In May of last year we talked about one of many government waste, fraud and abuse cases popping up in the Department of Defense. That particular one was a doozy, with DoD employees using their government issued travel cards to run up charges at casinos, strip clubs and other “adult entertainment” venues. Each individual account was relatively small potatoes in terms of the overall government budget, but the total discovered by the Inspector General’s office in response to a request by Judicial Watch added up to several million dollars.

But at least we dragged the perpetrators out into the sunlight of accountability so things could be brought under control, right? Not so fast, campers. The IG has concluded a follow-up investigation and found that fifteen months later there has been little or no action taken. (Government Executive)

Certain Defense Department employees apparently didn’t get the memo instructing them not to use their government travel cards at casinos and adult entertainment establishments, the Pentagon inspector general reported on Tuesday.

In a congressionally requested follow-up to an investigation that caused a dust-up last May, the watchdog’s review of 30 cases of potential purchase card abuse found that managers “did not take appropriate action when notified.”

Even though many of the abusers repay the government for personal visits to entertainment emporiums during official travel, “DoD management did not consistently consider the security implications of improper personal use of the travel card,” the report said.

Despite headlines in every national newspaper and hearings in Congress, nothing was done in many of the card abuse cases. And we’re not talking about “insufficient action” here. I mean nothing. One of the more famous individuals from the original case had charged $2,242 in a casino and was supposed to be in line for an intensive investigation. But in November, the IG’s office checked in with the following responsible officials in his chain of command:

  • Brigade Commander
  • Chief of Staff
  • Resource Management Officer
  • Security Manager
  • Command Inspector General

The IG found that not one of them was aware of the cardholder’s personal use of his travel card under inappropriate circumstances. The same was found in nearly all of the sample of cases they checked up on. In their full report, the following conclusion was drawn.

We determined that DoD management (cardholder’s commander or supervisor) and travel card officials did not take appropriate action when notified by the DoD OIG, during the previous audit, that cardholders had potentially misused their travel card. In this follow-up audit, we reviewed management’s actions for 30 nonstatistically selected cardholders with the highest dollar amount of high-risk transactions that had been referred to management in the prior audit. During this audit, we found that DoD management and travel card officials did not perform adequate reviews for the sampled cardholders

This brings up an unexpected and disturbing question. The entire idea of having not only an Inspector General’s office, but outside groups such as Judicial Watch to keep tabs on government waste is that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Once waste, fraud and abuse is exposed, the deficient agencies would presumably take action to address their shortcomings and come into compliance. But what happens when you point out the fact that our money is being stuffed into the G-strings of strippers in Vegas and the responsible government agency does nothing and holds nobody accountable?

It’s time for a change of management starting at the very top.

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