Experts say govt. officials must limit cyber-slacking

While many private-sector businesses block Facebook and other online time-wasters, experts say government officials also need to crack down on public employees bumming around on social networking sites.

“If there’s so little work that they can spend hours and hours surfing sites and doing something other than their work, then maybe they’ve got too many people in that agency,” said Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste. She added that there should be “designated rules” for permissible use.

Several major private companies, including State Street Bank and Fidelity Investments, as well as school systems throughout the Bay State, block sites such as Facebook to prevent cyber-slacking. Earlier this month, New England Baptist Hospital became the latest to ban Facebook.

Jack Fellers, regional vice president at Robert Half International, a worldwide professional staffing and consulting firm, said employers — including the government — need to set a “clear, concise policy of what they will allow and won’t allow.”

Fellers’ firm recently surveyed more than 1,400 corporate executives nationwide and found that 54 percent ban Facebook and similar sites at work. A recent British survey, meanwhile, found that employees’ Twitter and Facebook habits cost businesses roughly $2.3 billion a year in lost productivity.