The Department of Defense failed to prevent staffers from expensing trips to casinos and strip clubs, even after the problem came to light, according to an inspector general report released Tuesday.
"DoD management did not take appropriate action when notified that cardholders potentially misused their travel card at casinos and adult entertainment establishments," said the report, published by the department's Office of Inspector General. "Specifically, DoD management and travel card officials did not perform adequate reviews for the cardholders reviewed and did not take action to eliminate additional misuse."
The review was conducted following a request from the Senate Armed Services Committee, and after a 2015 report that found similar behavior in previous years. Defense staffers conducted 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 between July 2013 and June 2014, according to last year's analysis. Of that figure, $96,576 went to strip clubs.
The latest review looked at records from September 2015 through June 2016. In addition to the misuse, the OIG found officials failed to take appropriate action when expense cards went missing. "DoD experienced potential national security vulnerabilities due to the untimely reporting or non-reporting of derogatory information regarding misuse," inspectors wrote.
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As a result, individuals with gambling problems were permitted to facilitate their addiction on the government's dime. Auditors said they identified one Army lieutenant colonel who, despite being warned last year and having several superiors notified, withdrew another $2,200 at casinos.
The OIG recommended that the Pentagon search harder for abuse, report any misuse in a timely manner, and establish more self-help programs for offenders. The DoD largely concurred, though it disputed the significance of the issue.
"The deputy assistant secretary for military personnel policy … noted the personal use identified in the report amounted to less than 0.04 percent of the total travel card spending and less than 0.03 percent of the total transaction volume," auditors wrote, and added that "improper reimbursements were less than 0.001 percent of the total DoD travel payments."