Wine, women, and song - tax dollars misused on federal employee travel

It wouldn't be this bad if the agencies just enforced the rules and laws already on the books with regard to travel by federal employees.

But the list of fraud, waste, and abuse by bureaucrats who want to stay an extra day to get in a round of golf, or who want to facilitate meetings with lovers, or just outright steal from the taxpayer is a long one according to this piece in the Washington Times:

Some employees still pad legitimate travel expenses, get the government to pay for "extras" or make taxpayers pick up the tab for out-of-town trips that never took place.For most of 2008, for example, Derrick Hampton, a legal technician in the Treasury Department's office of the comptroller of currency, entered claims into the department's computerized travel reimbursement system. The problem was, Hampton didn't travel out of town on any official business, officials later said. And he wasn't authorized to input travel claims.

It wasn't until Hampton had received about $25,000 for trips he never took that the scam unraveled, authorities said. He pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Washington to theft.

In other cases, employees targeted in travel investigations managed to avoid getting hauled into court and kept their jobs.

At the National Science Foundation (NSF), one senior manager extended trips and initiated travel "to facilitate his relationships with female companions, one of whom is an NSF employee," according to an internal inspector general's memo on the case. The trips included meetings in faraway destinations such as Tokyo, Vancouver and Paris.

When asked by investigators whether it was appropriate to consider a woman's presence in Vancouver when deciding whether to speak at workshop there, documents show the official responded, "Yeah, why not?"

That fellow at the NSF with a mistress in every port is still employed by the organization. He was even named to receive an award but it was pulled before the agency embarrassed itself further.

A common abuse by federal employees is flying business class instead of coach as the law requires. But stuff like that is only discovered in a formal audit - something that happens rarely. In 2007, the GAO discovered $146 million in wasted upgrades to business class, and there's no sign that the practice has been discontinued.

Senator Charles Grassley has introduced legislation to try and make agencies more accountable on travel expenses. But in the end, enforcement is still going to be a problem. As long as the abuses are tolerated at the top, there's no chance these practices will disappear anytime soon.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky





It wouldn't be this bad if the agencies just enforced the rules and laws already on the books with regard to travel by federal employees.

But the list of fraud, waste, and abuse by bureaucrats who want to stay an extra day to get in a round of golf, or who want to facilitate meetings with lovers, or just outright steal from the taxpayer is a long one according to this piece in the Washington Times:

Some employees still pad legitimate travel expenses, get the government to pay for "extras" or make taxpayers pick up the tab for out-of-town trips that never took place.

For most of 2008, for example, Derrick Hampton, a legal technician in the Treasury Department's office of the comptroller of currency, entered claims into the department's computerized travel reimbursement system. The problem was, Hampton didn't travel out of town on any official business, officials later said. And he wasn't authorized to input travel claims.

It wasn't until Hampton had received about $25,000 for trips he never took that the scam unraveled, authorities said. He pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Washington to theft.

In other cases, employees targeted in travel investigations managed to avoid getting hauled into court and kept their jobs.

At the National Science Foundation (NSF), one senior manager extended trips and initiated travel "to facilitate his relationships with female companions, one of whom is an NSF employee," according to an internal inspector general's memo on the case. The trips included meetings in faraway destinations such as Tokyo, Vancouver and Paris.

When asked by investigators whether it was appropriate to consider a woman's presence in Vancouver when deciding whether to speak at workshop there, documents show the official responded, "Yeah, why not?"

That fellow at the NSF with a mistress in every port is still employed by the organization. He was even named to receive an award but it was pulled before the agency embarrassed itself further.

A common abuse by federal employees is flying business class instead of coach as the law requires. But stuff like that is only discovered in a formal audit - something that happens rarely. In 2007, the GAO discovered $146 million in wasted upgrades to business class, and there's no sign that the practice has been discontinued.

Senator Charles Grassley has introduced legislation to try and make agencies more accountable on travel expenses. But in the end, enforcement is still going to be a problem. As long as the abuses are tolerated at the top, there's no chance these practices will disappear anytime soon.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky





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