DOD to probe credit card abuse

Purchase card abuse hearing testimony March 13

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asked the Defense Department comptroller to investigate reports of abuse of government-issued credit cards.

"We are taking this very, very seriously," Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said March 18 during the regular Pentagon briefing. "One of our main responsibilities around here is to make sure that we take very good care of the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars."

Comptroller Dov Zakheim met with the secretaries of the military services and Rumsfeld's undersecretary on March 18 to discuss the allegations of waste, fraud and abuse of the credit cards, Clarke said.

Some of those reports, revealed at a House hearing March 13, are "very disturbing," Clarke said.

Earlier this month, the head of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command revoked the government-issued purchase cards at Spawar sites worldwide after continuing reports of problems — particularly at the Spawar Systems Center.

Just last week, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) detailed a new litany of credit card abuse, including employees who went on a Christmas season gift spree and one DOD employee who used a government-issued card to pay for his girlfriend's breast enlargement operation.

The General Accounting Office said its audits found weak internal controls over credit card use at the Spawar Systems Center and the Navy Public Works Center, both based in San Diego and the subject of GAO audits.

Horn promised to hold another hearing on the issue and asked GAO to broaden its review of purchase card buys.

Clarke stressed that DOD will make cardholders accountable for what they do with taxpayer dollars.

"We will get to the bottom of this," she promised. "If there are practices and policies that need to be changed, they will be changed. But we will make sure that we take very, very good care of those dollars."

Clarke defended the purpose of the purchase card program, which is designed to streamline the buying process and cut down on bureaucracy.

"That's a good intent, and it's one we want to preserve and protect," she said. "But there are lots of questions, and maybe there are good answers to some of those questions. But there are lots of questions about how well the program is functioning."

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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