The US military always seems to be under fire over something. But now an investigation first launched last spring has shown that the Department of Defense (DoD)may have had a little too much fun at your expense.
The US Inspector General’s Office has been delving deeper into the misuse of government credit cards by DoD employees while at casinos and strip clubs.
This comes following a report published last May after a DoD internal audit revealed that both civilian and military personnel had spent $952,258 gambling and another $96,576 at “adult entertainment establishments” during the course of a year.
What the report didn’t reveal, though, was how many of the 5,000 illicit transactions recorded by the audit were actually paid for by US taxpayers. Users of government-issued credit cards are required to pay the bills for the cards themselves, and then make expense submissions for a portion of the bill.
Many employees, of course, would have preferred to use official work cards rather than personal ones in order to hide the transactions from their spouses or significant others, and possibly paid them according to protocol.
Others, however, may have attempted to submit the transactions as official expenses, meaning your tax dollars could have been put towards their reimbursement.
The initial audit was a broad review of credit card transactions, as opposed to the behavior of individuals, so no jobs were on the line. Instead, it was likely that certain departments, where such behavior was most prevalent, received a stern telling off.
However it has been estimated that forbidden credit card transactions cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to a separate report by the Government Accountability Office. The report said that the “abuse of government issued credit cards has been a growing challenge in recent years.”
But a memorandum released on Wednesday by the Inspector General’s office revealed that the Senate Armed Services Committee has requested a more thorough investigation, so that it can determine just who has abused the cards and whether disciplinary action should follow.
“Our objective is to determine whether (Defense Department) cardholders who used government travel cards at casinos and adult entertainment establishments for personal use sought or received reimbursement for the charges,” the memo said. “We will determine whether disciplinary actions have been taken in cases of person use or if the misuse was reported to the appropriate security office.”
The new probe will look into paperwork at the Defense Travel Management Office in Virginia, hoping to find irregularities in expense records. A previous report by the Inspector General’s Office into the DoD audit found several inadequacies in the expense-claiming protocol.
There is no specific mechanism for identifying and flagging charges at casinos and adult entertainment establishments, the report said, nor did the DoD have a policy that required the system to flag “high-risk merchants” that might suggest the cards were being abused.
The new audit is likely to take several months to complete and will not be published until sometime next year. During which time at least some DoD employees are likely to be quaking in their army-issued boots.