GAO: Air Force should cut up credit cards

Using data mining and statistical methods, the General Accounting Office dug through Air Force purchase card records for fiscal 2001 and found numerous internal control weaknesses, GAO said today in a letter to the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations.

GAO said the Air Force spent about $1.4 billion in fiscal 2001 with one purchase card for every seven employees. The Navy in contrast has one card per 31 employees, GAO noted. The worst Air Force failures'up to 89 percent'were routine approvals of card statements without reconciling them against requirements.

Among other improper purchases, GAO said Travis Air Force Base, Calif., bought computers from one vendor and then changed brands, declaring the new computers as surplus. Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., bought computers in anticipation of new hires, GAO said, but the equipment was still boxed eight months later. Neither site obtained three quotes when computer equipment exceeded the $2,500 micropurchase threshold, used mandated suppliers or notified inventory keepers about buys. Some cardholders' credit limits were 20 times higher than their actual spending, the auditors said.

GAO also audited computer and communications equipment bought by Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. It said the Defense Department Purchase Card Joint Program Management Office concurred with most of its 39 recommendations for reform


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