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I’m shocked, shocked to find government employee credit card abuse

Daniel Ray

Journalists are supposed to be automatically outraged and shocked! shocked! by abuse taxpayer money by government officials.

I think I have to send my outrage-o-meter back to the shop for work. I think it’s worn out.

The Associated Press just moved a story (via Yahoo) based on a leaked copy of an upcoming Government Accountability Office report. The report details the use of charge cards by government employees, and finds that some of them were irresponsible and a lot of them were sloppy about their paperwork.

The story leads off, ” 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.”

It’s a heckuva good read. Trouble is, I’ve read it so many times before:

“Nearly 200 Army personnel used government charge cards to get $38,000 in cash to spend on ‘lap dancing and other forms of entertainment’ at strip clubs near military bases.” — Chicago Tribune, July 18, 2002.

“The Education Department blocked transactions to about 300 types of businesses to prevent use of cards for casino visits, limousine rentals and veterinary services, among other improper purchases.” — New York Times, Oct. 18, 2002.

“Agriculture Department employees used government credit cards to pay tuition for bartender school, to buy Ozzy Osbourne concert tickets, lingerie and tattoos and to make a down payment on a car.” — Savannah Morning News, July 12, 2003

Those are a few of the samples from the last time the federal government’s credit card program was sent out for renewal, and as it legitimately should, it’s being reviewed.

While I’m against any amount of waste, given the massive size of the program, and given that we’re dealing with human beings, it’s not one that sets off my outrage-o-meter. Given the opportunity, and a credit card, a percentage of people will behave badly, in government and in private firms. Those of you who work in a corporate setting, have you ever heard of a fellow employee abusing a corporate credit card? Thought so.

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  • maggie

    what if you turn in a director for abusing the gas credit card, he is confronted, admits to it, only after denying it, and is only suspended 1 week for the abuse and remains in his director role? to make matters even more interesting, I was terminated 2 weeks after turning him in, but here’s the real interesting part of the story, the employer waited until my “scheduled” date of short term disability as I went out for a hysterectomy and received, yes, in the mail (had to sign for it) my termination letter!