Pentagon: What Happens In Vegas… Is Apparently Charged To Defense Dept. Credit Cards
from the your-tax-dollars-on-red dept
Once again, we find the public sector lagging behind the private sector in terms of efficiencies, technological aptitude, etc. In this particular case, the public sector is slipping down the “hiding your hooker/gambling purchases from your employer” curve:
A not-yet-released Defense Department investigation has found civilian and military employees used government charge cards to make more than $1 million in purchases at casinos and to pay for escorts, according to an internal report.
In the private sector, these purchases would normally be covered up by cash advances or by utilizing savvier services who bill customers under innocuous names. Over at the Pentagon, no one seems to care. Just put it on the DoD’s tab! Who’s going to take a close look at a few thousand credit card statements?
Well, the Inspector General apparently did. And discovered that this occurred 4,437 times in a one-year period. Of course, the Pentagon is trying to play this down by pointing out that this total represents only 0.5% of the charges accrued over the same period. Left unaddressed is the principle of the thing, wherein taxpayers are often displeased to find their funds have been spent on hookers and roulette spins. And, of course, this would be displeasure in addition to the preexisting disgruntlement about the normal, everyday spending that helps keep the country operating at a steady
The DoD official also offered this reassuring statement that safely hedges the almost-assertions while simultaneously undercutting most of the intended reassurance.
Some or all of the charges may have been paid by the individuals, rather than the government, according to the official.
This statement is a little better, although essentially meaningless without the context of the full IG report.
The Defense official said the individuals who used their cards inappropriately will be held accountable, noting action has been taken on 364 cases and an additional 79 cases are pending action.
But the most interesting statement offered in defense of Pentagon employees and their indiscretionary spending is this one:
One official speculated to Politico the individuals may have used their government — instead of their personal — cards to hide the illicit activities from their spouses.
I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse about these government employees. This is very much a human nature problem. And the government still hires from the human race because there are currently no better options. No matter how much we’d hope it would hold potential and current employees to a higher standard (perhaps higher than one we’re willing to apply to ourselves), there’s still going to be a certain amount of misconduct and malfeasance.
But even if occasional abuse is unavoidable and the possible motivating factors understandable, the behavior is still far from acceptable. Are we supposed to feel better that this scenario will more likely result in the repayment of charges by the employee who racked them up? Do we raise a half-hearted cheer to the possibility that DoD employees aren’t trying to abuse taxpayer funds but rather hiding their gambling and escort purchases from their significant others?
I can see how facing the internal wrath of a Pentagon supervisor would be preferable to discussing this activity with a spouse… or their lawyer. But it’s still a betrayal of trust — on several levels — even if it is only a very small percentage of the whole.