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Irony: Gov't Watchdog Agency Finds Something 'Improper' When It Looks at Its Own Credit Card Bills

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“The percentage of improper purchases is over half of the transaction dollars.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The watchdog agency charged with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the Environmental Protection Agency has faulted itself for more than $36,000 in improper credit card bills.

credit card Photo credit: Shutterstock

The report, released this week, reviewed $62,012 in purchases by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and found that $36,488 “met the definition of improper purchases.”

The audit discovered that 46 of the 48 “high-risk transactions” had internal control weaknesses. The office’s investigation of itself found no intentional wrongdoing but rather poor record-keeping.

“We did not find any fraudulent or prohibited transactions,” the report stated. “This does not mean that items purchased with the cards could not have been purchased if proper procedures were followed.”

The report said availability of funding wasn’t determined by employees before placing an order; that employees did not get supervisor approval before making the purchase; and said there should be third-party verification beyond the staffer making the purchase and the supervisor approving the purchase.

The OIG, which has autonomy from the EPA for the purpose of conducting independent investigations, does not have consistent procedures with the agency’s contracts management manual.

The report acknowledged the irony of its watchdog role.

“The percentage of improper purchases is over half of the transaction dollars,” the report said. “OIG should lead by example in accountability for responsible use of government funds.”

Specific purchases weren’t mentioned, but the report said unverified funding made up 33 purchases and another 15 purchases were made by unauthorized personnel. No prior approval was given for 11 purchases and in no receipt was kept in four purchases.

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