Labor Dept. Employees Made Unauthorized Charges at ... Chick-fil-A
(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Department of Labor employees racked up an estimated $3.8 million in unauthorized or undocumented expenses over the past two and a half years, including charges at Hilton Naples Grande Beach Resort, Wal-Mart, Target and Chick-fil-A, according to an Inspector General (OIG) audit released earlier this month.
The OIG estimated the total amount of unauthorized charges after auditing 174 government-issued Citibank travel card accounts.
Using charge cards issued to employees travelling on official business, Obama administration officials spent an unauthorized $210.10 at the Hilton Naples Grande in Florida, $528.94 at Wal-Mart, $888.09 at Target, and $126.67 at Chick-fil-A – even though the cards are to be used strictly for “official expenses, such as hotel rooms and airline tickets” that exceed $75.
OIG found that one Labor Dept. employee “incurred more than $10,000 in unauthorized transactions.” Thirty-seven “incurred $50,094 in transactions while not on official travel,” including $477.88 for “the unauthorized purchase of an additional hotel room” while a Labor Department official was travelling on official business.
.Another Labor Dept. employee who was allowed $952.53 in cash withdrew $3,677.56 from six trips to an ATM, an unauthorized excess of $2,725.03.
The audit “was initiated when a former senior level employee informed the OIG that he received a new Government travel card after he had separated from DOL.” The revelation prompted an examination of 174 active travel card accounts out of a total of 8,959 between October 1, 2010 and March 31, 2013. The audit also identified 68 former employees whose travel card accounts have remained open since March even though they no longer work for the department.
Out of the 8,959 total active accounts, 1,240 employees were unable to provide the required supporting documentation for transactions over $75, totaling $2.4 million in undocumented expenditures.
However, James Taylor, the Labor Department’s chief financial officer, noted that the unauthorized spending does not “represent a financial liability to DOL” because employees are expected to pay the sums themselves rather than receive federal reimbursements. The OIG confirmed that the travel card issue was more a matter of tightening internal controls than any loss of taxpayer funds.
A total of 934 employees were found to have active travel card accounts, although they “did not need them because [the travel cards] were never used over a 2-year period,” auditors found.
In addition, DOL “did not timely cancel 1,123” of the 1,482 accounts of separated employees, “several of which were cancelled more than 1 year after the employee separated.”
OIG recommended that the Office of Chief Financial Officer “enforce established policies and procedures” for travel card account review and “increase monitoring of the travel card program.”
Taylor responded to the report by noting that federal agencies can “suspend and terminate the employment of employees who misuse/abuse the cards,” and informing the OIG that the Labor Department has already begun implementing its recommendations.
CNSNews previously reported that DOL spent $5 billion on “improper unemployment insurance payments” for all 50 states from July 2011 to June 2012.