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Science Foundation trouble -


ARLINGTON, Va. â A watchdog responsible for stopping fraud involving 
taxpayer-funded science grants said it has been forced to divert its attention 
to government employee misconduct, much of it involving pornography.

The National Science Foundation's inspector general told Congress in a recent 
budget request that a sharp increase in employee misconduct investigations had 
forced it to cut back its investigations of grant fraud.

According to records obtained by The Washington Times through a Freedom of 
Information Act request, the inspector general closed 10 employee misconduct 
investigations last year, up from three in 2006. Of the 10 cases, seven 
involved employees watching porn online.

One senior executive spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his 
government computer and chatting online with nude or partially clad women, 
according to the records. The official retired when caught. Among other 
explanations, he said he frequented the sites to help provide a living to the 
"young women" from "poor countries." Investigators estimated that the 
official's porn surfing cost taxpayers $13,800 to $58,000.

The NSF, an independent foundation funded by taxpayers, hands out scientific 
grants to colleges, universities and research institutions. It has 1,200 

A spokeswoman for the foundation, Dana Topousis, says that since the 
investigations it has tightened controls on computers to block inappropriate 
Internet addresses. Topousis said that employees who were investigated were 
"disciplined in one way or another" but that she could not comment on 
individual disciplinary actions.

At least one employee received a 10-day suspension and paid an unspecified 
amount after investigators found that during a 3-week period he looked at 
hundreds of pornographic Web sites during work. Some employees were fired.