Friday, April 11, 2008

Doan Still A Pill At The GSA

The New York Times tells us here that many government employees have been abusing credit cards issued to them, running up such charges as $360 to buy lingerie before heading off to drug enforcement training in the Ecuador jungle, as well as hundreds of laptops, iPods and digital cameras to the tune of $1.8 million (all on our dime, of course).

And here’s more on this from the AP…

Agencies often could not provide the required paperwork to justify questionable purchases. Investigators also found that federal employees sometimes double-billed or improperly expensed lavish meals and Internet dating for many months without question from supervisors; the charges were often noticed only after auditors or whistle-blowers raised questions.

"Breakdowns in internal controls over the use of purchase cards leave the government highly vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse," investigators wrote, calling the government-wide failure rate in enforcing controls "unacceptably high."

"This audit demonstrates that continued vigilance over purchase card use is necessary," the 57-page report stated.

The report calls for the General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget, both of which help administer the government's credit-card program, to set guidance to improve accounting for purchased items, particularly Palm Pilots, iPods and other electronic equipment that could be easily stolen.

OMB and GSA were also urged to tighten controls over convenience checks, which are a part of the credit-card program, and to remind federal employees that they will be held responsible for any items if the purchases are later deemed improper.
The head of the OMB is Jim Nussle; the following was noted about him from here…

Half the time he was Budget Committee chairman, Nussle couldn’t even pass a budget -and he played a key role in approving the president’s policies that ran up the debt, mostly to pay for tax cuts for the very wealthy. With Nussle at the helm of OMB, Bush’s fiscal policy loses even more credibility.
And the head of the GSA is none other than Lurita Doan (pictured) who, as noted here by Think Progress last May, appeared completely befuddled before the Henry Waxman’s House Oversight Committee over whether or not she and/or her employees violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government resources – including employees' time or space in a government building – from being used for partisan politics.

I know this is yet another example of Bushco stuffing government agencies with partisan cronies who have not a clue when it comes to effectively managing budgets or personnel as well as formulating or implementing policy to enable efficient operation of their departments, but these stories (small by comparison to the Iraq war or the teetering of our economy towards collapse, to say nothing of our infrastructure in a similar state), in total, paint the picture of a branch of government that has totally abdicated its mission of service on our behalf.

Also, Sen. Charles Grassley has sponsored what I believe to be an utterly pointless related bill called “The Government Credit Card Abuse and Prevention Act of 2007” (here).

Instead of crafting legislation trying to mandate common sense, though, I believe the correct thing to do is to put people in charge of OMB and GSA who actually are not total hacks and let them do their jobs to the best of their ability.

To sum up, here are some more credit card charges…$14,000 for Internet dating services and a dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Orlando, Fla.; $45,000 at Brooks Brothers and similar stores for tailor-made suits — $7,000 of which were purchased a week before Christmas; and $642,000 from 180 convenience checks written by an Agriculture department employee for a live-in boyfriend over a six-year period.

January 21, 2009, with a Democratic president newly sworn into office and Bushco gone from our lives forever?


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