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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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June 27, 2013 - 7:18 am

It’s been asked before but the question bears repeating: Could the IRS survive an audit by the IRS?

Like a lot of big companies, the Internal Revenue Service allows some of its 90,000 employees to use company charge cards to buy work-related items, such as office supplies.

The IRS isn’t a “company.”

The inspector general said the IRS has been negligent when it comes to catching employees who circumvent $3,000 caps on transactions, by splitting purchases into several transactions. The agency also doesn’t have a good record at turning off credit cards as soon as employees depart or retire.

“The IRS purchase card program lacks consistent oversight to identify and address inappropriate use,” the report found.

The IRS spent $50,000 on a week’s worth of meals, parties and meetings for a five-day International Executive Conference, the report said. During that week, IRS paid for a dinner, which averaged $140 a person.

The IRS also hosted a lunch that averaged $100 a person and included 28 bottles of wine for 41 guests. The IRS defended the purchases by saying that alcohol purchases are allowed by law when entertaining foreign officials, as happened at the conference. But the watchdog said the expenses were too high.

The report also said that employees had spent some $4,000 on buying kazoos, Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands and Nerf footballs.

According to CNN’s story, a couple of IRS cards were used to buy porn, and when the cardholders were questioned they claimed that the cards had been stolen.

The Ron Paul folks could get a lot of mileage if they switched from yelling “Audit the Fed!” to “Audit the IRS!” I bet near 100% of Americans would support that.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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That's the trouble with government purchase and travel cards at all levels of government; there's not enough people monitoring the use and those who are charged with monitoring are powerless accounting clerks and such. Most governments are set up so that the head of a finance office actually has veto power over an expenditure, no matter who authorized the expenditure. There is a "certifying officer" who has the ministerial power and duty to certify that there are funds to support a payment and that the expenditure is in fact authorized by rule or law. Absent that certification, a payment cannot be authorized. Government credit cards short circuit that power in the the employee can make an unauthorized purchase and within limits the CC company will just pay the vender. Then it is up to the government's monitoring program to find unauthorized purchases and at minimum make the employee repay the government and in the worst cases fire the employee and seek prosecution.

In Democrat administrations there isn't much interest in doing this kind of monitoring of their own people; Democrats are good people, good people don't do bad things, therefore there is not reason to monitor. But, even in administrations that care, some lowly clerk is the one peruseing those statements and she, its usually a she, has to tell her boss and have it work up the chain that the director of widget making made a $500 purchase of "limousine service" on his last trip using his government card. "Limousine Services" is a common blind for ladies of negotiable virtue. It is even worse when it is the commissioner or secretary of widgets, a cabinet level appointee, who made such a purchase. And don't even think about what it does to your career if you rat out an elected official. When my wife was a lowly accounting clerk many, many years ago, she actually got a cabinet officer fired by following the rules and informing OMB of an unauthorized foreign trip he made. The price was she didn't get several promotions that came along and was stuck as a clerk until after the change of administration. All governments work that way.
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