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Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 02:00 GMT 03:00 UK
Huge fraud at the Pentagon
A pizza
Many personal items were bought
By Rob Watson in Washington

A United States Congressional investigation has uncovered spectacular fraud by Pentagon employees using government-issued credit cards.

The amounts of money involved are quite staggering.

Last year alone, according to investigators, Pentagon employees went on a $9bn dollar shopping spree, some of it blatantly fraudulent.

Shopping spree included:
DVD players
Furniture
Jewellry, clothing
Pet supplies
Night club visits
Pizza
Military personnel apparently used government credit cards to buy pizzas, personal computers and furniture.

One army soldier is said to have spent over $3,000 on six visits to some decidedly downmarket nightclubs.

All in all, there are said to have been 500 cases of fraudulent purchases by military personnel in the last two years.

Efficiency drive

The Pentagon, along with other parts of the federal government, started issuing credit cards to employees in the 1990s.

It did so to eliminate bureaucratic red tape to make purchasing more efficient.

Despite this public relations disaster, Pentagon officials have been defending the practice.

They say the idea should not be judged only by the instances of fraud.

But Congressmen are fuming.


There are no controls, no responsibilities, and no accountability

Senator Charles Grassley
One Senator said issuing credit cards to almost two million Pentagon employees was like giving people the keys to the federal treasury.

Congress is expected to take up the issue on Monday - when sparks are sure to fly.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Watson
"The amounts of money involved are quite staggering"
See also:

03 May 01 | Americas
Pentagon 'blunder' on China ties
08 Mar 01 | Americas
Pentagon report blasts US weapons
06 Dec 00 | Americas
US diplomat quits after security row
02 May 01 | Americas
US rejects 'Made in China' berets
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