A US government watchdog says Department of Defense (DoD) officials failed to take appropriate action against staffers who misused government-issued credit cards at casinos and strip clubs.
On Tuesday, the DoD’s inspector general released a report into the May 2015 revelations that military staff had billed the government for nearly $1m in charges at casinos and a further $100k at strip clubs.
The report, which focused on a sample of 30 government cardholders, criticizes DoD management for failing to take action against card abuse even after the abuse was brought to light. The report notes that there were no formal protocols for what constituted legitimate card use, nor any specific disciplinary actions for misuse.
The report also warns that the DoD failed to take into account the potential national security ramifications of Pentagon officials’ “questionable judgment, unwillingness to follow rules and guidance, financial concerns, or gambling addictions.”
In one case, an Army lieutenant colonel who rang up $2.242 in casino charges told a supervisor that he would notify his superiors about the charges so that “when the report comes out, it’s already old news to him.”
However, the report says that the colonel’s brigade commander was still in the dark about the charges nearly one year later. Moreover, the colonel had rung up an additional $5,519 in casino charges since the original transactions were brought to light.
Another case involved a Navy civilian who rang up nearly $30k in casino charges, $3,453 of which was charged to his card after the inspector general notified the appropriate Navy command of the improper charges.
In general, the report found that DoD officials failed to monitor travel card use by individuals who’d been flagged for card misuse, nor did they impose limits on these individuals’ future use of their cards. In some cases, the DoD failed to deactivate cards even after the individuals had ended their military service.
In response to the report, DoD bigwigs insisted that the improper charges cited in the report amounted to “less than 0.04% of the total travel card spending and less than 0.03% of the total transaction volume.” The watchdog countered that such statements “minimize the importance of our findings.”