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View Full Version : Strip clubs, casinos: DoD gets $1 million surprise



Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 03:23 PM
A Navy SEAL traveling to El Paso on official duty recently visited several strip clubs, laid down his official government credit card and spent a total of more than $1,000 at adult entertainment establishment during his 17 days of travel.
At the Navy, however, the charges raised no eyebrows.
And that was not an isolated incident. Across the Defense Department, government credit card holders improperly spent more than $1 million at casinos and adult entertainment clubs in a single year, the DoD Inspector General has found.
In a report released Tuesday, the IG documented widespread abuse of military credit cards for personal use and repeated failure of DoD's detection system for flagging potential abuse of taxpayers' dollars.
In response, Pentagon officials emphasized that Government Travel Cards are issued to, billed to and paid for by the employees who hold them. The improper charges flagged by the IG were not reimbursed by the Defense Department and taxpayers sustained no losses, because individual employees are ultimately responsible for paying the balances for any outstanding charges with out-of-pocket cash.
Nevertheless, the IG noted, standard rules restrict government credit cards to use for official business.
Specifically, in a single 12-month period running from July 2013 to June 2014, DoD cardholders ran up 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in charges that likely involved personal use at casinos.
At strip clubs and other adult entertainment establishments, cardholders also rang up 900 additional transactions totaling nearly $100,000, according to the report.
In many cases, the defense agencies overseeing those credit cards did not detect the improper transactions because:


The compliance programs did not have a mechanism for identifying and flagging charges at casinos and adult entertainment establishments




DoD had no policy requiring its its components to identify "high-risk merchants" that might suggest wrongful personal use of government credit cards at casinos or adult entertainment establishments In the case of government credit cards, banks were not required to notify military agencies or management officials of potential fraudulent activity or suspension of accounts, because individual cardholders resolve those matters. So it was unclear whether the transactions that occurred at casinos or adult entertainment establishments involved misuse by government employees or a credit card scam.


To identify wrongful spending in its investigation, the IG used the Visa IntelliLink Compliance Management system, a service in which the Visa company provides data on credit card transactions for businesses and others to use in identifying improper charges.
The IG recommended that the Defense Department adopt policies requiring its agencies to use this Visa service, according to the report.
Other IG recommendations included developing ways for DoD credit card compliance officers to identify transactions that:

In response to the report, the Defense Travel Management Office agreed to pursue new ways to better track improper use of government credit cards. The DTMO also told the IG that the report does not highlight the strengths of the DoD Government Charge Card program.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told Military Times that the IG report overstated the problems with the Government Charge Card program.
"The report language applies a very broad stroke against all cardholders when, in reality, personal use of the Government Travel Charge Card is negligible when compared to the size and scope of the program," Christensen said.
"Clearly, the behavior displayed by these individuals neither comports with our values nor represents the good service of the vast majority of our service members and DoD civilians. Action is being taken to address individual instances of misuse," he said.
Christensen reiterated that the federal government is not financially liable in any case of card misuse, including the misuse described in the DoD IG report.
"Taxpayer funds are not being obligated to pay for this misuse, directly or indirectly through reimbursement to the traveler," he said.

Are not linked to official travel status or official travel locations.
Are automated teller machine withdrawals that exceed the overall meal and incidental expense amounts while the cardholder is in a travel status.
Occur at specific known casinos, casino-processing centers, and adult entertainment establishments.



Read more: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2015/05/19/strip-clubs-casinos-defense-department-credit-cards/27600437/



I never really understood the big "problem" with people using their govt. credit card for "unauthorized" purchases if they pay the card off themselves.

I think this problem is indeed overstated...it costs the govt nothing if a member uses his card and pays it off. If anything, the govt. probably benefits through rebates.

I also wonder about these transactions "at a casino"...last time I checked you can't just go lay your credit card down at a table...I suppose you could put it in a slot machine, maybe...but, more likely, maybe members are using the ATM that is in a casino to get cash...which is their per diem anyway. Again, what's the big deal?

Same deal with strip clubs...last I checked, strippers don't take credit cards...so he's either using the ATM which is in a strip club...or at worst, running a bar tab.

Would be different if this were IMPACs and the govt was paying the bill...

sandsjames
05-20-2015, 03:47 PM
I never really understood the big "problem" with people using their govt. credit card for "unauthorized" purchases if they pay the card off themselves.

I think this problem is indeed overstated...it costs the govt nothing if a member uses his card and pays it off. If anything, the govt. probably benefits through rebates.

I also wonder about these transactions "at a casino"...last time I checked you can't just go lay your credit card down at a table...I suppose you could put it in a slot machine, maybe...but, more likely, maybe members are using the ATM that is in a casino to get cash...which is their per diem anyway. Again, what's the big deal?

Same deal with strip clubs...last I checked, strippers don't take credit cards...so he's either using the ATM which is in a strip club...or at worst, running a bar tab.

Would be different if this were IMPACs and the govt was paying the bill...


Agree...per diem is per diem. Does it matter where I use it? I ran into this issue when I went TDY to Vegas. It was in February and a Red Flag exercise was going on. Billeting was full so we were put off base (at a hotel/casino). All my meals were at the Casino on the card. It was such a pain in the ass explaining to my RA when I returned. Had to turn in all sorts of paperwork to prove why I was at a casino instead of a Motel 6. Either way, shouldn't have mattered. It was my per diem. Even if it wasn't, it was paid off immediately.

TJMAC77SP
05-20-2015, 03:57 PM
Interesting points. I spent a lot of money (eating) in Vegas over the years. Well, comparatively not a lot of money but you get the point. I would have hated to have to explain it all. The travel cards were pretty new before I retired so it never came up.

garhkal
05-20-2015, 06:46 PM
I never really understood the big "problem" with people using their govt. credit card for "unauthorized" purchases if they pay the card off themselves.

I think this problem is indeed overstated...it costs the govt nothing if a member uses his card and pays it off. If anything, the govt. probably benefits through rebates.

I also wonder about these transactions "at a casino"...last time I checked you can't just go lay your credit card down at a table...I suppose you could put it in a slot machine, maybe...but, more likely, maybe members are using the ATM that is in a casino to get cash...which is their per diem anyway. Again, what's the big deal?

Same deal with strip clubs...last I checked, strippers don't take credit cards...so he's either using the ATM which is in a strip club...or at worst, running a bar tab.

Would be different if this were IMPACs and the govt was paying the bill...


For me, the big question is what are they doing IN the casino/strip club using the ATM for in the first place?

sandsjames
05-20-2015, 06:52 PM
For me, the big question is what are they doing IN the casino/strip club using the ATM for in the first place?

Why does it matter? Are casino's illegal? Are strip clubs illegal? Is there a difference if I draw the cash out at the bank, then spend it in the Casino?

As long as I don't go over my limit and I pay the bill on time, who gives a fuck?

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 07:27 PM
For me, the big question is what are they doing IN the casino/strip club using the ATM for in the first place?

My guess is gambling, drinking and looking at titties. It is TDY afterall.

Not sure why this is a big question? If you get $60 per day per diem and choose to have hot dogs all week and then spend $200 in the strip club...why is this a concern? And how does it equate to abuse? Is it okay if I use the ATM on base before we go out rather than the one in the casino?

Heck...I've had military conferences that took place in a casino...stayed there, ate there and did some gambling, too.

TJMAC77SP
05-20-2015, 07:37 PM
My guess is gambling, drinking and looking at titties. It is TDY afterall.

Not sure why this is a big question? If you get $60 per day per diem and choose to have hot dogs all week and then spend $200 in the strip club...why is this a concern? And how does it equate to abuse? Is it okay if I use the ATM on base before we go out rather than the one in the casino?

Heck...I've had military conferences that took place in a casino...stayed there, ate there and did some gambling, too.

Crazy Horse. Hell, once I was in there with my commander.

SomeRandomGuy
05-20-2015, 07:52 PM
Why does it matter? Are casino's illegal? Are strip clubs illegal? Is there a difference if I draw the cash out at the bank, then spend it in the Casino?

As long as I don't go over my limit and I pay the bill on time, who gives a fuck?

In the finance community we think these rules are pretty idiotic as well. Heck, that's a big reason why the report says the charges weren't flagged. The Agency Program Coordinator (APC) absolutely could have identified all of these charges and followed up on them. Do most APCs do that though? Heck no, we don't have that kind of time.

Usually, the first time charges get looked at is when someone goes TDY and doesn't pay their card. If they file a voucher, and the voucher isn't enough to cover the charges, questions get asked. In most cases I remember seeing, the traveler racked up a ridiculous amount of expenses because they have "a friend" who told them they were getting $140 per diem so they went bat shit crazy. When they returned they figured out they were only entitled to $39 per diem.

In any event the charges are still the traveler's responsibility. The government gets dinged and can get a smaller rebate in the next cycle but the government doesn't pay any of the charges. If you are 120-150 days overdue at that point it starts coming out your pay.

Most of the cases where someone spent way to much on a TDY were the result of gambling and strip clubs but honestly plenty of people have done it at bars as well. That's where the rule comes from.

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 08:25 PM
The travel cards were pretty new before I retired so it never came up.

My first govt. travel card was issued around 1992. This was before travel cards were much of a thing...so they didn't have any rules on where or what you could use it on. It wasn't a big problem though because the cards were "Diner's Club" cards which no busnesses accepted.

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 08:31 PM
Crazy Horse. Hell, once I was in there with my commander.

For Vegas, Olympic Garden IMO is the best overall (not that I've been to them all)...although, we generally will hit Glitter Gulch, which is kind of a clip joint, but we usually stay downtown Fremont area, so it's right there on Fremont, so, don't have to pay for a cab.

TJMAC77SP
05-20-2015, 08:32 PM
My first govt. travel card was issued around 1992. This was before travel cards were much of a thing...so they didn't have any rules on where or what you could use it on. It wasn't a big problem though because the cards were "Diner's Club" cards which no busnesses accepted.

I don't remember getting one until around 2000-2001. I could be wrong but I know that the earliest I could have been issued one is 1997.

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 08:40 PM
I don't remember getting one until around 2000-2001. I could be wrong but I know that the earliest I could have been issued one is 1997.

The Diner's Club program was very limited...I was in Panama and we were issued them for FMS trips to South America. I'm not sure what the point was because no one accepted them.

After that, they went to American Express cards, which was better...still pretty limited in the AF and not a lot of rules on using them...you could just use them and had to pay it back. I remember people going shopping with them, buying clothes, CDs, etc and it wasn't an issue.

sandsjames
05-20-2015, 08:46 PM
The Diner's Club program was very limited...I was in Panama and we were issued them for FMS trips to South America. I'm not sure what the point was because no one accepted them.

After that, they went to American Express cards, which was better...still pretty limited in the AF and not a lot of rules on using them...you could just use them and had to pay it back. I remember people going shopping with them, buying clothes, CDs, etc and it wasn't an issue.

Yeah, the AmEx wasn't bad. That was the first one I had. Seems that even though I had that I was still able to go to finance and get cash in hand.

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 08:53 PM
I don't remember getting one until around 2000-2001. I could be wrong but I know that the earliest I could have been issued one is 1997.

Made me curious...did a little googling



Pursuant to 40 U.S.C. § 481(a), the administrator of GSA is authorized to enter into contracts on behalf of federal agencies. By this authority, in 1983 GSA opened competitive bidding for a contractor. Thereafter, GSA awarded the contract to Citicorp (South Dakota), N.A. and its subsidiary, Citicorp Diners Club, Inc. In 1988, GSA awarded a "follow-on" contract to Citicorp. In 1993, once again after competitive bidding, GSA awarded the contract to American Express.

Under the GSA contracts, Citicorp and American Express issued government cards to military personnel designated by authorized representatives of the Air Force. On the card itself, under the employee's name, American Express imprints in raised letters the name of the government agency through which the card was issued. Similar designation was typically imprinted on the Citicorp cards. Eligibility for the government card is determined by Air Force commanders who have authority to deny a government card to anyone with financial problems or a history of credit card abuse. Cardholders receive the government card without charge and with no credit-check or limit. Cardholders are charged no interest or late fees on outstanding balances. Use of the government card is limited to charging expenses and obtaining cash advances for official government purposes. The Air Force then reimburses the cardholder for official expenses charged in accordance with the joint federal travel regulations. The Air Force is not liable to the card issuer for payment of the charge card balance. Rather, the individual cardholder is personally liable for all charges incurred on the government card. Typically, as in this case, the monthly charge statement is sent to the individual's home address.

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/915/1108/1619037/


Diner's Club ran from 83ish-93, then AMEX...again, they weren't issued to everybody like they are now, you had to have a regular TDY commitment, which was less common in those days!

I got to Panama in '92 and was issued the Diner's Club...and later the AMEX

Rollyn01
05-20-2015, 09:11 PM
Crazy Horse. Hell, once I was in there with my commander.

I was once part of a funeral detail where we spent two nights in a floating casino/hotel (I didn't even thought they were real till I saw the place rise and fell with the tide). Commander was like, "Enjoy yourself guy. Just don't wake up late." Needless to say, we were all a bit plastered and was sobering up on the way to the burial site the next morning. Those cards sure came in handy... Mmmm... beer.

Rollyn01
05-20-2015, 09:18 PM
Agree...per diem is per diem. Does it matter where I use it? I ran into this issue when I went TDY to Vegas. It was in February and a Red Flag exercise was going on. Billeting was full so we were put off base (at a hotel/casino). All my meals were at the Casino on the card. It was such a pain in the ass explaining to my RA when I returned. Had to turn in all sorts of paperwork to prove why I was at a casino instead of a Motel 6. Either way, shouldn't have mattered. It was my per diem. Even if it wasn't, it was paid off immediately.

With all the paperwork that you're suppose to give them when you use it (receipts, etc.), how the hell did they miss most of the purchases? Beside, being that the liability is on the user, why would they care? The only fraud to commit would be to receive comp for going to the strip club by claiming that it was for "official military purposes". I swear, it's harder to prove that you did the right thing than it is to get away with doing the wrong thing.

sandsjames
05-20-2015, 09:57 PM
With all the paperwork that you're suppose to give them when you use it (receipts, etc.), how the hell did they miss most of the purchases? Beside, being that the liability is on the user, why would they care? The only fraud to commit would be to receive comp for going to the strip club by claiming that it was for "official military purposes". I swear, it's harder to prove that you did the right thing than it is to get away with doing the wrong thing.

It's definitely easier to just take the cash out of a normal ATM but sometimes you find yourself at a good strip club running low on cash...

There aren't really any receipts you have to turn in anymore.

Mjölnir
05-20-2015, 10:19 PM
For me, the big question is what are they doing IN the casino/strip club using the ATM for in the first place?


My guess is gambling, drinking and looking at titties.

Post of the year nominee ...

Bos Mutus
05-20-2015, 10:33 PM
Post of the year nominee ...

LOL..it is funnier when you cut down to the essentials like that.

Rollyn01
05-20-2015, 10:42 PM
LOL..it is funnier when you cut down to the essentials like that.

Too true. I'm hurtin' right now.

garhkal
05-21-2015, 04:29 AM
Why does it matter? Are casino's illegal? Are strip clubs illegal? Is there a difference if I draw the cash out at the bank, then spend it in the Casino?

As long as I don't go over my limit and I pay the bill on time, who gives a fuck?

Yes it does. As someone who had both a govt purchase card several times in the 8 commands i have been at, as well as the PTS card, we had it drumed into us what i can and can't be used for. REGARDLESS of whether you are willing and able to pay back the money. Or are you saying, rules be damned just as long as you can cover the bill.


My guess is gambling, drinking and looking at titties. It is TDY afterall.

Not sure why this is a big question? If you get $60 per day per diem and choose to have hot dogs all week and then spend $200 in the strip club...why is this a concern? And how does it equate to abuse? Is it okay if I use the ATM on base before we go out rather than the one in the casino?

Heck...I've had military conferences that took place in a casino...stayed there, ate there and did some gambling, too.

Cause Perdiem is meant for FOOD and Drink, (non alcoholic), and lodging/travel. NOT looking at titties, drinking beer/spirits, and such.
You want to do that, use your own money.
Heck every time i have EVER been issued a govt travel/purchase card, i had to sign off on a form understanding where it can/can't be used.



Use of the government card is limited to charging expenses and obtaining cash advances for official government purposes.

Bos. How exactly do you see visiting a strip club, "Official government purposes"?


I was once part of a funeral detail where we spent two nights in a floating casino/hotel (I didn't even thought they were real till I saw the place rise and fell with the tide). Commander was like, "Enjoy yourself guy. Just don't wake up late." Needless to say, we were all a bit plastered and was sobering up on the way to the burial site the next morning. Those cards sure came in handy... Mmmm... beer.

I know in the Navy that wouldn't have happened. Unless you were spending your OWN money on your own card.
What branch are/were you?

Rusty Jones
05-21-2015, 10:42 AM
Yes it does. As someone who had both a govt purchase card several times in the 8 commands i have been at, as well as the PTS card, we had it drumed into us what i can and can't be used for. REGARDLESS of whether you are willing and able to pay back the money. Or are you saying, rules be damned just as long as you can cover the bill.

Wow, all this just to say "because that's the rules." You said absolutely nothing beyond that. You might want to take another shot at that question.


Cause Perdiem is meant for FOOD and Drink, (non alcoholic), and lodging/travel. NOT looking at titties, drinking beer/spirits, and such.
You want to do that, use your own money.
Heck every time i have EVER been issued a govt travel/purchase card, i had to sign off on a form understanding where it can/can't be used.

Then why issue a general purpose card? Hell, per diem is almost $60 a day for meals; and every last person in here is guilty of buying cheap groceries and pocketing the rest. In order to spend $60 a day on food, you'd have to eat $20 meals every time. And I'm sure that you, Mr High and Mighty, have ALWAYS done this when TDY? Because if not, you're just as guilty as the rest of us.

Maybe instead of general purpose cards, they need to babysit us and give us a bunch of $20 gift cards to the restaurants in the area. Don't like the ones you've got? You can trade 'em with your friends, just like baseball cards!

sandsjames
05-21-2015, 10:55 AM
Yes it does. As someone who had both a govt purchase card several times in the 8 commands i have been at, as well as the PTS card, we had it drumed into us what i can and can't be used for. REGARDLESS of whether you are willing and able to pay back the money. Or are you saying, rules be damned just as long as you can cover the bill.



Cause Perdiem is meant for FOOD and Drink, (non alcoholic), and lodging/travel. NOT looking at titties, drinking beer/spirits, and such.
You want to do that, use your own money.
Heck every time i have EVER been issued a govt travel/purchase card, i had to sign off on a form understanding where it can/can't be used.




Bos. How exactly do you see visiting a strip club, "Official government purposes"?



I know in the Navy that wouldn't have happened. Unless you were spending your OWN money on your own card.
What branch are/were you?

Holy shit, dude. Are you serious with this stuff?

Per diem is per diem. It is for food and other expenses, as you say, but I'm not required to spend it all on food, etc. If I get $60 a day but only spend $40 a day on food, etc, the government still pays me the other $20. Should I go eat a 4th meal so as to spend it on what it's for? The don't take what's left over back from me. $60 is $60, no matter how I spend it. $60 is also $60 no matter where it's spent.

I can't really believe that you're serious with this stuff. You've got to have this response strictly to be on the opposite side as everyone else.

:edit...and just noticed I repeated much of what RJ said. Guess it's that obvious that your argument is a joke.

Rollyn01
05-21-2015, 11:10 AM
I know in the Navy that wouldn't have happened. Unless you were spending your OWN money on your own card.
What branch are/were you?

I was Army. Are you sure that wouldn't have happen in the Navy? I thought the person they busted was a Navy SEAL?

Rusty Jones
05-21-2015, 11:15 AM
I was Army. Are you sure that wouldn't have happen in the Navy? I thought the person they busted was a Navy SEAL?

If you haven't already figured it out by now, garhkal is the village idiot.

efmbman
05-21-2015, 12:49 PM
...and every last person in here is guilty of buying cheap groceries and pocketing the rest.

Darn right! At least I hope so - otherwise one is throwing money away. It is simple to determine what the total allowance for a TDY will be (it was always on my travel orders/authorization). I would always make my first stop the local commissary to stock up on inexpensive food. The remainder would be taken out at an ATM on base. Cash is untraceable. I could eat and do whatever I wanted without Big Brother watching.

If memory serves, only purchases over $75 require a receipt so that means all the receipts I needed were for airfare and lodging - both of which were done using DTS anyway.

I never considered this dishonest or unethical. The travel allowance is just that - an allowance. It is money coming to me regardless of if a spend it or not. There were some TDYs during which I was unable to do anything but the mission. Once I settled up, I had a credit due on my travel card. That tells me DoD was not interested in taking the unused allowance back.

Absinthe Anecdote
05-21-2015, 02:36 PM
If one wants to talk about government credit card abuse, look at the Impact-cards given to units. I got some really cool gear in the 90s when they became widespread at unit-level supply.

I got so many pair of free boots, multi-tools, cold weather gear, sun glasses and all kinds of other crap. In the 80s the units I was at were miserly with the free gear.

There is a mix, you want your troops to be well equipped, but there is a lot of stuff being sold off and outright stolen with unit Impact-cards.

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 03:18 PM
Yes it does. As someone who had both a govt purchase card several times in the 8 commands i have been at, as well as the PTS card, we had it drumed into us what i can and can't be used for. REGARDLESS of whether you are willing and able to pay back the money. Or are you saying, rules be damned just as long as you can cover the bill.

Cause Perdiem is meant for FOOD and Drink, (non alcoholic), and lodging/travel. NOT looking at titties, drinking beer/spirits, and such.
You want to do that, use your own money.

Per Diem IS your money!!!


Heck every time i have EVER been issued a govt travel/purchase card, i had to sign off on a form understanding where it can/can't be used.

Bos. How exactly do you see visiting a strip club, "Official government purposes"?

I know in the Navy that wouldn't have happened. Unless you were spending your OWN money on your own card.


Yes...we all know there are rules...which is why there is this article in the first place. What we are saying is what's the big deal here? It's not like these guys charged the govt. $1M of taxpayer money...they are only spending money they are entitled to anyway. It is their money. What's the big deal if they used the card in the casino, or at bank...or didn't use it at all and saved the money to buy their wife new titties....either way, they are entitled to the money.

It's got nothing to do with spending govt. money...it's just using a govt. card to get the money you are going to get anyway.


Guess it's that obvious that your argument is a joke.


If you haven't already figured it out by now, garhkal is the village idiot.

^^^What they said

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 03:23 PM
[
If one wants to talk about government credit card abuse, look at the Impact-cards given to units. I got some really cool gear in the 90s when they became widespread at unit-level supply.

I got so many pair of free boots, multi-tools, cold weather gear, sun glasses and all kinds of other crap. In the 80s the units I was at were miserly with the free gear.

There is a mix, you want your troops to be well equipped, but there is a lot of stuff being sold off and outright stolen with unit Impact-cards.

Yes, IMPAC is different...that is actual govt. money...if people were throwing their IMPAC down at the strip club, they should be court martialed.

TSat75
05-21-2015, 05:35 PM
I think I got my first AMEX in '95 or '96. I know my first TDY was to Hondurus and it was with an AMEX. But I also remember going to finance and getting an advance before - maybe I had a TDY before I went south...I'm getting too old to remember now. But I know I tried to use my AMEX in New Mexico at the BX to get some medicine in '97 (allergies) and my card was declined. I took off the medicine and the food "cleared".

As a retiree, I work for a company now that gives us a corporate AMEX. The only two rules are 1) pay it off and 2) if we need you in Chicago tomorrow, you better be in Chicago tomorrow - don't come tell us your card is full. I can use it anywhere.

Pretty simple. I use my card and I pay my card. I have used it to pay for entertainment for clients. I have used it for stuff that isn't "expenseable" - so I just pay it off. We use the card, and we file our receipts. We only get paid what we spend - no per diem (I do miss that about the AF). And what can or cannot be expensed is really a case by case basis. As a PM, I approve the expenses for my developers, and if I see something that shouldn't be expensed to the client (like a bottle of expensive wine for just yourself), then I'll reject it. You put it on your card? I don't care...no problem...but we aren't reimbursing you for it.

The card is for travel - so you don't get stuck and you can get there and get back. As long as you can get there and get back as required, I don't care what you use your card for. But don't tell me you can't make it to your next TDY because your card is over-limit (you spent $2,000, and only got back $1,500, then pay the $500 NOW so you can go again).

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 05:45 PM
I think I got my first AMEX in '95 or '96. I know my first TDY was to Hondurus and it was with an AMEX. But I also remember going to finance and getting an advance before - maybe I had a TDY before I went south...I'm getting too old to remember now. But I know I tried to use my AMEX in New Mexico at the BX to get some medicine in '97 (allergies) and my card was declined. I took off the medicine and the food "cleared".

As a retiree, I work for a company now that gives us a corporate AMEX. The only two rules are 1) pay it off and 2) if we need you in Chicago tomorrow, you better be in Chicago tomorrow - don't come tell us your card is full. I can use it anywhere.

Pretty simple. I use my card and I pay my card. I have used it to pay for entertainment for clients. I have used it for stuff that isn't "expenseable" - so I just pay it off. We use the card, and we file our receipts. We only get paid what we spend - no per diem (I do miss that about the AF). And what can or cannot be expensed is really a case by case basis. As a PM, I approve the expenses for my developers, and if I see something that shouldn't be expensed to the client (like a bottle of expensive wine for just yourself), then I'll reject it. You put it on your card? I don't care...no problem...but we aren't reimbursing you for it.

The card is for travel - so you don't get stuck and you can get there and get back. As long as you can get there and get back as required, I don't care what you use your card for. But don't tell me you can't make it to your next TDY because your card is over-limit (you spent $2,000, and only got back $1,500, then pay the $500 NOW so you can go again).

I have a corporate card...but the bill goes straight to the company and they pay it. I turn in receipts for whatever I put on there.

We do get per diem when we travel...so it complicates the voucher if I purchase meals on the corporate card because they are already separately reimbursed to me whereas the corporate card is paid directly by the company. So...if they are paying me $60 day per diem, and then paying for meals on the card, that would be like a double dipping. Others at my company use the card for meals, but I don't just to reduce the paperwork...I use it for airfare, hotels and anything directly reimbursable (fuel, baggage fees, parking, if I need to buy any parts/supplies, etc.)

garhkal
05-21-2015, 08:54 PM
Then why issue a general purpose card? Hell, per diem is almost $60 a day for meals; and every last person in here is guilty of buying cheap groceries and pocketing the rest. In order to spend $60 a day on food, you'd have to eat $20 meals every time. And I'm sure that you, Mr High and Mighty, have ALWAYS done this when TDY? Because if not, you're just as guilty as the rest of us.


I have never remembered Per diem being that high. BUT i do agree, giving too much does let people game the system (myself included) by pocketing the rest. Which is why i much preferred the old way, where you had to provide the receipts for your expenses. NOT given X amt ahead of time, and what's not used gets pocketed.


Per diem is per diem. It is for food and other expenses, as you say, but I'm not required to spend it all on food, etc. If I get $60 a day but only spend $40 a day on food, etc, the government still pays me the other $20. Should I go eat a 4th meal so as to spend it on what it's for? The don't take what's left over back from me. $60 is $60, no matter how I spend it. $60 is also $60 no matter where it's spent.

Perhaps that is what needs to change them. STOP giving out a flat amt, regardless of how much gets used.
We always hear how the budget can't get balanced. So one way to stop that happening is to stop giving out effectively free money!


I was Army. Are you sure that wouldn't have happen in the Navy? I thought the person they busted was a Navy SEAL?

Not from my experience. I have never remembered having any sort of travel that put me in a Casino. The closest i remember to that was attending a big ECMS conference out in Va beach held at one of the 'pricier' hotels.


If you haven't already figured it out by now, garhkal is the village idiot.

No i am NOT an idiot. I am just one who is wanting to see MORE fiscal responsibility. Especially from those i see consistently harp on fraud elsewhere.



I never considered this dishonest or unethical. The travel allowance is just that - an allowance. It is money coming to me regardless of if a spend it or not. There were some TDYs during which I was unable to do anything but the mission. Once I settled up, I had a credit due on my travel card. That tells me DoD was not interested in taking the unused allowance back.

I keep hearing about people griping about welfare fraud etc. HOW is this not similar?


If one wants to talk about government credit card abuse, look at the Impact-cards given to units. I got some really cool gear in the 90s when they became widespread at unit-level supply.

I got so many pair of free boots, multi-tools, cold weather gear, sun glasses and all kinds of other crap. In the 80s the units I was at were miserly with the free gear.

There is a mix, you want your troops to be well equipped, but there is a lot of stuff being sold off and outright stolen with unit Impact-cards.

Very true AA. When i was in the Seabees, we seemed to get a new pair of boots every 9 months needed or not. And every time we came back from depolyment, we seemed to get issued a new camel back and Gerber (or leatherman).

TSat75
05-21-2015, 09:11 PM
I have stayed in a casino before - our unit was on an exercise in Wendover, NV for a week - and we stayed in a casino hotel, and took a bus back and forth to the site for your shift (day or night). I had day shift so we hung out all night in the Casino. My buddy and I used our travel cards for the rooms and the meals, and we used our own money to gamble with.

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 09:13 PM
I have never remembered Per diem being that high. BUT i do agree, giving too much does let people game the system (myself included) by pocketing the rest.

The rate depends on location. The minimum now (standard rate) is $41 per day. My last TDY was to Colorado Springs where the per diem was $61. Our comany uses the govt. DOD rates.

http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/perdiemCalc.cfm


Which is why i much preferred the old way, where you had to provide the receipts for your expenses. NOT given X amt ahead of time, and what's not used gets pocketed.

There was no such old way. Prior to govt travel cards, you could be given a cash advance...but at least for the last 30+ years you were always given a flat rate per diem whether you spent it or not.

Anyway...there was a time back in the 70s, maybe early 80s where not only were you given a flat rate per diem for food/incidentals...you were also given a flat rate maximum lodging...and you could choose to stay in the Notel Motel and make a small fortune on a long TDY...also rumors and anectdotal stories of Airmen sleeping in the rental car to pocket hotel money. They put a stop to that and now provide only the actual cost of lodging, NTE the maximum. They could do this with per diem also, but people would be pissed, I'm sure.


Perhaps that is what needs to change them. STOP giving out a flat amt, regardless of how much gets used.
We always hear how the budget can't get balanced. So one way to stop that happening is to stop giving out effectively free money!

Actually...there is some TDYs that do this. For retirees/dependents who are traveling for medical (more than 100 miles), Tricare pays only your actual expenses up to the maximum per diem. So, you turn in all your food receipts and get only that....they won't pay you for an alcoholic drink even if it's on your receipt and you don't go over the max.

So, that kind of sucks.

This probably would save some money...but probably won't keep TDY guys out of casinos and strip clubs.


Not from my experience. I have never remembered having any sort of travel that put me in a Casino. The closest i remember to that was attending a big ECMS conference out in Va beach held at one of the 'pricier' hotels.

A conference I went to in Reno was for JDRS--Joint Deficiency Reporting System. Which is a Navy program that was adopted by the other services and became joint. The conference was joint and there most certainly were Navy personnel...in fact, they were the subject matter experts and organized the conference, as I recall.

Anyway...all the attendees were lodged in the casino, all the meetings were held in the casino...they only asked that we not be in uniform if we were gambling. They gave us long 1.5-2 hour lunches so we could run up to the room, change real quick and get in an hour of blackjack during lunch hour.


No i am NOT an idiot. I am just one who is wanting to see MORE fiscal responsibility. Especially from those i see consistently harp on fraud elsewhere.

This isn't fraud though.


I keep hearing about people griping about welfare fraud etc. HOW is this not similar?

Have you ever gotten BAH? BAS? It's the same type of thing. If you don't spend your entire BAS on food one month, say you were visiting your parents and Mom cooked the whole time...have you ever paid it back? No. In fact, you probably couldn't, they wouldn't know what to do with it...you could write a check and donate it back to the Treasury through the IRS, I suppose.

efmbman
05-21-2015, 10:34 PM
I keep hearing about people griping about welfare fraud etc. HOW is this not similar?

Glad you asked! It is fraud is it is determined that one is not entitled to the allowance. Since I was clearly authorized to travel, I am therefore entitled to the allowance. It's really that simple. It does not matter what I do with the allowance. In fact, if I choose to sleep under a bridge and pocket all the allowance, I can do that. If I use my government travel card to pay for lodging, food or items while I am NOT authorized official travel, that would be fraud.

Absinthe Anecdote
05-21-2015, 10:37 PM
[

Yes, IMPAC is different...that is actual govt. money...if people were throwing their IMPAC down at the strip club, they should be court martialed.

It is mostly wasted on buying gear that isn't needed, or even accounted for.

The kind of stuff that shows up in pawn shops and surplus stores.

Rusty Jones
05-21-2015, 11:07 PM
In fact, if I choose to sleep under a bridge and pocket all the allowance, I can do that.

You have to provide lodging receipts. I know this, because I actually wanted to sleep in my car and live off vienna sausages and cold Spaghettios before finding out that I couldn't. I mean, I could, but it wouldn't benefit me financially to do it.

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 11:14 PM
It is mostly wasted on buying gear that isn't needed, or even accounted for.

In Maintenance Squadrons, CE, Trans...and some others. Almost every new Airman is issued a set of steel-toes boots, as they are required safety gear for "heavy lifting" or something.

Many years ago, I wondered about this, and endeavored to submit an AF Form 1000, Suggestion (now IDEA). I did a little research and computed that something like 65% of all Airmen required steel-toe boots.

These had to be purchased separately and issued because standard clothing allowance provided for regular combat boots...

So, my IDEA was to change the standard clothing issue to steel toe boots rather than regular boots. As I recall, they were nearly the same price...but, if everyone got issued steel toe boots (and paid to replace them) as standard clothing, there would be no need to buy 65% of the force a second pair of boots on squadron funds.

It computed up to a lot of money and I thought I was gonna be one of those guys on the AF News getting a great big check.

I think it never made it off base...was locally evaluated, and I don't recall the reason, but they disapproved it as stupid or not amounting to real change or something.

Sooo...the idea is up for grabs if anyone wants it...I'm a contractor and can't get paid for ideas anymore. You would have to re-do the research. A 10% thank-you would be nice, though.

Bos Mutus
05-21-2015, 11:18 PM
You have to provide lodging receipts. I know this, because I actually wanted to sleep in my car and live off vienna sausages and cold Spaghettios before finding out that I couldn't. I mean, I could, but I wouldn't benefit me financially to do it.

Yes, lodging is paid at actual expenses NTE the maximum

sandsjames
05-22-2015, 01:09 AM
You have to provide lodging receipts. I know this, because I actually wanted to sleep in my car and live off vienna sausages and cold Spaghettios before finding out that I couldn't. I mean, I could, but it wouldn't benefit me financially to do it.

Right. There are two parts of per diem. One part is for food/incidentals. The other part is lodging. So the rate may be $120 a day, with the lodging being $75. That means you need the receipt for the $75 but not for the other $45.

sandsjames
05-22-2015, 01:14 AM
In Maintenance Squadrons, CE, Trans...and some others. Almost every new Airman is issued a set of steel-toes boots, as they are required safety gear for "heavy lifting" or something.

Many years ago, I wondered about this, and endeavored to submit an AF Form 1000, Suggestion (now IDEA). I did a little research and computed that something like 65% of all Airmen required steel-toe boots.

These had to be purchased separately and issued because standard clothing allowance provided for regular combat boots...

So, my IDEA was to change the standard clothing issue to steel toe boots rather than regular boots. As I recall, they were nearly the same price...but, if everyone got issued steel toe boots (and paid to replace them) as standard clothing, there would be no need to buy 65% of the force a second pair of boots on squadron funds.

It computed up to a lot of money and I thought I was gonna be one of those guys on the AF News getting a great big check.

I think it never made it off base...was locally evaluated, and I don't recall the reason, but they disapproved it as stupid or not amounting to real change or something.

Sooo...the idea is up for grabs if anyone wants it...I'm a contractor and can't get paid for ideas anymore. You would have to re-do the research. A 10% thank-you would be nice, though.

The steel toe, or EH rated (electrically safe) safety toe boots are absolutely necessary for everyone in those career fields you mentioned and are required. Clothing allowance is not nearly enough to cover the replacement on those (2 to 3 pairs a year, minimum). That's why they get purchased with Sq funds. It's no different than having a fuels guy who needs more replacement uniforms than the allowance covers. Even having the safety boots as the standard clothing allowance would still require extra purchases outside of that.

technomage1
05-22-2015, 06:35 AM
I wish I didn't have to have the GTC. It's more trouble than it's worth. Issue me my plane tickets and pay my voucher to me. It's a much, much simpler process for everyone involved, especially when you factor in the very broken voucher process which can take months to resolve.

garhkal
05-22-2015, 06:45 AM
I have stayed in a casino before - our unit was on an exercise in Wendover, NV for a week - and we stayed in a casino hotel, and took a bus back and forth to the site for your shift (day or night). I had day shift so we hung out all night in the Casino. My buddy and I used our travel cards for the rooms and the meals, and we used our own money to gamble with.

Guess it depends then on which branch you are in. Cause in my 20 years in the navy i never heard of any of our guys and gals having to go to a casino to stay on any mil exercise/meeting/symposium etc..


The rate depends on location. The minimum now (standard rate) is $41 per day. My last TDY was to Colorado Springs where the per diem was $61. Our comany uses the govt. DOD rates.

I do remember that Bos. But in all the times i went TAD, i never remember receiving that high of a Per Diem rate. Highest i do remember was 36/day. Admittedly the last time i went on TAD where i was given it, was in the Seabees back in 2010, when i went out to Camp Pendelton for an exercise our battalion was assisting another battalion with.. IIRC cause we DID get to eat on base, our Per diem was halved the full San diego rate (71 bucks)


Anyway...there was a time back in the 70s, maybe early 80s where not only were you given a flat rate per diem for food/incidentals...you were also given a flat rate maximum lodging...and you could choose to stay in the Notel Motel and make a small fortune on a long TDY...also rumors and anectdotal stories of Airmen sleeping in the rental car to pocket hotel money. They put a stop to that and now provide only the actual cost of lodging, NTE the maximum. They could do this with per diem also, but people would be pissed, I'm sure.

Which is what i feel needs to happen. Just like OHA/BAH. Only pay out for Per diem based on what is actually used.. And unlike with rentals overseas/near bases just jacking up their rental fees to what someone's max based on their rank, i can't see how THAT gets jacked up.


Actually...there is some TDYs that do this. For retirees/dependents who are traveling for medical (more than 100 miles), Tricare pays only your actual expenses up to the maximum per diem. So, you turn in all your food receipts and get only that....they won't pay you for an alcoholic drink even if it's on your receipt and you don't go over the max.

So, that kind of sucks.

This probably would save some money...but probably won't keep TDY guys out of casinos and strip clubs.

So why is it ok for it to be done that way with retirees/dependents, and not full mil folk?


A conference I went to in Reno was for JDRS--Joint Deficiency Reporting System. Which is a Navy program that was adopted by the other services and became joint. The conference was joint and there most certainly were Navy personnel...in fact, they were the subject matter experts and organized the conference, as I recall.

Anyway...all the attendees were lodged in the casino, all the meetings were held in the casino...they only asked that we not be in uniform if we were gambling. They gave us long 1.5-2 hour lunches so we could run up to the room, change real quick and get in an hour of blackjack during lunch hour.

Thanks for the Info Bos. Do you remember what rates were there and when this was? Cause i have never even heard of this JDRS before you mentioned it.



Have you ever gotten BAH? BAS? It's the same type of thing. If you don't spend your entire BAS on food one month, say you were visiting your parents and Mom cooked the whole time...have you ever paid it back? No. In fact, you probably couldn't, they wouldn't know what to do with it...you could write a check and donate it back to the Treasury through the IRS, I suppose.

I did try several times to get them to NOT give me the full amt cause i was using a lesser amt. BUT after keeping getting paid the full amt, i just gave up trying to get it done.


I think it never made it off base...was locally evaluated, and I don't recall the reason, but they disapproved it as stupid or not amounting to real change or something.

Out of my 20 years i remember 8 times someone submitting one of those "Ideas" to give the govt a cheaper way to do things. NOT ONE to my knowledge made it out of our command.. All cause someone higher up shut it down.

Bos Mutus
05-22-2015, 02:20 PM
Guess it depends then on which branch you are in. Cause in my 20 years in the navy i never heard of any of our guys and gals having to go to a casino to stay on any mil exercise/meeting/symposium etc..

I do remember that Bos. But in all the times i went TAD, i never remember receiving that high of a Per Diem rate. Highest i do remember was 36/day. Admittedly the last time i went on TAD where i was given it, was in the Seabees back in 2010, when i went out to Camp Pendelton for an exercise our battalion was assisting another battalion with.. IIRC cause we DID get to eat on base, our Per diem was halved the full San diego rate (71 bucks)

Which is what i feel needs to happen. Just like OHA/BAH. Only pay out for Per diem based on what is actually used.. And unlike with rentals overseas/near bases just jacking up their rental fees to what someone's max based on their rank, i can't see how THAT gets jacked up.

So why is it ok for it to be done that way with retirees/dependents, and not full mil folk?

I'm not saying it's "not okay" to pay mil folk that way...just not how it is. It could be changed and would save some money for the govt.


Thanks for the Info Bos. Do you remember what rates were there and when this was? Cause i have never even heard of this JDRS before you mentioned it.

It was around 2009...most were probably SNCOs, maybe some E-6s. I imagine the system had a different name before it went joint and became the J in JDRS.

http://www.jdrs.mil/


I did try several times to get them to NOT give me the full amt cause i was using a lesser amt. BUT after keeping getting paid the full amt, i just gave up trying to get it done.

LOL....yeah, the services have no way of taking the money back, no way to process it....but, all is not lost, like I said, you can send a check t othe IRS and they will take it as a donation.


Out of my 20 years i remember 8 times someone submitting one of those "Ideas" to give the govt a cheaper way to do things. NOT ONE to my knowledge made it out of our command.. All cause someone higher up shut it down.

I've had quite a few approved...but all small dollar stuff, like $125 for T.O. changes...

Bos Mutus
05-22-2015, 02:30 PM
So why is it ok for it to be done that way with retirees/dependents, and not full mil folk?
.

...well, the cut back on some at least :-)

http://archive.navytimes.com/article/20141011/BENEFITS02/310110029/New-travel-pay-rates-mean-less-money-TDY

garhkal
05-22-2015, 09:46 PM
I've had quite a few approved...but all small dollar stuff, like $125 for T.O. changes...

While not a 'money saving scheme in the line of gettng new suppliers etc, i DID come up with one idea for cost savings by implementing an actual Desktop PC cleaning/filter replacement program for NSA/NTCT Bahrain that was accepted back in 2000-2001.. Don't know though if they kept it up after i left.

Mata Leao
05-26-2015, 02:26 PM
All my meals were at the Casino on the card. It was such a pain in the ass explaining to my RA when I returned. Had to turn in all sorts of paperwork to prove why I was at a casino instead of a Motel 6. Either way, shouldn't have mattered. It was my per diem. Even if it wasn't, it was paid off immediately.

How did that argument go for you? Sometimes people (like the RA) can't think outside the military bubble.
I agree it should matter. If you have $XX.xx for per diem, and you stay within budget, shouldn't matter where you stay. And from your story, I would think billeting put you up at the casino. Sometimes I loath the military thinking and kick myself when I catch myself thinking that way.