Video Games Removed From DPHHS Computers

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state Department of Public Health and Human Services has removed the games from the computers of more than 3,000 employees, after some employees complained that their new computers didn’t include the games.

“It sends a clear message that computers are not to be used for non-work activities,” department Director Joan Miles said in a newsletter.

The issue arose recently when the Child Support Enforcement Division received new computers, but without the games like solitaire, hearts and minesweeper that come with Microsoft software.

Some employees complained that the games weren’t on the new machines while other employees in the department had games, said Lonnie Olson, division administrator.

“I said if they want them, we’ll put them on,” Olson said, adding that he wanted to make sure all employees in the department are treated the same.

Olson said he wasn’t aware of anyone abusing the privilege during work hours, and he was under the impression that games were on all other state employees’ computers.

Randy Holm, chief of the Department of Administration’s Computing Technology Services Bureau, said it’s up to each department director to decide what to do about the computer games.

An inquiry by a Lee Newspapers reporter to Miles’ office resulted in DPHHS removing games from all the department’s computers. The software can be removed remotely.

In the department’s newsletter, Mary Angela Collins, administrator of its Technology Services Division, said after comparing departmental policy with state policy, it became clear the department needed to remove the games.

The state policy says, “State computing resources are not to be used for non-state related activities, including games or software that is not required for an employee’s job responsibilities.”

Sheryl Olson, deputy director of the Department of Administration, said the agency, which oversees the state’s mainframe computer, adopted this policy in 2001. It wants no software on computers except for that necessary for employees to do their jobs.

“To me, the broader policy is nobody should be playing games on state computers,” she said. “We’re at work to work. Why is this even a question? Who has time to play games?”