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    iPods, Dog Booties and Beer Part of Homeland Security Spending Audit Finds
    Last Update: 7/18/2006 11:29:37 PM

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Homeland Security Department wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars last year on iPods, dog booties, beer-making equipment and designer jackets, congressional investigators have concluded.

    More than 100 laptop computers and a dozen boats also bought by Homeland Security employees are missing, the investigators found. Poor training, lax oversight and rampant confusion over what employees are allowed to buy with government-issued purchase cards left Homeland Security "vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse," according to a draft report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative and auditing arm.

    The report was to be released Wednesday by a Senate panel that oversees the department. Senators said more than 10,000 Homeland Security employees carry purchase cards for business-related expenses - with a spending limit that was raised to $250,000 for emergencies after Hurricane Katrina hit last Aug. 29. Aides said the audit covered expenses for a five-month period both before and after Katrina.

    Investigators found that employees received scant training on how to use the cards, were given little or lax supervision and were told to follow spending guidelines that differed among the 22 agencies that make up the department.

    Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Tuesday evening only a fraction of the expenses were improper, noting that the department has disciplined about 70 employees amid 1.1 million purchases.

    "Comparatively, we're talking about a small number of bad apples," Knocke said.

    Among the expenses that investigators described as abusive or otherwise questionable:

    -More than 2,000 sets of dog booties, costing $68,442, that have sat unused in storage since emergency responders decided they were not suited for canines assisting in Gulf Coast recovery efforts.

    -Three portable shower units for $71,170 from a contractor who investigators said overcharged the government. Customs and Border Protection agents could have gotten similar showers for nearly a third of the price - and faster.

    -12 Apple iPod Nanos and 42 iPod Shuffles, worth $7,000, for Secret Service "training and data storage."

    -37 black Helly Hansen designer rain jackets, costing nearly $2,500, for use in a firing range that the Customs and Border Protection purchaser later acknowledged shuts down when it's raining.

    -Conference and hotel rooms at a golf and tennis resort at St. Simons Island in Georgia, worth $2,395, for training 32 newly hired attorneys when they could have used a nearby federal law enforcement training center.

    -A beer brewing kit and ingredients for more than $1,000 for a Coast Guard official to brew alcohol while on duty as a social organizer for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

    "The estimated price for a six-pack of USCG beer was $12," the investigators noted, adding: "Given that the six-pack cost of most beers is far less than $12, it is difficult to demonstrate that the Academy is achieving cost savings by brewing its own beer."

    The audit also found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot locate 107 laptops, 22 printers and two GPS units worth $170,000.

    FEMA also cannot find 12 of 20 boats the agency bought for $208,000.

    Knocke, the Homeland Security spokesman, said the department will begin enforcing new spending guidelines in the next several weeks that should eliminate much of the confusion and make sure buys are strictly supervised.

    Violators could have their cards taken away, be forced to repay expenses and face disciplinary action, he said.

    "We take very seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars," Knocke said.

    Never Forget 9-11-2001

    Stay safe out there!

    IACOJ Member

  • #2
    Maybe I am being a bit naive, but isn't FEMA a government agency, and therefore the employees .... oh wait.... never mind.

    I was trying to apply common sense on this one.

    On a real serious note, I find it a bit surprising that there is no standard policy regarding issue of government credit cards and appropriate use of. Any job I've ever had that included a company credit card also came with a letter that needed to be read and signed indicating that all expenses would be on behalf of the company only, and that any personal use would result in both a repayment and disciplinary action.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


    • #3
      whats new

      I'll buy off on the beer making equipment. If I'm stranded or in a disaster I could use a good beer or any beer for that matter. Reminds me of the $400.00 hammer and $600.00 toilet seats or was that the other way around? If it is government money it must be there to use foolishly.


      • #4
        FEMA also cannot find 12 of 20 boats the agency bought for $208,000.
        How the hell do you lose 12 boats?


        • #5
          They float away.
          It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.


          • #6
            Amazing how money can be wasted on missing laptops, boats and golf course hotel stays by "the suits" yet we have FF's in this country that respond to alarms in 1950's vintage apparatus with no protective clothing (unless you consider jeans and work boots to be protective clothing) who have to fill out mountains of paperwork to practically beg for a few bucks to buy BASIC equipment (gear, hose, nozzles, etc.) and are then DENIED for this funding. Just a damn shame...

            For being the wealthiest nation on the face of the planet, it is utterly mind boggling how our government is so inept at managing resources. FEMA mandates that we as emergency responders MUST take their ridiculous "incident command" classes (anyone remember what a "joint interagency liaison" is??? ) but their own people have no training or knowledge in how to manage the affairs of their agency. Guess that's what you get when you make a horse competition lawyer in charge of emergency management ("Brownie, you're doin' a hell of a job".... )...

            Maybe FEMA and Congress should take a financial management seminar...then maybe they won't buy billions of dollars worth of useless
            SH&* that doesn't work anyway...like a $5K boob job for the Congressman's mistress (remember that gem?) or $3 million in mobile homes that aren't suited for marsh land use...anyone wonder where the $3 million cut from the '06 FireAct grants went? Hmmm.....

            Oh well, just my 2 cents...Stay Safe...


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