A sample audit has uncovered misuse and abuse among U.S. DOT employees who use expense cards and cash advances to travel. The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General says cardholders and recipients of cash advances for travel made more than $2 million in purchases unrelated to government travel in 2012.
Auditors noted that DOT employees spent a total of $175 million on government travel in 2012. The auditors selected 400 cardholders for review and studied 400 cash advance transactions, a small sample compared to tens of thousands of total transactions. Federal law requires periodic audits to help prevent abuse and uncover inefficiencies within the DOT.
The findings projected that cardholders spent $2.1 million in unauthorized purchases while on government business. Auditors also found that employees had used their cards to collect $183,000 in cash advances while not on government trips – a violation of the DOT Travel Card Policy.
The misuse went largely undetected by the DOT until the audit, the authors stated in their report published Sept. 18.
“Out of the 400 cardholder cash advance transactions we tested, 24 were excessive, and none were detected by program officials,” the Office of Inspector General noted.
“Program officials also did not detect all unauthorized cash advances that DOT employees collected while not on government travel because they lack an effective process for reviewing transactions for potential abuse.”
A review of 218 cash advances collected at casinos by DOT employees yielded 27 transactions not related to government travel, the Office of Inspector General found.
In one instance, a Federal Aviation Administration cardholder who was not on government travel at the time collected $492 in cash advances at a casino in Shawnee, Okla., according to the audit.
Program monitoring did not detect the transactions, the OIG noted.
The inspector general issued recommendations to the administrators of the DOT travel program, including the development of automated controls that would detect unauthorized advances and purchases.
In response, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation generally agreed with the auditors’ recommendations.
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