Pentagon officials didn’t discipline personnel, review security clearances or change policies after learning employees spent $1 million using government travel cards at casinos and strip clubs, according to a report from the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Inspector General (IG).
That lackluster response to the IG’s May 2015 report revealing the million-dollar spending spree jeopardized national security and left the DOD travel card program open to further abuse, the IG said.
“The Inspector General’s report makes clear that the Department of Defense has failed to take serious action to curb egregious abuse of government travel cards and hold those responsible accountable,” U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It’s long past time for DOD leadership to impose stricter oversight of this program to identify improper transactions immediately, take necessary disciplinary action, and ensure no taxpayer dollars are wasted,” McCain continued.
McCain’s committee asked the IG to follow-up on its original report, which found DOD employees from July, 2013, to June, 2014, used government travel cards to make 4,437 transactions worth $952,258 at casinos and 900 transactions worth $96,576 at “adult entertainment establishments.” (RELATED: DOJ Let These Accused Feds Go Free)
The IG’s latest audit, sampling 30 DOD cardholders who frequented a casino or strip club, revealed the following:
- DOD management took no steps to eliminate further travel card abuse, such as revoke card privileges for people who misused them.
- DOD commanders only reported two of the 30 cardholders to the Consolidated Adjudications Facility for a security clearance review, as DOD policy requires when personnel behave inappropriately.
- DOD management didn’t review travel vouchers to determine if cardholders received improper overpayments. The IG found 22 of the sampled cardholders requested and received overpayments totaling $8,544.
The IG attributed those failures to DOD officials not emphasizing “proper” travel card use, and to unclear DOD policy on how supervisors should address travel card misuse.
“As a result, the travel card program remained vulnerable to continued misuse; DOD had less money available for legitimate travel expenses because of the travel overpayments; DOD experienced potential national security vulnerabilities,” and “cardholders were not offered assistance or potential financial concerns and gambling additions,” the report said.
The IG told DOD to make sure supervisors report travel card misuse and any disciplinary outcomes, and regularly review cardholders’ transactions to identify misuse or fraud.
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