Gov't Charge Cards Used to Buy 'Girls Gone Wild' Videos, $13,000 Steak Dinner and New Orleans Saints Season Tickets

January 18, 2011 - 2:28 PM

(CNSNews.com) -- In an anti-fraud and investigative training program last August, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) listed multiple abuses in the federal purchase card program used by federal employees. These abuses included a $13,000 taxpayer-funded steak house dinner, use of Internet dating services, purchase of erotica products, Girls Gone Wild Videos, and five season tickets to the New Orleans Saints.

The information was included in a Power Point presentation by Cindy Barnes, with the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations team. The presentation was called  “Purchase Cards - Audits and Investigations”.

federal purchase card

An example of a federal purchase card.

Among the findings listed under a government wide study of the purchase cards is “nearly 41 percent of all federal purchase card transactions from July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006, failed basic control checks” and the presentation includes case studies where a “U.S. Postal Service employee spent $1,100 on Internet dating services over a 15-month period” and “$13,000 – Dinner and alcohol for 81 at Ruth’s Chris”.

 

In the presentation,  one example states, “Data mining revealed inappropriate debit card charges:

-       Erotica Products (‘Condoms to Go’, ‘Pleasure Zone’)

-       Girls Gone Wild videos (‘GGW Videos’)

-       1- week Caribbean vacation (‘Vacation Express’)

-       Five season football tickets (‘New Orleans Saints’)”

While the actual price of these items is not listed in the training presentation, a search of the GAO reports on debit card abuse by federal employees estimates the total cost of the items listed at $5,350.

The reports also reveal additional federal debit card use for $600 at a Texas gentlemen’s club, $3,700 worth of purchases at a jewelry store, $400 at a massage parlor and $450 dollars for an arm tattoo.

The U.S. General Services Administration has been contracting the charge card services since 1984. According to the training presentation, the federal purchase card program budget grew to just under $1 billion in 1994 and went over $19 billion in 2009.

This is not the first time the GAO has been critical of the federal purchase card program. In April 2004 GAO officials  testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that increased management and oversight for the program could save hundreds of millions of dollars.