'Limited personal use is OK'

Federal employees are working so hard these days that there is no reason to keep them from surfing the Web to look up a baseball score, according to Jim Flyzik, the Treasury Department's chief information officer.

"Let's be in the real world," Flyzik told a session of the Information Processing Interagency Conference Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

While some government agencies have tried to crack down on personal use of computers at work, Flyzik said it's an impossible task and one that government should not even try to police.

Flyzik—who, in addition to being the Treasury CIO, is also the deputy assistant secretary for information systems and the vice chairman of the federal CIO Council—said some Web surfing should be off limits, including searching for pornography sites. But for the most part, he said, government workers are simply taking a break and then returning to their jobs. And it does not cost the taxpayers a dime.

"Limited personal use is OK," Flyzik said. "If you play for 15 minutes at the office and work for 30 minutes at home, the government gains.... I work in the office, at home, on airplanes.... I work wherever I am. That's the world we're in."

Flyzik is writing an article for the Treasury inspector general about personal use of the Web at work. He said it would be included in the IG's annual report released in May.

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