State employees dinged for email, Internet use

Staff writerMay 29, 2014 

State auditors have discovered what they say is improper use of state resources by two Pierce College employees and one at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Whistleblowers reported the employees to State Auditor Troy Kelley's office.

Investigators found a transportation engineer used the signature section at the end of his e-mails to promote a book he wrote.

His official signatures included a graphic and link to an online bookseller for two years until a supervisor told him to remove them, auditors said in a report earlier this month.

The engineer also wrote some emails promoting his book and checked on its sales, investigators found.

He told auditors WSDOT is using a model described in the book, so collecting feedback on the book benefits the agency.

At Pierce College, auditors took issue with 96 e-mails an administrative assistant sent from her college account over 13 months.

The emails were related to two groups, a parent-teacher association and another association dealing with home septic systems.

The assistant told the board she isn't paid by either organization and didn't receive any personal gain from the activity, according to the audit released Thursday.

The same audit found what investigators saw as improper activity by a different administrative assistant at the college.

Auditors said she spent 517 minutes over four weeks browsing the Web for personal use, an average of a bit less than 26 minutes per weekday. They said she made purchases at some of the websites.

The assistant said she browsed the Web as a way to relieve stress.

State rules say employees should make only infrequent or occasional use of state resources such as email and phones.

 

 

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