Games Removed From State Computers

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered all games removed from computers in departments under his jurisdiction.

Bruce Nelson, Schweitzer’s chief of staff, told department directors at a recent cabinet meeting that Schweitzer wanted any computer games such as solitaire removed from state employees’ computers, said spokeswoman Sarah Elliott.

“It’s not what you’re there to do,” Elliott told the Lee Newspapers of Montana in Tuesday’s editions. “You’re there to work. State employees are there to do their jobs and most of them do their jobs very well.”

Schweitzer’s order follows a March 31 Lee story about conflicting state government policies regarding games on state employees’ computers. Games such as solitaire, hearts and minesweeper are included with Microsoft Windows software.

Although it’s against policy for state employees to play games on their computers, state policy left it to each department to decide whether to keep the games on the computers.

The issue arose last month at the Child Support Enforcement Division, part of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, when employees received new computers without the games. Some employees complained that co-workers still had the games.

Division Administrator Lonnie Olson said he didn’t want division employees treated differently and ordered the games reinstalled. He said he wasn’t aware of anyone abusing the privilege of playing games during work hours.

A reporter’s inquiry to DPHHS Director Joan Miles’ office led her to order games removed from any of the department’s 3,000 computers that had games on them.

Schweitzer’s order affects executive branch departments. Other statewide elected officials oversee their own agencies. After a reporter’s inquiry, Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch also ordered the games to be removed from computers at the Office of Public Instruction.

The legislative and judicial branches are independent branches of government not under the governor’s jurisdiction. The Montana University System is governed by the Board of Regents, appointed by the governor.

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