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The employee also said that friends sent him the pornographic files, that he never planned on viewing them and that he never got around to deleting the files, a claim one official later called “simply not believable.”

Suspended for 10 days, the employee unsuccessfully appealed the decision after arguing that it was too harsh. Other employees were terminated.

Another employee who stored nude images of herself on her computer told investigators she mistakenly had downloaded the pictures. She received counseling and was told to adhere to the foundation’s policies on computer use.

The foundation is hardly the only government agency to be embarrassed by disclosures about employees looking at pornography at work.

The inspector general for the Securities and Exchange Commission noted in a report last fall that it had recently conducted three investigations into employees who misused government computers to view pornography.

At the time of the report, one employee had been fired and another suspended, while disciplinary action against a third was pending.