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Rep. Gabbard Calls for Accountability on DoD Travel Card Abuse and Waste

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and a bipartisan group of Congressional Members delivered a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calling for the Department of Defense (DoD) to address millions of dollars misused by DoD personnel on government travel credit cards. The letter follows a recent Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) report revealing inadequate action by the DoD to respond to multiple cases of abuse in recent years.

gabbard-travel-card

Click to read report

“In just one year, from July 2013 to June 2014, an initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal expenditures. Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of these government-issued cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The most recent report found that the Department of Defense has failed to take appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit. The Department has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse of the government travel cards, initiated reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains susceptible to continued waste and exploitation.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Jim Costa (CA-16), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Walter B. Jones (NC-03), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09). Full text is available below:

Dear Secretary Carter,

We are writing to express our concern about DoD personnel misusing government travel cards and American tax payer dollars.

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) has investigated these abuses on multiple occasions in recent years. The most recent investigation resulted in a report, issued on August 30, 2016, in which the DoD OIG found the Department has not done enough to respond to the infractions. The report findings also suggest the Department still maintains insufficient processes to address the problem: insufficient instruction on the appropriate use of the government travel card; improper reimbursements for personal expenses; and a tepid response from DoD management to correct these issues. Most troubling is that the most recent audit was conducted as a response to a previous report on DoD misuse of government travel cards released in 2015.

In a one year period from July 2013 to June 2014, the initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal use. Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576.

The most recent report found that the DoD has not taken appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit. The DoD has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse, initiate reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains vulnerable to continued waste and exploitation.

The DoD IG made a number of recommendations to re-focus the Department’s efforts on identifying, investigating, and reporting the misuse or abuse of government travel cards. In light of the Department’s halfhearted response to the previous audit, we request a response on how the Department intends to implement the DoD IG’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the Department’s progress.

We thank you for your attention to our concerns. We welcome further discussion on this issue.

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