The Dog-Ate-My-Homework-Defense!

Monday - 10/5/2009, 4:00am EDT

A few years back, security cameras in the parking garage of a suburban Washington federal agency caught a high-ranking worker and his female subordinate in a compromising position in his car.

When confronted with tale of the tape, his alibi, according to coworkers, was that the woman was helping him check to see if his brake lights were working. Apparently they were.

Earlier this week The Washington Times, front page, above the fold, reported on a National Science Foundation executive who was caught looking at porn - a lot - on his government computer at work.

The Washington Time's new angle was that because of the IG's earlier report, it's is now swamped with complaints from other NSF staffers about colleagues who are surfing for porn on the net. The Times said some things the IG would normally be investigating have had to take a back seat.

Naturally the media had a field day with it. And it was reportedly widely by the mainstream press and TV though it had been around before, in both a scientific publication and respected tabloid for political junkies. It was also the subject of a congressional inquiry on what some naughty feds do on government time.

The good news for those of who don't work for the government is that stuff like this (about private companies, or within the media itself) doesn't often make the news (the exception, maybe, being the Page Six column of the New York Post. It takes no prisoners!). Funny, naughty and bad things happen a lot, but often you don't hear about it unless it happens to a government worker, or Hollywood starlet or stud muffin.

Many times when trapped, the offender will come up with the most elaborate excuse: Like being brain-washed by space aliens. Or is on a secret mission for the CIA. Or the always good, honey-I-did-it-for-you-and-the-kids plea!

The alibi doesn't have to make sense. It's the Charge of the Light Brigade in Reverse. This is an adult version of the old dog-ate-my-homework defense many of us used as kids.

(Disclosure: My dog once really ate my homework. Seriously. Also, the tell-all book I plan to write and have published - after I retire and the plastic surgery scars have healed and my desert island retreat is secure - will tell all about the rest of us. What crazy things go on in corporate America and the media.)

Feds don't have a monopoly on doing goofy or dangerous stuff. But for now, we've got to go with the pack.

So, what's the person in the next cubicle in your agency doing right now? What's the best or worst alibi you've heard about someone in your current or former agency (or private sector job)? Think of the funniest, silliest, most serious or shameless effort to deflect criticism or divert the blame.

If you've got a good example - funny, serious, serious or pathetic - we'd love to hear about it. This could make a good, occasional feature here when things are slow, when Congress is treading water or when we could simply use a good laugh.

Ask your friends, check your memory bank and drop us a line. All entries will (as always) be confidential. Ship them to me at: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

FEHBP Off Life Support

Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) modified his everybody-out-of-the-FEHBP amendment. His new compromise would move members of Congress from the FEHBP but leave postal and federal workers and retirees alone. They could move out of the FEHBP if they wanted, or remain where they are. But congressional sources insist that Grassley is dead serious about the plan, and that it isn't a bluff.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

MentalFloss notes in The Quick 9: Nine Capitals of the United States that Princeton, New Jersey hosted the Congress of the Confederation from July through October 1783.

"The reason why Congress adjourned to Princeton is pretty interesting: they were mobbed at Independence Hall by a bunch of soldiers demanding payment for the Revolutionary War. Instead of paying them, Congress elected to move from town to town for the next few years."

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com