April 11, 2008
Federal employees used government credit cards to pay for lingerie, gambling iPods, internet dating services and a $13,000 steak and liquor dinner, according to a new audit by the government accountability office, which found widespread abuses in a purchasing program meant to improve bureaucratic efficiency.
A program to improve bureaucratic efficiency resulted in bureaucratic inefficiency and alleged lawbreaking.
The GAO study found that nearly half the purchase card transactions it examined were improper, either because they were not authorized correctly or because they did not meet requirements for the cards’ use. The audit found the overall rate of problems – and I love this quote – were “unacceptably high.”
The GAO found the agencies could not account for nearly $2 million worth of items identified in the audit, including laptop computers, digital cameras, and at the army, more than a dozen computer servers valued at $100,000 each. People responsible for these outrages should be fired and then sued to recover the money. But given bureaucratic inefficiency, I wouldn’t count on it.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.