DOD reacts to credit card abuse

The Pentagon will develop a broad proposal for administrative and legislative changes that will help the Defense Department improve oversight of government issued credit cards, the DOD comptroller said.

DOD has created a committee that is investigating the problem of fraud, waste and abuse of the government issued credit cards, said DOD comptroller and chief financial officer Dov Zakheim during a March 27 press briefing. The committee will complete its work by June, he said.

"We are not going to let the grass grow under our feet on this one," Zakheim said at the Pentagon briefing.

The committee will be made up of officials from DOD services, the Office of Management and Budget, the DOD inspector general and military criminal investigators.

The moves come one week after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked the comptroller to investigate the reports of abuse and weeks after a congressional committee heard about the latest problems associated with government issued credit cards.

At that session, lawmakers heard about extensive credit card abuses, including an employee who went on a Christmas gift-shopping spree and one DOD employee who used a government-issued card to pay for his girlfriend's breast enlargement operation. Those problems occurred despite lawmakers' warnings.

Zakheim warned that DOD personnel found to be misusing the credit cards would be punished. Yet he defended the credit cards themselves as a key part of DOD's efforts to streamline operations and reduce bureaucracy by eliminating needless paperwork that typified even simple purchases.

"The issue is not to eliminate the cards," he said. "That is detrimental to DOD." The issue, he said, is how the cards have been managed or failed to have been managed.

Regardless, the number of incidents is small compared to the number of cards issued and the frequency with which they are used, he said.

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 DorobekInsider.com, 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, FCW.com, 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 PlanetGov.com, 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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