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Fraud plagued Homeland Security employee purchase program after Katrina: GAO

[JURIST] A draft report [PDF text] by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) [official website] released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee [official website] Wednesday has found that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] lost hundreds of thousands of dollars last year through fraud and abusive spending as a result of poor oversight of government issued credit cards for over 100,000 DHS employees used after Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. Employees already holding business purchase cards for the Department had their expense ceilings raised to $250,000 in the wake of the disaster to further rescue and relief work, and the GAO found that 45 percent of purchase card transactions made by DHS employees were not properly authorized, and 63 percent of the transactions showed no evidence that the goods or services purchased on the card were received. Among the misexpenditures were iPods for "Secret Service training and data storage" and designer rainjackets for use of a gun range that closed when it rained. Over $2300 was spent on booking accommodation for new attorneys at a hotel in Georgia instead of at a nearby federal law enforcement training facility.

DHS Chief Financial Officer David Norquist defended [PDF text] the DHS purchase card program, saying the cards save taxpayers' money because it streamlines small dollar purchases under $2,500 and reduces administrative costs. AP has more.

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