|200 U.S. Army personnel have been caught spending government money on internet gambling and at casinos amongst other things, Congress was told on Wednesday.|
An enlisted man at Fort Drum, N.Y., rang up more than $10,000 in Internet gambling debts on his Army purchase card and tried to avoid payment by claiming that his card had been stolen. He was given two replacement cards before being caught.
Investigators audited purchase card transactions in five major Army commands. The travel card audits were conducted at two separate commands.
An Army spokesman said he did not know what, if any, disciplinary action had been taken against the 200 individuals.
But a military spokesman said the General Accounting Office, who conducted the investigation, found ``little evidence of documented disciplinary action against Army personnel who misused the card, or that Army travel program managers or supervisors were even aware that Army personnel were using their cards for personal use.''
The GAO made 25 recommendations last month to tighten controls over cards and to increase prosecutions of those who misuse them.
Investigators questioned purchases on government cards of a trip to Las Vegas, Internet and casino gambling, fine china, cigars, wine, and two pictures of Elvis Presley purchased at his Graceland mansion in Memphis.
The GAO also found that government cards had been used for personal purchases of more than $100,000 for computers and other electronic equipment, $45,000 for cruises, and $7,373 for closing costs on a home.
In one instance, the GAO found government charge cards were used for a $30,000 purchase of 80 Palm Pilots at the Pentagon's top procurement office.
Citing a congressional investigation, Grassley, R-Iowa, said the soldiers also used their military identification and government travel cards to obtain cash from adult entertainment bars and then spent the money there. The GAO said the clubs charged a 10 percent fee to supply the soldiers with cash, billing their travel cards for the full amount as a restaurant charge.
James T. Inman, the Army's acting deputy assistant secretary, said the service is ''aggressively correcting'' the problems uncovered by the investigation.
An Internal e-mail said there was a need ``to get enough goodies for everyone.''
100,000 Army personnel have purchase cards and over 430,000 have travel cards. The Army's charge bill last year totaled more than $3 billion.