DOD reacts to credit card abuse

Department plans to introduce administrative and legislative changes to fix recurring problems

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.

NEXT STORY: DOD group approves biz projects

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