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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is demanding accountability from the Pentagon after a watchdog report revealed employees may have misspent millions of dollars in taxpayer money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Defense (DOD) officials between March 2020 and January 2022 used Government Purchase Cards (GPCs) for 110,525 purchases, 43,396 of which the DOD Inspector General (IG) estimates employees inappropriately justified as pandemic-related expenses. Federal emergency appropriations such as CARES Act funding covered a portion of the total purchases at issue, and approximately 57,466 orders lack proper documentation, raising the risk of additional unsupported purchases.

“When it comes to catching fraud, DOD’s internal controls are a complete failure. We’ve known it for decades, and this is the latest example,” Grassley said of his oversight push. “The pandemic presented unique challenges that CARES Act funding and other appropriations helped address, but irresponsible accounting at the Pentagon allowed individuals to exploit a crisis and improperly pass off millions in purchases as COVID-19-related. DOD ought to tighten its controls and show better regard for taxpayer dollars.”

In addition to items like musical equipment, dry-erase markers and dental supplies, employees across several military branches improperly reported the following as COVID-19 expenses: Plumbing services ($2,394); vehicle repair ($1,395.77); cybersecurity training courses ($23,400); lab chemical supplies ($28,857); and Nordic skiing machines and floor stands ($4,158).

Within the IG report are three recommendations for DOD to improve its financial management. Grassley is requesting the Pentagon outline the steps it’s taking to implement those recommendations. He’s also asking questions to fully determine the nature and extent of CARES Act abuse via DOD employees’ GPC purchases.

Read Grassley’s full letter HERE.


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