(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.
In a review of records spanning one day in several counties, the data uncovered how often employees were visiting job sites, YouTube, Craigslist and other sites.
Viral videos on the job
One of the most popular sites among government employees is YouTube.
For example, on just one day - Aug. 19 - Arlington employees registered about 3,800 visits on the video sharing site.
Loudoun County had more than 10,700 YouTube visits on the same day, and in Alexandria, the data uncovered 14,000 hits.
The biggest offender on this specific day were employees in Fairfax County, who logged more than 96,000 visits on YouTube on Aug. 19.
Looking for another job...on the job
Job searching was also top of mind on this day. According to the data, county computers in Fairfax County logged more than 10,000 visits to powerjobs.com, while monster.com received about 9,800 hits.
Powerjobs.com is owned and operated by Allbritton Communications, the parent company of ABC7 and NewsChannel 8.
On the hunt for goods, or tickets, or anything else?
Meanwhile, Craigslist, the enormous, worldwide classified ad website, was also popular among Fairfax County employees on Aug. 19.
On that day, the data indicates that Craigslist received 53,000 visits from county-owned computers.
And If watching videos, looking for jobs, and perusing Craigslist wasn't enough, county employees are also looking for new pads as well.
Searching for a new place to rest your head
In Fairfax County, the data indicated that on the single day, more than 11,600 visits to Zillow.com were recorded.
Meanwhile, in Alexandria, longandfoster.com was visited 2,200 times.
A spin on Facebook
Of course, the most popular social network on the Internet couldn't be left out.
In one day, Loudoun County employees logged 8,000 visits to Facebook, while down the road in Fairfax, workers went to the site 41,000 times.
On the same day, Alexandria workers checked the social network 42,000 times and 56,000 more in Arlington checked in as well.
Vacation planning & Shopping
In Alexandria and Arlington, workers hit travelzoo.com nearly 170,000 times in one day. In Loudoun, it was Disneyworld.com, with 227,000 hits.
Also in Loudoun, there were more than 2,100 hits on VirginiaGunTrader.com
And popular throughout the region were shopping websites. With all four counties combined, there were nearly 350,000 hits to shopping sites.
And nothing says a hard day at the office like playing CandyCrush.com.
“It’s a waste of my tax dollars,” says Fairfax County resident Drew Banister.
On a single day in August, Arlington County employees registered more than 3,800 hits on Candy Crush.
That same day in Arlington, there were almost 2,600 hits on “Words with Friends.”
In total, more than 13,000 hits on gaming sites – something we didn’t see in any other county in northern Virginia.
Fantasy football and others sports sites are popular too. In one day, workers in Arlington and Loudoun hit them more than 1,300 times. In Alexandria, about 4,500. Scoring the highest was Fairfax with more than 100,000 hits in a single day.
"I wish I had a job where I could get paid to surf the internet,” says Arlington resident Dan Honig.
Looking for love
And in addition to all the shopping and planning Disney vacations and playing Candy Crush, one thing that really surprised us is something we only found here in Fairfax County: government workers looking for love.
There were nearly 5,000 hits in a day on Match.com in Fairfax.
But workers and residents alike say the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
“I like to see freedom for people too, right. I mean you need a little break sometimes,” says Fairfax resident Carl Dodson.
Sylvester Plater has workedfor Fairfax County for more than 20 years, and he says, “people know their responsibilities at work and do what they need to do.”
"A net positive to the employer"
In defense of her county's employees, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donellan cited a University of Maryland study that concluded that personal web surfing at work is a net positive to the employer.
"It's all about productivity," Donellan said. "We treat our employees as adults. If someone exhibits a performance issue, we manage that issue.
"In these modern times and our 24/7 workforce environment, personal time and work time blend together."
Donellan said that it’s important to note that in the data provided by Arlington County, the majority of sites visited were to company email and Intranet sites.
"I am aware that some staff play some popular games, (but) is this any different than allowing staff to take a few minutes to fill out a newspaper crossword puzzle?"