Auditors scrutinize PDA, Net service buys

Auditors scrutinize PDA, Net service buys

The General Accounting Office stepped up its oversight of government purchase card misuse yesterday with a report detailing questionable buys of personal digital assistants, portable computers and Internet service plans by Federal Aviation Administration employees.

GAO identified $6.1 million worth of questionable purchases by FAA cardholders, including about $84,000 spent on PDAs, notebook PCs, flat-panel monitors, keyboards, other computer accessories and personal Internet service. Documentation was missing for many buys, so their validity could not be determined. About 17 percent of FAA employees hold government purchase cards.

GAO used data mining techniques on Bank of America fiscal 2001 purchase card records exceeding government limits, as well as statistical sampling of transactions.

More than half of the legitimate computer buys were not recorded in FAA's property system, GAO said, and more than a third of 692 items it tried to locate could not be found. 'Given systemic weaknesses in FAA's property control,' the auditors said, 'the actual amount of missing or stolen property could be much higher.'

Nevertheless, as GAO said in its submission letter to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 'The benefits of purchase cards are lower costs and less red tape for both the government and the vendor community.'

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