United States Air Force

IRS Could Reduce Abuse of Travel Cards, Watchdog Says

Controls are largely effective, but punishments 'often lenient.'

The Internal Revenue Service has in place an effective regime for monitoring employee use of payment cards during official travel, an audit found, but the agency could improve methods for identifying misuse by individuals and could beef up punishments for abusers.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in a report released Wednesday found that the delinquency rate for individual employee payments on travel card balances rose from 1.74 percent in early fiscal 2010 to 4.15 percent in late 2011. It found that the agency’s tracking tools for uncovering abuse “are designed effectively but do not include a control to identify personal use of travel cards.” In addition, the report found, “disciplinary actions for travel card misuse were often lenient and did not result in a reevaluation of background clearances.”

TIGTA found that “hundreds of cardholders with evidence of significant financial problems, including insufficient funds checks or suspended and charged-off accounts, were not referred for reevaluation of national security clearances and background checks.” Inspector General J. Russell George said in a statement, “As its mission includes requiring taxpayers to pay taxes owed on time and voluntarily, the IRS should take further steps to address employees who do not voluntarily pay their travel card bills on time.”

The IRS uses a handbook of procedures for training managers and other employees nationwide in proper use of the travel cards, which, under an arrangement made by the Treasury Department, are issued by Citibank.

IRS managers generally agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations for tightening controls.

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