Friday, April 11, 2008

The party of fiscal responsibility

With the emphasis on “party,” not “fiscal responsibility.”
Federal employees charged millions of dollars for Internet dating, tailor-made suits, lingerie, lavish dinners and other questionable expenses to their government credit cards over a 15-month period, congressional auditors say.

A report by the Government Accountability Office, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, examined spending controls across the federal government following reports of credit-card abuse at departments including Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

The review of card spending at more than a dozen departments from 2005 to 2006 found that nearly 41 percent of roughly $14 billion in credit-card purchases, whether legitimate or questionable, did not follow procedure — either because they were not properly authorized or they had not been signed for by an independent third party as called for in federal rules to deter fraud.

For purchases over $2,500, nearly half — or 48 percent — were unauthorized or improperly received.

Out of a sample of purchases totaling $2.7 million, the government could not account for hundreds of laptop computers, iPods and digital cameras worth more than $1.8 million. In one case, the U.S. Army could not say what happened to computer items making up 16 server configurations, each of which cost nearly $100,000.

Agencies often could not provide the required paperwork to justify questionable purchases. Investigators also found that federal employees sometimes double-billed or improperly expensed lavish meals and Internet dating for many months without question from supervisors; the charges were often noticed only after auditors or whistle-blowers raised questions.


In response, both OMB and GSA agreed with portions of the report. But GSA administrator Lurita Doan noted the vast majority of federal employees use their cards properly and that many oversight measures already are in place.
You remember Lurita Doan, right? She’s the incompetent, partisan crony Bush appointee who attended a videoconference meeting with J. Scott Jennings, the White House deputy director of political affairs, and asked, “How can we help our candidates?” in violation of the Hatch Act. She also tried to deliver a no-bid contract worth $20,000 to a personal friend. Watch her pathetic attempts to defend her conduct here.

Leadership sets the tone, and the tone the Bush administration has set is “The rules don’t apply to us.” This, friends, is a culture of corruption in action.

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