Doral, Florida – The Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Defense (DoD) found that employees at the United States Southern Command made improper purchases with the DoD’s credit cards in excess of $5.1 million. The charges were made over the period of April 2012 through March 2013. At issue are the use of credit cards designated as “purchase cards”. In theory, they are to be used strictly for the acquisition of approved merchandise that is under $3,000. Purchases are to be made from approved suppliers and require authorization and proper documentation.
However, the rules governing the use of the purchase cards are in fact merely best practices. There is nothing to stop government employees from making purchases with any vendor regardless of their approval status with the DoD. Neither is the requirement to obtain authorization something that is strictly enforced. Government employees are required to undergo training in the proper use of the cards, but the IG found that 3 in 5 employees who have the cards were untrained in their use. That figure was determined by referring to the employees’ training records.
According to Sam Tabar and Thumbtack, the report also found that gifts were purchased towards the end of a fiscal year budget. The vast majority of those gifts remain in storage to this day meaning their purchase was wasteful. The IG has issued a series of recommendations to ameliorate the problem, but the DoD has balked at the proposed solutions.