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FEMA employees issued credit cards $250,000 limit

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  • FEMA employees issued credit cards $250,000 limit

    Here Is Your New Federal Credit Card. Here Is Your New Purchase Limit.

    NYT Published: September 18, 2005

    THE government buys everything from warships to paper clips, the latter being an example of a ''micropurchase.''

    Before this month, micropurchasing with government-issued credit cards meant anything up to $2,500 on a single shopping trip, with certain purchases relating to homeland security
    allowed to reach $15,000 domestically and $25,000 abroad.

    On Sept. 8, the definition of ''micro'' was stretched, by quite a bit. When Congress approved $51.8 billion in Katrina relief, the ceiling on individual purchases with the cards ballooned to $250,000. Overall credit limits can be much greater.

    The thought of individual employees able to charge up to a quarter-million dollars per trip with only the plastic in their wallets, directly payable by Uncle Sam, has government watchdogs agog.

    ''I am astounded,'' said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that monitors waste and fraud. ''This is theoretically a fiscally
    conservative Republican Congress. I don't get it.''


    Last week, the Office of Management and Budget issued guidelines for the newly generous cards, to rein in possible misuse. ''This guidance helps make sure that adequate anagement controls are in place to ensure that taxpayers' dollars are spent efficiently and responsibly,'' said David H. Safavian, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator.

    The last few years have produced a series of blistering reports on waste and fraud in various federal agencies, much of it via purchase cards.

    An audit by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's parent, found that FEMA granted almost $31 million in relief to Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Frances passed by last year, even though the area experienced minimal damage, akin to that from a thunderstorm. FEMA gave thousands in rental assistance to residents even though they did not qualify because they had insurance, their homes were not damaged, or they didn't ask for the aid.

    The agency provided money to replace or repair furniture, televisions and appliances based on the value of a fully furnished room, not actual damages. It didn't check applicants' claims for accuracy; inspections, if any, were often rushed.

    In 2002, testimony to Congress by a procurement administrator listed many problems with cards:

    1,116 employees retained active purchase and travel cards after they left their jobs.

    6,533 cardholders were able to spend up to $100,000 a month; 40 had a credit limit of $9,999,999.

    A Defense Department report found more than $4 million in unjustifiable purchases, including some at antique shops and jewelry stores.


    THE cards came into being in 1989 to streamline micropurchases by government workers, transforming reams of paperwork into quick electronic transactions.

    An archived 1990's Web site touting the proposed changes gave an example of a government worker who would benefit from speedier shopping with her card: a forest ranger needing 75 shovels in time for fire season.

    Now, suddenly, the credit limit is approaching the average price of an American home.

    A few senators, notably Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, are alarmed at the spike in purchasing power, even with the O.M.B. guidelines. Mr. Grassley has called the quarter-million-dollar upper limit outrageous and has proposed reducing it to $50,000, unless there is written approval from a supervisor. The new law would also require audits of the largest purchases and impose a six-month limit on the credit increase, after which the amounts would revert to their pre-Katrina limits. The law passed on Sept. 8 has no expiration date.

    There were about 325,000 such cards in 2003, used for $16 billion in purchases. Their circulation peaked in 2000, when the number of federal workers with cards matched the population of New Orleans: about 500,000.

    Or more. Some government estimates have the cards peaking at about 700,000 -- a discrepancy that probably can't be resolved, said Ms. Brian of the Project on Government Oversight: No one fully kept track of how many cards were issued.

    ''Credit Card Limits For Government Workers''
    Original limit for single purchase -- $2,500
    Limit for homeland security -- $7,500
    For defense or recovery from terror attacks: Domestic -- $15,000
    For defense or recovery from terror attacks: Abroad -- $25,000
    New purchase limit -- New purchase limit
    Senator Grassley proposal -- $50,000

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What may have started out as good intensions -- "An archived 1990's Web site touting the proposed changes gave an example of a government worker who would benefit from speedier shopping with her card: a forest ranger needing 75 shovels in time for fire season."-- turns into this monster.

    With more laws like this, thanks to Congress, trillion dollar deficits will soon be on the horizon.
    Norman Chad, syndicated columnist: “Sports radio, reflecting our sinking culture, spends entire days advising managers and coaches, berating managers and coaches, firing managers and coaches and searching the countryside for better middle relievers. If they just redirected their energy toward, say, crosswalk-signal maintenance, America would be 2 percent more livable.”

    "The best argument against democracy," someone (Churchill?) said, "is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

  • #2
    The looting that people will remember in 10 years will be the guys stealing shoes and jerseys from a sporting goods store in NO.

    The big stuff will be wiped under the carpet.
    No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true
    President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

    I'm a war president
    President George W. Bush, February 8, 2004

    Comment


    • #3
      QUOTE(mw.2 @ Sep 27 2005, 08:47 AM) Quoted post

      The looting that people will remember in 10 years will be the guys stealing shoes and jerseys from a sporting goods store in NO.

      The big stuff will be wiped under the carpet.
      [/b][/quote]

      QUOTE
      Like looters who seize six televisions when their homes have room for only two, the Louisiana legislators are out to grab more federal cash than they could possibly spend usefully. . . . The Louisiana delegation has apparently devoted little thought to the root causes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans was flooded not because the Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient money to build flood protections, but because its money was allocated by a system of political patronage.

      [/b][/quote]
      Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

      Comment


      • #4
        QUOTE
        Michael Brown still working for FEMA

        (3:20)
        CNN has learned that the former head of emergency agency is investigating the agency response to Hurricane Katrina. (September 26)[/b][/quote]
        No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true
        President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

        I'm a war president
        President George W. Bush, February 8, 2004

        Comment


        • #5
          Chris Shays just blasted Boobie Brown at the hearings. Told him he was glad that he (Brown) was gone. Brown is pointing his finger at the mayor and governer and claiming that he performed admirably.
          Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law ~

          A.C.

          Comment


          • #6
            QUOTE(bombay @ Sep 27 2005, 10:57 AM) Quoted post

            Chris Shays just blasted Boobie Brown at the hearings. Told him he was glad that he (Brown) was gone. Brown is pointing his finger at the mayor and governer and claiming that he performed admirably.
            [/b][/quote]
            "Who do you think I am, Superman? I can't swoop in and rescue all those people @ one time."

            Lordy...

            "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
            Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
            -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

            Comment


            • #7
              QUOTE(*007* @ Sep 27 2005, 10:06 AM) Quoted post

              QUOTE(bombay @ Sep 27 2005, 10:57 AM) Quoted post

              Chris Shays just blasted Boobie Brown at the hearings. Told him he was glad that he (Brown) was gone. Brown is pointing his finger at the mayor and governer and claiming that he performed admirably.
              [/b][/quote]
              "Who do you think I am, Superman? I can't swoop in and rescue all those people @ one time."

              Lordy...
              [/b][/quote]

              It would be great to clear out the whole rat's nest inside the beltway and start over.


              [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/martz.gif[/img]
              Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law ~

              A.C.

              Comment


              • #8
                As I predicted in the Katrina thread, nothing will change as a result of any of the issues that arose from the hurricane.

                I actually didn't think it'd get worse.

                There are more people who are willing to sacrifice the good of their countrymen by stealing money for their new country homes and nice cars than I could guess.
                No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true
                President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

                I'm a war president
                President George W. Bush, February 8, 2004

                Comment


                • #9
                  QUOTE(mw.2 @ Sep 27 2005, 10:13 AM) Quoted post

                  I actually didn't think it'd get worse.
                  [/b][/quote]

                  This is by far the most corrupt administration ever. Hands down.

                  The former governor of Connecticut, John Rowland, is in federal prison for "theft of honest service". His buddies were basically running a racketeering operation out of his office. It was evident in his budget priorities through two full terms.

                  Bush makes him look like an angel.
                  Damn these electric sex pants!

                  26+31+34+42+44+46+64+67+82+06 = 10

                  Bring back the death penalty for corporations!

                  Comment

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