Beer making equipment, iPods, and dog booties. What do these three items
have in common?
Well, according to a new audit from the Government
Accountability Office, they are all items that are essential in the day-to-day
operation of the Homeland Security Department.
Or, at least, that’s what the employees of the department
seemed to think when they purchased those items with Homeland Security-issued
credit cards in 2005.
The Associated Press reported that the audit found
that Homeland Security employees racked up $435 million in expenses on their
government-issued cards in 2005, compared with $296 million in 2004.
Much of those expenses came in the months surrounding
The audit found that employees spent more than $68,000 on
2,000 sets of dog booties for search and rescue dogs. No problem there, except
that the booties were the wrong kind and have since been sitting unused in
In addition, employees purchased 12 Apple iPod Nanos and 42
iPod Shuffles for Secret Service training and data storage, The AP reported.
More expenses, such as beer making equipment, designer rain
jackets and hotel rooms at a golf and tennis resort on St. Simons Island in Georgia, were also described as abusive and questionable.
And, as if that weren’t enough, the audit found that 107
laptops, 22 printers and two GPS units worth $170,000 are unaccounted for. A
dozen boats purchased by the Federal Emergency Management Agency have also gone
missing, according to The AP.
A Homeland Security spokesman told The AP that the
department will begin enforcing new spending guidelines within the next several
weeks and that violators of the guidelines could have their cards taken away,
be forced to repay expenses and face other disciplinary action.
The audit blamed the abuses on poor training, lack of
oversight and confusion over what employees are allowed to buy with the cards.