ABC7 WATCHDOG

Watchdog report: Virginia county workers online dating, playing games at work

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(WJLA) - Government workers in several Virginia counties may be spending a portion of their days watching videos, searching for jobs and playing games on work computers, an ABC7 Watchdog investigation revealed.

But there are even more surprises in the Watchdog report.

In Fairfax County, Northern Virginia's largest county, government workers are going online in big numbers to find love, racking up nearly 5,000 hits in one day on Match.com.

Some of the most popular sites for Fairfax County government workers on the job include Amazon.com, which has nearly 150,000 hits in a single day. Craigslist gets nearly 53,000 hits while eBay gets 46,000.

“Now I understand why it takes so long to get things done,” says Celeste Willford.

“That’s government work for ya,” says Chris Gerrick.

Alexandria County:

In Arlington, government workers like to play on the job. Games like Candy Crush rack up big numbers. The popular game had over 3,800 hits in a single day in August. On the same day in Arlington, Words with Friends had nearly 2,600 hits.

“It’s a waste of my tax dollars,” says Drew Banister.

Fantasy football and other sports sites are big with government workers in Northern Virginia. In just one day, workers in Arlington and Loudoun counties visited sports sites more than 1,300 times. Fairfax County scored the highest with over 112,000 hits in one single day.

“I wish I had a job where I could get paid to surf the net,” says Dan Honig.

Shopping at work is big, too.

ABC7 has uncovered nearly 6,000 hits on shopping sites in Loudoun County. In Arlington, there were about 60,000 hits. Shopping sites had about 143,000 hits in Alexandria County, and Fairfax County had over 276,000 hits.

“I think that’s way too much internet,” says Cherri Barksdale. “I think they could be doing more productive things.”

However, some taxpayers don’t mind.

“A little break time to do something in between all the reports you’re looking at is not a bad thing, you know?” says Carl Dodson.

And as a government worker himself, Sylvester Plater argues none of this keeps employees from getting the job done.

“People know their responsibilities at work and do what they need to do,” he says.

None of the counties would comment, but Arlington’s county manager told ABC7 in a written statement: “Personal web surfing is not only inevitable, but it is a net positive to the employer. It’s all about productivity. We treat our employees as adults; if someone exhibits a performance issue, we manage that performance issue.”

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