Magazine article Insight on the News

Pentagon Is Casting a Wide Net to Catch Credit-Card Personal Shoppers. (Waste & Abuse)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Pentagon Is Casting a Wide Net to Catch Credit-Card Personal Shoppers. (Waste & Abuse)

Article excerpt

The Pentagon is going on the offensive against Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and contractors who abuse or misuse government-issued credit cards, according to DoD comptroller Dov Zakheim, and even may make doing so a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), punishable by court-martial.

The actions are being taken following repeated reports of military personnel and contractors improperly using government purchase and travel cards for personal or unauthorized expenses -- a systemic, governmentwide problem that has led at least one major U.S. bank to threaten to cancel its contracts with the federal government.

The latest round of recriminations was prompted by a General Accounting Office report that found workers at the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego had used government cards to make purchases, including $500 worth of Mary Kay cosmetics, $700 in compact discs and a $400 designer briefcase, among other things.

The reports caught the eye of certain members of Congress. "These credit cards are being taken on shopping sprees, and the cardholders seem to be immune from punishment," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) complained at a congressional hearing March 13.

The report also got the attention of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who views the matter "very seriously," according to Zakheim. "Money lost this way is the kind of money that can be spent on bombs, bullets and whatever else is needed," said Zakheim, who vowed that a new multiagency task force would make recommendations to Rumsfeld about how to fix the problem within 60 days. "We are not going to let the grass grow under our feet on this one," Zakheim promised. …

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