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U.S. Southern Command Government Purchase Card Controls Need Improvement to Prevent Improper Purchases

DODIG-2015-060

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Objective

We determined whether U.S. Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM’s) use of Government purchase cards (GPCs) complied with applicable la ws and regulations. Section 2784, title 10, United States Code, requires the DoD Office of the Inspect or General to periodically audit the DoD GPC Program.

Findings

USSOUTHCOM cardholders did not complete purchases in accor dance with GPC Program guidance. Specifically, cardholders did not:

  • provide sufficient supporting documentation for their purchases,
  • use mandatory sources of supply, or
  • have proper written authority to use the GPC.

This occurred because the Agency/ Organization Program Coordinator in place at the time the transactions were made did not effectively oversee GPC use.

As a result, USSOUTHCOM cardholders made 5,907 improper purchases (40.0 percent of the purchases we reviewed), valued at $5.1 million, from April 2012 through March 2013. Improper purchases made by an unauthorized cardholder may result in Antideficiency Act violations.

USSOUTHCOM Headquarters and U.S. Army South (USARSOUTH) Protocol Office personnel wasted $158,144 by making unnecessary GPC purchases using Official Representation Funds (ORFs) and Latin American Cooperation (LATAM COOP) funds to purchase gifts.

This occurred because the USSOUTHCOM Headquarters and USARSOUTH Protocol Officers initiated, reviewed, and forwarded for approval ORF requests for gifts without validating the appropriateness of the expense and ensuring that the command had a valid requirement for the purchase in the same fiscal year as the purchase was made.

Using ORFs and LATAM COOP funds for unnecessary gifts resulted in potential Antideficiency Act violations at USSOUTHCOM Headquarters and USARSOUTH. The wasteful expenditures could have been put to use in other operational areas and are considered abusive use of the GPC.

The Deputy to the Commander, 410th Contracting Support Brigade (CSB), in coordination with the Chief, Acquisition Support Division at USSOUTHCOM, implemented corrective actions in response to problems identified during the audit.

Recommendations

We made several recommendations to address these problems. See the recommendations sections of the findings in the report.

Management Comments and Our Response

We request that the Director, Joint Staff; Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller); Commander, USSOUTHCOM; and Commander, 410th CSB provide additional comments.

This report is a result of Project No. D2013-D000DC-0143.000.