Ministry staff caught breaching computer policies

19:43, Mar 12 2014

Public sector workers have been misappropriating money and viewing "inappropriate content" while at work.

Some of the worst offenders were staff at the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which dismissed four people for breaching computer and social media policies in the year to November.

One staffer was fired for using the computer system to "misappropriate" $1957.86. Three others in the ministry were dismissed for accessing information without a work purpose, documents released under the Official Information Act show.

The Department of Corrections - which has previously caught staff surfing porn sites and inappropriately viewing prisoners' details - had 20 breaches over the 12 months, including seven who were cautioned for viewing "inappropriate content".

Another resigned for the same offence, and one was given a formal warning.

Corrections did not respond to numerous requests - dating as far back as December - asking whether the "inappropriate content" was pornography.


Corporate services general manager Vince Arbuckle said that, as well as sexually explicit material, "inappropriate" material also included racist, offensive, or abusive material; copyright breaches; and "pejorative, knowingly inaccurate, unsubstantiated, discriminatory or defamatory" comments.

It did not refer only to websites. "This content is captured via the [specialised] software and includes inappropriate images viewed in emails, attachments, videos and websites."

None of the cases involved illegal behaviour, he said.

The Ministry of Social Development had two cases of misuse of email or internet. One resulted in a verbal warning, the other in a letter of caution. Neither involved the viewing of inappropriate websites.

The Department of Internal Affairs had two breaches, for which employees got formal warnings in each case.

The Ministry of Justice had three breaches, none of which were for viewing inappropriate websites. One staff member was "appropriately disciplined" but not fired, another resigned as part of the investigation, and a third was being disciplined.

MBIE refused to comment on its cases, citing "privacy of the individuals involved".

People and capability general manager Dave Conning issued a written statement saying the number of breaches was low, and the incidents had been acted on.

"MBIE has robust systems and processes in place to monitor computer use and all staff are informed about appropriate computer use. The ministry has taken strong action in response to these incidents".
It had four other breaches that did not result in dismissal, including the release of documents without authority, by a staff member who could not be identified.

The ministries of health and education had no reported breaches.


The Dominion Post