Last week the EPA’s Inspector General issued a report finding that EPA employees are abusing agency credit cards to purchase a wide array of personal items at the taxpayers’ expense.
For example, auditors found that several cardholders bought gym memberships for themselves and their family members totaling almost $3,000. Among the other improper items stolen were videos, gift cards, and meals. In total, over half of the suspicious transactions looked into by the IG ($79,300 of $152,600) were found to be “prohibited, improper, and erroneous.”
What makes this theft even more egregious is the fact that the EPA ignored its own policies that require its offices to review their purchases at least once every two years. Region offices were allowed to bypass such reviews without any consequences or follow up. Such lax oversight is in violation of the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act, which was recently passed to address longstanding problems with federal charge-card abuses.
This episode is endemic of the lax oversight pervasive at the EPA: Last year it came to light that a top EPA official did not show up for work for a-year-and-a-half, falsely claiming that he was working for the CIA, defrauding the taxpayer of over $1 million. EPA officials seem to have a nasty habit of looking the other way while certain staffers squander taxpayer money.