Politics

Government Employees Spent Almost $1 Million in Taxpayer Money at Casinos

gambling-casinofrom – The Daily Signal – by Christopher Oleska

The federal government is no stranger to waste—some examples are egregious. From July 2013 through June 2014, over 4,000 transactions, worth just short of $1 million, were conducted at casinos using the Department of Defense’s government travel cards.

Furthermore, nine hundred transactions, totaling $96,576, were made at “adult entertainment establishments.” As of May, 2015, only 41 percent of such actions went punished, with possible punishments including a “letter of reprimand.”

Originally adopted in 1998, the Travel and Transportation Reform Act sought to simplify the process of paying for the travel of federal employees by mandating usage of travel cards. These credit cards, managed by individual government agencies, have repeatedly proven to be a primary source of bureaucratic fraud against the American taxpayer.

Five short years after travel card implementation, reports of widespread misuse began to surface. Examples include unauthorized first-class trips to Hawaii funded by the Department of State and tens of thousands of dollars in “training” at golf and tennis resorts using funds meant to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.

According to the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit and non-partisan organization intent on exposing government misconduct, over $600,000 in funding allocated to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts was “considered unauthorized, lost, or stolen” through the abuse of government purchase cards.

Furthermore, the Internal Revenue Service has also reported instances of their government-issued credit cards being used to purchase everything from diet pills to alcohol and pornography.

Congress attempted to reform the clearly broken system in 2012, with the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, but this did little to actually quell such abuses. This legislation attempted to integrate control measures such as preventing double-reimbursement, requiring semi-annual reports and annual audits, and instituting outlined penalties for violating parties.

Unfortunately, it proved ineffective. The act’s policies did not implement systems capable of catching all (or even a majority of) fraud and were oftentimes poorly enforced.

These failures became apparent almost immediately after the act’s implementation. A recent report by the Department of Defense painted a fuller picture of particularly egregious abuse.

A second attempt at reform is currently underway.

In December, the Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support mandating the establishment of an Office of Federal Charge Card Analytics and Review. Intent on providing both analytical tools and human-driven oversight, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has called the bill “commonsense legislation.”

This abuse also raises the larger question of overall fiscal responsibility. With our nation’s debt at an all-time high, repeated abuse of taxpayer dollars demonstrates that agency budgets are not as lean as they could (and should) be.

Congress should not shy away from enforcing the discretionary cap reductions imposed by sequestration to reduce federal agency budgets. One blunt tool to encourage better internal controls by agencies of their travel cards is to increase the motivation of bureaucrats to better monitor how dollars are spent by tightening their budgets.

Taxpayers who’ve had to tighten their belts deserve no less from their government.

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Ken
5 years ago

it’s AJAINST “THE LAW”, throw their A__ in Jail for 15 Years!!!!!!!!!!

Bob
5 years ago

KISS – take the cards away….

Paul J.
5 years ago

Has Amac presented this kind of information/accusations to appropriate congressmen? Most members reading this kindof abuse will probably just fuss and fume. A credible organization such as Amac needs to get the data and facts to the right lawmakers to motivate further investigation.

Faye Murphy
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul J.

What good will this do? Our politicians do nothing now, so what makes you think they will reprimand these people?

Steve
5 years ago

This is mindboggling in two ways:
1. Government agencies don’t have proper controls already in place. Any real enterprise of any size would have internal procedures and controls as a matter of course including a robust audit process and summary discharge for flagrant violations.
2. Congress is getting involved at a detail level. They’re trying to legislate a travel credit card process rather than fire or indict the people at the top of these agencies with obvious malfeasance present. (And they could start with Obama!)

Ron
5 years ago

This is easy to control. Deduct the charges from their pay and then fire them when all money is collected. If you can’t trust them with simple issue as this what else are they doing to undermine the job they are paid to perform.
Being responsible and trust in all matters, where have they gone?
We all know right from wrong – so our choices make us what we become.
I have always been at peace with my actions and always sleep well knowing I have not done anyone including my Lord wrong.
Signed
From the old school of hard knocks.

Roy Hubbard
5 years ago

The heart of our problems is social decay. Period. An absence of God in our society has led to the growth of violence in our community and in our schools.
I am a once a year church goer but I remember as a child I had a built in understanding of God. I could pull the wool over my parents and my teachers eyes but God was right there with a stern look.
All the “non-believers” should just keep to themselves and stop trying to change everyone else.
I would add though that I personally believe that the evangelical vote may very well have been the force that kept Mitt Romney out of the Presidency. WE got O’Bama instead. That ought to stir up some pointed replys!

PF
5 years ago

I would like to know why AMAC is merely reporting on this and not leading a movement (on behalf of it’s taxpaying members) to end these abuses. Persons spending taxpayer monies in such a manner should be required to pay it all back, as well as lose their job!
So what do you say, AMAC?

Cynthia
5 years ago

None of you would be saying this if there was a republican at the White House. !!!!!

bob
5 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia

It doesn’t make a difference what party is in the white house. This abuse has been going on decade after decade. Until people are held responsible for their theft of yours and mine tax dollars it will never change. Prosecute!!!

Dave
5 years ago

In my opinion, the longer a federal employee is in the job, the easier it is for him/her to justify putting what WE would consider an unacceptable charge on a government credit card. They seem to develop a sense of entitlement and convince themselves that they deserve to make the charge because of all the good work they do “for the American people”. It is stealing, no matter how they spin it. Termination is the punishment in the private sector and any benefits, vacation time, or comp time accrued is forfeit. Such infractions by federal employees cannot be allowed. These infractions should never be protected by a federal employees union.

R Sherouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave

This is all very misleading! A Department of Defense’s government travel card is issued in the name of each government traveler to cover travel expenses: hotels, meals, conference fees and incidental expenses. So folks are basically saying that its wrong for a government traveler to use his/her card to pay for room, meals and incidentals at hotels in Las Vegas, Reno or other places? Seriously? Don’t folks realize that these places are the most cost effective places to hold government training, workshops and other events? AMAC seems to be misrepresenting and misinterpreting legitimate card use here.

Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  R Sherouse

R Sherouse, I don’t object to the locations of the rooms, meals, etc. at hotels. There are so many places around this country that are equipped to handle any event, it should be fairly easy to plan these events in venues other than casinos and adult entertainment facilities. Let’s just say for appearance sake in the interest of transparency, the planners could easily do a better job in setting a venue. I’m not inclined to give federal employees a pass when it comes to taxpayer money.

Bob Carlson
5 years ago

It is amazing how many dishonest people there are out there that you work with, it’s not just in federal government, but state, local government, school systems, company and business employees and their owners. People that you may have worked with and trusted for years may have been stealing you blind. Primary problem is that no one is watching the “hen house”, but it goes beyond that. How many layers of “watchers” are necessary, do we have need auditors checking the auditors who watch the auditors??? By and large, I think most people are pretty honest, but those relatively few (more than you think) bad apples are costing others not millions but billions of dollars per year and even if they are caught there is literately no restitution, do they get fired and jailed? They may have stolen millions, if charged and convicted their sentence is probably a light jail sentence and are then required to pay back $100 or so/ month which will never happen and if they did would take about thousand years to pay if off!!!!! I am not sure that things are better or worst than they were in the past. But it sure is disappointing today.

J. A. Stock
5 years ago

This is beyond ridiculous. Not only the employee, but anyone in the chain who has approved these charges should be removed from government employment immediately. This isn’t the time to put someone on paid administrative leave while an investigation is carried out — which usually takes months. It should immediately be put forth as a government regulation that no charges from establishments who provide adult entertainment, such as casinos, massage parlors, brothels, marijuana parlors, etc., would be approved. Period. No ifs, ands, buts, or approvals.

N. J. Noyes
5 years ago

Perhaps the most effective way to deal with this problem is to restore ethics and morals to our culture. As a culture we have kicked God out. In so doing the values on which this country were founded have been abandoned. What you have here is outright theft; each individual involved in this activity should be apprehended, charged, and put on trial for theft.

Roy Hubbard
5 years ago
Reply to  N. J. Noyes

I beg your pardon Cynthia, You cannot possibly know what I would be doing in any given circumstance. I guarantee you i would be, and have been just as incensed at the stupidity or the dishonesty of REpublican representation.
If you want to try and balance the scale on such matters you will find that the current socialist democratic regime is hell bent on doing it their way and to heck with the constitution or with bipartisan government.
The democratic party has shamefully ignored the immigration problem with the sole intent of gaining more liberal voters who will vote of the hand out instead of the hand up. They have done so at the peril of the country. At the same time the republican party has not done much better because it seems to be their mode to do nothing and then object to anything being done by the democrats.
It’s you and I who must change things and the first thing we must do is stop throwing rocks in the form of blanket factless statements.

Gordy Andersen
5 years ago

Government’s solution to a problem is always more government which always creates more problems. We will never solve our country’s problems until we shrink our government and return to strict constitution limits of power.

Charlie Wood
5 years ago

NO Government Agency needs a Credit Card. This OUR Money, NOT Their money !

The OLD Warhorse
5 years ago

The only way this abuse will ever be controlled is for Congress to completely change the work rules for Government Employees, and that will never happen. Simple work rules: You abuse your government credit card – you are fired, now, do not pass go. Manager fails to follow the simple work rules: You are fired, now, do not pass go. That way, managers cannot show favoritism to selected employees. Like I said, it will never happen. Government Employees Union is an arm of the Democrat Party and launders, er I mean, donates many millions to Democrat candidates.

Stan
5 years ago

This is just another example of a broken government system. It creates other agencies to monitor agencies who are incapable of monitoring themselves. This is a pathetic “merry-go-round” to abuse more of taxpayers’ dollars. The sad part of this scenario is that it is bipartisan.

DAVID FERRARA
5 years ago

AT THE VERY LEAST, THOSE UNAUTHORIZED EXPENDITURES SHOULD BE COUNTED AS TAXABLE INCOME FOR THE OFFENDERS. IF I HAD MY WAY, WHICH I OBVIOUSLY DO NOT, I WOULD MAKE EVERY SINGLE CHARGE OF $100 OR MORE, A FELONY THEFT AND SENTENCE THE ABUSER TO PRISON JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CRIMINAL.

Mas
5 years ago
Reply to  DAVID FERRARA

I totally agree with you… I also, like this post from The OLD Warhorse: You abuse your government credit card – you are fired, now, do not pass go. Manager fails to follow the simple work rules: You are fired, now, do not pass go. I like this too. If you make the punishment meaningful you will have less abusing the system….

BobA
5 years ago

I find it very hard to understand why Congress had to pass a Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act. And find it more astounding that this did little to actually quell such abuses. This government is broken and needs to be changed from top to bottom.

Emmett
5 years ago

I was a Department of Defense employee for 38 years and used the Government travel card often. I never once abused the card, and I fel that anyone who did would face severe punishment. I guess the difference today is that DoD employees don’t have the moral backbone to always do right and that management is of the same character. Not across the board, of course, but enough to be an embarrassment to the DoD.

Rik
5 years ago

Well, I guess they didn’t go to Trump’s Atlantic City Casino since he went Bankrupt with that one.

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