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June 5, 2012 at 12:12 PM

UW employee spent hours web surfing, gets 916 hours of OT

A University of Washington fire alarm control supervisor made 5,211 visits to non-work-related websites during a 16-month period, a state auditor’s report has found.

According to the report, the employee made visits to sports, fantasy football, animal rescue, social networking and video websites, and a personal email account, during a 16-month period in 2010 and 2011. The employee made 30 visits a day to non-work-related sites on at least 50 separate dates, and 192 visits to non-work-related sites in a single day.

During an overlapping 13-month time period, the auditor’s office found that the employee was paid 916 hours of overtime, or about 3.3 hours of overtime a day.

But university officials say they do not believe the employee was racking up overtime while surfing the Web.

As part of an $8 million project to replace all the fire alarms on campus, the UW had asked the employee and a second supervisor to work up to 3 hours of overtime a day, for two years, to supervise the project. The two men made about $30,000 a year extra in overtime, said Charles Kennedy, associate vice president of facilities services. Their base salary is about $70,000.

Kennedy said paying overtime was cheaper than hiring an outside company to do the work.

Although the audit report concluded that web-surfing by the fire alarm supervisor was an improper governmental action, auditors did not find a reasonable cause to believe the overtime resulted in a gross waste of funds.

Kennedy said the employee told investigators he spent time looking at sports sites during his lunch breaks.

The report is being forwarded to the state’s Executive Ethics Board for further action. Both employees are still working at the university, and the UW is planning an education program to remind employees of the policies regarding Internet use, said spokesman Norm Arkans.

Comments | More in Education, General news | Topics: Overtime pay, University of Washington, Web surging

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