involved any time the name was mentioned in a blog). I came up with a list of obvious problems it raised, there was an outbreak of common sense, and all blogging language was removed.

    Personally I feel that policies shouldn't be specific to online behavior if at all possible. Instead it's best to remain neutral to the form of communication and shape policies around it. For example, if we have a policy against hate speech, I wouldn't want to see employees writing hate speech on their blogs while they're at work (we let employees get online during breaks as long as it doesn't interfere with their work). What they do with their own time at home, of course, should generally be their own business.
  • In college, I worked for the USDA as a student assistant. They take the Hatch Act very seriously, and I don't blame them. Why should my tax dollars pay a guy to politically work against things I'm against?
  • I generally dislike Hatch, but this is one of the few things he did right (assuming there are no other gotchyas in this act). Government employees are there to serve the people not to serve the interests of some politician. When they are at home they can do as they wish, but bureaucracy is messy enough without bringing the politics in.

    On the other hand, this person should be quite proud of his/her-self it takes some doing to get fired from a government job :P.

    • by prakslash (681585)
      You seem to be referring to Sen. Orrin Hatch.

      The Hatch Act has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch. It is named after Carl Hatch who helped enact it in 1939.

    • by Sancho (17056) *

      When they are at home they can do as they wish, but bureaucracy is messy enough without bringing the politics in.
      Oh, but they can't.

      http://www.osc.gov/ha_fed.htm [osc.gov]

      The Hatch Act prohibits some political activity, even on your own time, if you have certain jobs in federal agencies.

      It's asinine.
  • I blame the internet for this one too. Mars Climate Orbiter [wikipedia.org]
  • No Surprise Here (Score:4, Informative)

    by reallocate (142797) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:29AM (#23571163)
    No surprise here. First, taking time out off your job to do personal business -- blogging or anything else -- is a fine way to get in trouble with your employer. Just common sense. You'd get in trouble for taking an hour every day at 3 o'clock to go running.

    Second, the Hatch Act has, for decades, prohibited partisan political activity by federal employees. There's good reason, if only because those employees make decisions every day about how and where to spend taxpayer money.

    Third, the provisions of the Hatch Act are made clear to every federal employee when they accept the job.

    • by argent (18001)
      You'd get in trouble for taking an hour every day at 3 o'clock to go running.

      Depends on your job and what you're doing. Don't forget a lot of people here are geeks who get paid for 8-5 and may work until 7 or 9 or 11 many days, with no overtime. Taking an hour every day at 3:00 to go running might well be seen as a good sign - you're less likely to lose a programmer to a heart attack.
      • >>"Depends on your job and what you're doing. Don't forget a lot of people here are geeks who get paid for 8-5 and may work until 7 or 9 or 11 many days, with no overtime."

        True, but it all depends on the job and the nature of the contribution is expected to make.
  • I work in government (Score:3, Informative)

    by MistrBlank (1183469) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:30AM (#23571175)
    They give you enough notification when you start your job that you can not use work time to basically influence partisan political activities, particularly raising funds. There are a ton of restrictions for what you do while not on duty as well. But above all, as others have said, he used work time to perform non-work related activities, so the fact that it was Internet or even politically related is irrelevant.
    • Thank you, you win.

      I, too, work for .gov. I know about the Hatch Act. They train us on it every year or two. I know to keep my partisan stuff to myself while at work. I can be flamingly red or blue at home, but at work, a non-offensive shade of gray. You get a slap on the wrist for screwing around (reading /.) at work. You get in much deeper trouble for porn, warez, hate speech, working for somebody other than the People (side jobs) or partisan politics.

      He's only suspended, not fired, which makes me t
      • by Sancho (17056) *

        He's only suspended, not fired, which makes me think it's not a "looking for an excuse to fire him" thing.
        He was suspended for 6 months without pay. That's as good as a firing for most people, except that because it's not an official firing, he can't collect unemployment if he quits to find work elsewhere.
  • Okay, I get that he was misbehaving and has been punished.

    But how many times in recent past have we found that modifications on Wikipedia have been coming from the government and been overly partisan? And what happened to those employees? Nothing, as far as I can remember. What about all those e-mails sent through partisan servers from the White House because it was, well, partisan? How were these employees punished?

    The government (and other employers) should set a policy and stick to it. Many employees fin
  • Realistically the Hatch Act is often used by bosses who want to cut dead weight *or weight they don't like*. If your in good with the boss and your views mix with his, then happy blogging.

    I would have no issue with this, if the rules were applied evenly across everyone. The reality is that it isn't. Just like many other Acts and Rules it is simply applied as a tool by higher ups to get what they want.

    Should the guy have gotten busted, YES! He broke the rules. I don't disagree with that. Is the rules bei
  • But, on balance, I don't want my money funding political blogging and fund raising.

    I think that was a fair outcome.

    Wow, maybe we have some rational laws after all.
  • If you don't like the policy where you work, get a new friggin' job. In case you've forgotten, NASA is a government organization, so this does not seem like a far fetched "unfair" policy that it is characterized as being.

    Everyone's workplace has rules...

    begin rambling:

    People these days seem to have forgotten one of my main tenets of a successful capitalist economy: the workers' right to chose. It seems that people these days have completely forgotten about that because they're scared of getting bumped fr
  • Definitely a redundant sentiment, but I have to say it:

    In other news, employee is shocked by the revelation that disrobing and defecating on his boss' desk during business hours was "probably not a good career move."
  • Worst (Score:3, Informative)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:58AM (#23571621) Homepage Journal
    headline... evar. How about this instead: NASA Employee Suspended for Violating Hatch Act
  • There was one fellow, well known back then, who deliberately tried to get people he didn't agree with shut up by emailing the sites near the end of their posting path and asking "innocent" questions about whether the company had filed the cost of their Usenet connections as campaign contributions. Given that Usenet at this time was still pretty underground, often run by network admins on spare machines, this had the potential for causing a lot of fuss and of course completely blew the unwritten "Usenet stays on Usenet" rule out of the water. He was completely dumbfounded by the response he got and went on a years-long campaign against the evil Usenet cabal who were allegedly trying to shut HIM up. I don't know if he ever understood what the problem was.
  • by sjvn (11568)
    Once they caught him at this, this was as automatic as watching someone step up a building and then fall to the ground. You do not mess with the Hatch Act as a govt. employee period. Doing it at work? He was soooo history.

    Steven
  • The issue was federal employees campaigning, not blogging. Nevertheless, since it was a rank & file employee who no-one would ever know about, it was obviously a grudge.

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