October 25, 2014

Grassley wants to cut abuse of government charge cards

Federal employees would be blocked from buying everything from hookers to the literal kitchen sink on their government charge cards under new legislation being introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican says he’s stunned by how a small fraction of federal workers have abused the system and misused their charge cards.

Grassley says the cards are supposed to be for official expenses, primarily on travel, but end up being used for all sorts of personal items and services. Grassley says, “Over the last ten years, I’ve helped to expose cases where these government charge cards have been used to buy such things as kitchen appliances, jewelry, gambling, cruises and even the tab at gentlemen’s clubs and legalized brothels.”

Grassley says the public trust has been violated by these federal workers in a host of departments,  from Defense to the FAA to the Forest Service.  “Now, wouldn’t you think that federal employees would be smarter than to do all of those things with a government card?” Grassley asks. “But, obviously, they aren’t.” He says his bill is all about accountability as millions of federal dollars are being fraudulently wasted by the government’s own employees.

“My reform bill would require federal agencies to put new safeguards and controls on the cards,” Grassley says. “It also would require penalties for violations. The Senate passed my bill in the last congress but the House never took it up and I’m not going to give up on this issue.”

He says the Government Accountability Office has reported lax and inconsistent controls in several federal agencies when it comes to charge and government travel cards. Grassley launched the first probe on the subject in 2001.