Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees used federal charge cards to buy gym memberships, gift cards, hotel space and items at dance halls and music venues, according to an inspector general report released Wednesday.
“The EPA did not provide effective oversight to ensure that purchase card holders and approving officials comply with internal control procedures,” according to the report, entitled “Ineffective Oversight of Purchase Cards Results in Inappropriate Purchases at EPA.” Seventy-five of 80 reviewed transactions were not in compliance with EPA policies.
“Of $152,602 in transactions we sampled, we found cards and is considering $79,254 of prohibited, improper and erroneous purchases. Some of the more egregious purchases we identified were meals for an awards recognition ceremony and gym memberships for EPA employees and their families,” according to the report. “Although the Office of Administration and Resources Management’s Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act 2012 assurance letter stated that the agency would take corrective actions to correct any identified vulnerabilities, it allowed offices to skip a recent biennial review and did not require follow-up.
“Gift cards were a problem in seven transactions. In one example, 20 American Express gift cards were purchased for $1,588 to provide on-the-spot awards. There was no third-party verification that any awardees received the gift cards,” the report stated.
“We recommend that the EPA implement regular transaction reviews to determine if the cardholders and approving officials are complying with EPA guidance. The EPA should provide additional training to the purchase card holders and approving officials to address issues identified in this report and institute follow-up actions for the prohibited, improper or erroneous purchases identified in this audit,” the report advised.