GAO affirms FBI investigation of alleged travel voucher abuse

FBI and Justice Department officials conducted a thorough and fair internal investigation into alleged misconduct by senior agents involving false travel vouchers, according to the General Accounting Office. At the request of the Senate Judiciary Committee, GAO reviewed the FBI's investigation into an October 1997 incident involving eight members of the Senior Executive Service who allegedly submitted false travel vouchers to cover expenses to a retirement party for former FBI Assistant Director Larry Potts. GAO concluded that the FBI punished three of the agents involved in an appropriate manner and addressed employee concerns about a double standard in the agency's disciplinary policy. The congressional watchdog agency also determined that the FBI was unaware of any employees traveling on the government's dime to Washington last June to attend former FBI Director Louis Freeh's retirement events. Of the eight SES employees investigated, the FBI issued letters of censure to three, including the training division's section chief. The section chief was accused of improperly scheduling a conference in Quantico, Va., to provide an excuse for agents to travel to Potts' retirement party. The FBI disciplined him for "failing to exercise proper administrative oversight" of the Oct. conference, according to GAO. Two SESers retired before getting their letters of censure. In August 2000, then-FBI Director Freeh created a single disciplinary system for all FBI employees to replace the two separate systems for SES and non-SES employees, in response to an agency ethics study. The total cost to the government for travel associated with Potts' retirement dinner was $3,217, according to GAO. The FBI agreed with GAO's findings.
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