Porn provision stalls House IT bill

House rebels against reauthorization of technology booster bill

A move to punish federal employees who access pornography at work has helped derail a bill that would increase funding for technology, innovation and science education.

Democratic sponsors of the America Competes Reauthorization Act pulled the bill from the House Floor May 13 after the House approved a Republican motion to recommit. Passage of the recommit motion sent the bill back to House committees with requirements to make specific changes, including adding a provision that no federal funding could be used to pay the salaries of federal employees disciplined for accessing pornography from government computers. The motion also directs lawmakers to reduce funds for Energy Department research and other programs.

The legislation, which would reauthorize for five years the America Competes Act of 2007, would increase funding for science, technology, engineering and math education, along with research and development programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation and Energy’s Office of Science.

Rep. Bart Gordon ( D-Tenn.), chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, said, “I’m disappointed that politics trumped good policy We’re all opposed to federal employees watching pornography. That is not a question; but that’s not what this was about. The motion to recommit was about gutting funding for our science agencies.”

Gordon said he hopes the bill can be brought to the House floor again, but timing is “unclear.”

Democrats accused Republicans of playing politics with the bill, while Republicans defended the motion and pointed to evidence, including reports from National Science Foundation's Office of Inspector General, indicating that several NSF employees were disciplined for watching porn at work.

The NSF’s Inspector General, in a semiannual report to Congress in 2008, noted at least seven cases in which NSF employees were penalized for accessing pornography on government computers.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Mon, Aug 9, 2010 Vern San Diego

Why is it "bad politics" to deny funding for a paycheck to anyone using TAXPAYER'S time and TAXPAYER'S equipment to sit around and watch porn? As a contractor we all know there's ZERO TOLERANCE for this activity. Get caught just ONCE and the company will remove YOUR funding immediately. Sounds to me like that's what was being attempted and in typical liberal fashion they either a) don't care about the waste of OUR time and money or b) are fighting for government workers' rights to view pornography on the job. As usual, protect the guilty and screw the innocent. Gosh, I'd like them to de-fund anyone and everyone in the government that doesn't do their job---period. But then that would clean out about 80% of government workers. Will Rogers called politicians "the hired help". I figure, by extension and since I'M funding their paychecks, that includes all government workers. How many of you would hire and/or continue to pay someone you caught watching porn while you were paying them to do a job? And as for the "7 employees out of how many?" comment???? well at least SEVEN employees should be add to the unemployed ranks---immediately!!! If you want to watch porn that's your business---AT HOME, ON YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT AND YOUR OWN TIME!!!!

Tue, May 18, 2010

Hmmm, NSF, Internet 2, National Lambda Rail, ... really nice high speed networks to stream a lot of porn to keep scientists entertained while experiments are churning away on connected supercomputers.

Mon, May 17, 2010 Norman

This is about bad politics. You want to legislate about porn, go ahead. But don't tie funding of the sciences to it. Stupid Republicans (why I hate my party sometimes).

Mon, May 17, 2010

All those porn watchers are just pushing the global warming scam anyways.

Mon, May 17, 2010

Come on folks. Everyone knows that all of those lazy people at the Dept of Energy do nothing but watch porn all day. All of their money should be cut. Except the money meant for my state, my favorite college, my company.

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group