Irritated that Congress did nothing about employees charging taxpayers for personal expenses, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren went on a warpath Friday.
To provide some background to what got Van Susteren so steamed, the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general found some disturbing trends among purchases employees made on federal credit cards.
More than half the EPA employees’ charges were for personal expenses, including gifts, gym memberships and expensive dinners.
The March 4 report showed that of the $152,600 in charges reviewed, $79,300 in expenses were “prohibited, improper and erroneous.” Virtually no media reported on the findings until Tuesday, when The Fiscal Times came out with its coverage.
The report’s study of $152,000 in employee charges comprised just a tiny fraction of the $29 million of EPA employee government credit card purchases in fiscal year 2012. And that’s just one agency in a huge federal labyrinth.
“This indicates an ongoing risk,” the report said. “Improved purchase-card oversight could save the government money, which would be especially helpful in the EPA’s current budget environment.”
The Fiscal Times reported:
The auditor said that the government issues employees charge cards to bypass the complicated procurement process for small purchases. The card program was created over 30 years ago to “streamline the federal acquisition processes by providing a low-cost, efficient vehicle for obtaining goods and services directly from vendors,” the IG report said. Yet a spate of inspector general reports have highlighted routine abuse within the purchase card program for years.
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This is nothing new. Last year, employees at a federal agency few people had ever heard of — the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service — purchased such luxury items as home theater systems and, in one case, leased a $53,000 BMW, according to the Washington Examiner.
This is called embezzlement in the real world, where profit and loss are carefully monitored and corporate survival means every penny is accounted for.
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