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Government Employees Misused Federal Credit Cards

Belvedere, Babes, and Beats on the Boss's Dollar

The Government Accountability Office performed an audit on the "business expenses" of federal employees charged to government purchase cards (their version of credit cards) and, shocker, found that about half of the transactions were frivolous and unauthorized. The extent of abuse in spending outside set federal purchasing guidelines is evident in charges for things like lingerie, gambling, iPods, online dating services, and a Postal Service group partied with a $13,000 steak dinner washed down with 40 bottles of wine and fancy liquor.

While these charges, fueled by the taxpayers' dime, are a bit more alarming than non-government employees abusing the company card, I'm sure there are plenty of these patterns in private companies. The cards were given to employees with the intended purpose of improving bureaucratic efficiency — perhaps they thought there wouldn't be an audit on their spending habits, for the sake of efficiency.

Have you ever seen this type of misuse in practice or broken any expense-account type rules yourself?

Join The Conversation
smartl smartl 9 years
I just don't understand how the expenses went through. I've never heard of a system where the company just pays the expenses without checking to see what they're paying for! I think it's obviously immoral of the employees to use their expense accounts this way, but more than that, this should be a lesson for the company, not the employees. How completely stupid of them to authorize purchases when they don't know what the purchases are. They need to be more diligent and then the system won't get so abused.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Dinners are not unusual. When a government employee is on a work related trip they get a per diem based on the city's standard of living. They can spend that money however they want. They can eat taco bell every night, or Ruth Chris. What some people also don't realize is that though the charges are on the card it doesn't mean that the government forks over the bill to pay everything on there. Usually their reimbursement will go into their checking and they pay the overages with their own money.
hmcmcd hmcmcd 9 years
uh...yes. this happens all the time, especially dinners, drinks, bars, clubs, I have never really heard of a lingerie expense but if it can be related at all to business it's charged.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I can't believe they had the balls (can I say balls) to use it for personal expenses. A steak dinner - I guess they didn't have a code of ethics going on at the job.
KansasNutmeg KansasNutmeg 9 years
My mom had this happen once....shes a superintendent of schools and one of her employees used a credit card to buy 3 hams of all things!! Its interesting what items get people caught on these deals, its usually very odd things.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 9 years
Nope. There are two main accounts - one for money from the county and one for money from local school funds. If funds have to come from county we have to submit reports before spending with an estimate of how much we will spend. Then we're given the credit card. You can't pay tax on your purchase (the tax exempt form must be taken along with the card). For items that need to come out of the local school funds, you still have to submit the forms but you don't get a credit card. You spend your own money then get reimbursed.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
My company doesn't give out corporate cards; we have to pay for our expenses up front and then get reimbursed. My company is fairly liberal, though. When I was down in Miami last week for business, I stayed at a very nice hotel and ate a lot of good food, and my boss approved all of my expenses. At least I don't have to stay at a Motel 6 and eat at Denny's.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I guess it all depends on what section of the government you work in. My fiance works for OIG (office of the inspector general) and their credit cards only work at certain stores, like groceries and such. They don't work at clothing stores, electronics stores, etc. Their main putposes are to use them for booking flights and hotels. They get that money compensated after they turn in their expense reports. And a lot of times they have to say before their trip what they are going to need money for (laundry, taxi, etc) They get a per diem and thats it. I wouldn't say all government employees do this. It is probably a small percentage of the higher ups.
scorpstar77 scorpstar77 9 years
That's TERRIBLE. And crazy. Seriously - don't they have to submit receipts and purposes to their accounting depts??? I have a company card, and I could NEVER get away with that kind of crap; I have to code and sign every receipt and send it to accounting immediately. Even if I could get away with it, I wouldn't because IT'S STEALING. As a gov't employee, you're stealing from yourself and other taxpayers, and as a private company employee, you'd be stealing from yourself and all fellow employees by affecting overall salaries, benefits and potentially stock options/profit sharing (if you get such things). Why are people so dishonest???
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