March sadness: Public employees streaming hoops on the job

GAME TIME: State information technology officials say it’s not uncommon for government bandwidth traffic to spike during specific games in the NCAA basketball tournament.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — On Sunday afternoon, if you listened closely, you could almost hear the moans of anguish across the Sunflower State.

For Kansas hoops fans, March Madness came to a screeching halt with losses by the University of Kansas and Wichita State University. Kansas State University lost in the first round. It was a dramatic gut-shot for those in the Sunflower State who had eagerly followed the NCAA tournament progress since early last week.

Keeping on top of the hardwood ups and downs has become easier than ever in recent years, whether you’re warming a seat on your living room couch or sneaking a peek at the action when the boss isn’t looking. While productivity losses in the private sector are crowed from coast to coast, government workers get their fair share of action, too.

Anthony Schlinsog, chief information officer for the Kansas executive branch, said it’s not uncommon for workers to strain networks and spike bandwidth usage during March.

“I know in times past we’ve seen that,” Schlinsog told Kansas Watchdog.

He declined to name specific agencies, but said game day policies and whether online streaming of tournament match-ups is permitted vary between departments.

“With that, you can expect to see those agencies that may not be blocking this kind of streaming content would expect to see a higher utilization of their bandwidth during that time,” he noted.

While state networks see an immense amount of traffic every day, Schlinsog noted that most spikes happen during certain games at certain times.

If you still feel down about Kansas’ untimely departure from the Big Dance, there’s a silver lining: Losses by the state’s three tournament teams have avoided a scenario where legislators could be tempted to split time between their public duties and personal passions.

Jim Miller, chief legislative IT officer, said he has yet to see a session where lawmakers are juggling budget bills and multiple amendments while their alma maters compete on the court. Managing the network during such a collision of events would be very telling, he noted.

“Luckily, or not-so-luckily for KU fans, we have avoided that scenario for yet another year,” Miller told Kansas Watchdog.

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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