Friday, February 27, 2015

Federal Workers Caught Stealing Gas

I noticed this one in a back page of the Washington Post this morning:  Federal workers caught stealing gas with taxpayer money
Since 2010, federal employees have illegally stolen $2.4 million in gas, amounting to about 260 cases of government workers across the country stealing fuel, according to an investigation by NBC4 Washington’s Scott MacFarlane.
Doing the obvious division, that a little less than $10,000 each over 4 years, or $2.5k per year. That's a lot of gas! Would you donate $2,000 to us for our annual gas bill? I didn't think so.
The GSA gas cards are assigned to a specific vehicle in the federal fleet of over 205,000 cars, buses, vans and trucks. According to the GSA’s Web site, the vehicles cannot be used for “activities outside of your agency’s mission including private business or personal errands.” Or to “transport members of your family, personal friends, or non-government employees in the vehicle outside of your agency’s mission, or without specific permission from the head of your agency or his or her designee.”

Each vehicle is assigned corresponding credit cards, but federal workers have been frequently found using the card for personal use, to earn some cash, and then forging data to try to cover it up.

The GSA inspector general’s most recent semiannual report to Congress, covering April through September 2014, listed a number of instances of federal workers caught stealing gas.
The eternal problem with spending in the Federal government is how to make it work smoothly without incurring too much fraud. Credit cards are widely held by federal workers, and with only a little laxity of supervision, can be readily used for personal purposes and billed to the government. My experience is that travel in the feds is hyper bureaucratic and discouraging to majority of honest worker, but with gaping holes through which bad actors can easily slide.
For example, Homeland Security Department contractor Jeffery Franklin pleaded guilty in May for using “multiple GSA Government Fleet Credit Cards to fuel his personal vehicle.” He was sentenced to six months in jail, a year of probation, and had to pay $3,920 in restitution. He cannot work for the federal government for three years.
I guess the possible furlough coming to the DHS won't be affecting him much.

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