20:44 GMT21 June 2021
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    US federal employees spent billions of dollars using government credit cards with little to no oversight. More than 260,000 federal employees spent an estimated $19 billion using government-issued cards in 2015 alone. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Scott Amey, general counsel for the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.

    “The whole system [of issuing government credit cards] was designed to make it easier for federal employees to pay for government expenses without using their own personal money. But year after year we have been seeing official reports about government credit card abuse,” Scott Amey said.

    He added that it was not everyone in the federal government who actually used these cards.

    “The government has been trying to tighten restrictions on the use of such cards to prevent abuse, but, unfortunately, while in the old days we were used to seeing people buying a lot of personal good, boats. Some people even used government credit cards for breast augmentation. Now we’ve seen a shift with people using these cards at casinos and adult entertainment facilities.”

    One of the most recent reports was about army personnel who used such cards at certain places in foreign countries that were off limits to military personnel.

    “There is a lot of oversight that goes into these cards, but we need more safe cards and better training in where you can use them and what you can use them for,” Amey noted.

    He added that the Department of Defense recently conducted an investigation and found that card holders had made over 4,000 transactions totaling nearly a million dollars at casinos and another 900 transactions that totaled nearly $100,000 at strip clubs and other adult entertainment facilities.

    “So we need better oversight so that when getting back from their assignments people report about their expenses and if necessary, reimburse the government for those expenses."

    "We’ve seen some improvements, but I still think we need a system to make sure that when charges are made, there is some approval authority coming in to make sure that these are appropriate charges and rejects inappropriate ones,” Scott Amey noted.

    “We need to deter misuse and this is part of better training and better oversight over these expenditures. We’ll get there and it will be as efficient as the government hoped it would be,” he continued.

    The government has to be a good financial steward for taxpayers’ money.

    “Even if these programs help save $20 or $30 billion a year, which is somewhat small in comparison with the $3 or $4 trillion we spend annually, but this is the money that we need to make sure that is spent appropriately and wisely and is not subject to fraud, waste and abuse.”

    “That’s why we not only need better oversight but we also need to go after and prosecute violators. We need to send a message that when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars we are going to make sure they are spent appropriately,” Scott Amey emphasized.

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    Tags:
    oversight, casinos, federal employees, government credit cards, Strip clubs, US Defense Department, Scott Amey, US
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