Feds Plan Would Curb Navy s Appetite For PDAs, Laptops

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Feds Plan Would Curb Navy s Appetite For PDAs, Laptops By Brian Krebs, Newsbytes WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A., 02 Jan 2002, 7:27 PM CST The General Accounting Office (GAO) today outlined a plan to beef up internal controls over the Navy s e-procurement card program, a system that federal bean-counters say allowed for the unauthorized purchase of dozens of Palm Pilots, laptops and digital cameras. The recommendations issued today follow a GAO report released this summer documenting weak internal controls over so-called purchase card programs at two Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Center (SPAWAR) installations in San Diego. In July, GAO researchers told a House Government Reform subcommittee that poor management and training for employee use of some 2,600 purchase cards left the program vulnerable to theft and fraud. More than half of the items purchased with the cards including personal digital assistants (PDAs), flat-screen monitors, and digital cameras – were never inventoried in the government s property records, and most could not be produced upon request. The controls were so lax that at least two Navy Public Works Center employees rang up illicit charges of at least $660,000 on everything from DVD players to laptops, pizza and jewelry, the GAO said. The control breakdowns related to the frauds were so pervasive that the total dollar amount of these frauds could not be determined, the agency said in its report. The report published today recommends that SPAWAR management move to pare down the number of employees eligible for the purchase card program. The study also urges the Navy to adopt specific controls on the monitoring and inventorying of items purchased with the cards. In commenting on a draft release of the latest report, the Department of Defense agreed with the majority of the recommendations but said it could not abide by a policy aimed at minimizing the number of cardholders, saying it would unnecessarily interfere with the DOD s policy of allowing individuals to obtain purchase cards as mission requirements warrant. The GAO said it was disappointed with the DOD assessment, noting that most of the 1,526 employees (36 percent of SPAWAR s staff) still hold purchase cards with credit limits of $25,000 apiece. A copy of the report is online at: http://www.gao.gov . Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com

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