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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, May 04, 2007

Federal workers taking taxpayers for a ride

Federal employees who sell government-funded transit passes are taking taxpayers for a ride

The government spends about $250 million annually to provide transit passes to 300,000 federal employees nationally. The program is meant to encourage the use of public transportation and to cut down on fuel use, air pollution and traffic congestion. But a congressional report has revealed instances of federal employees who, rather than using the transit passes, have instead illegally sold them over the Internet.1

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported this week that federal employees have been ripping off the government’s commuter program for millions of dollars—$17 million in Washington, DC, alone. Under the program, federal employees receive benefit vouchers that cover their commuting costs to and from work. However, some federal workers have been overstating the cost of their commute, while others sell their vouchers at a discount on Ebay and then carpool, and still others, who no longer or never did work for the federal government, continue receiving vouchers. Witness the glories of bureaucracy.2

The GAO says that in just three days investigators found 58 online sales offers for the transit passes and confirmed that at least 20 of them had been posted by federal employees. Selling the passes is illegal, the GAO says.3

A Commerce Department employee received transit passes for five years after she quit working for the government. And one federally employed couple netted $6,000 through 61 online sales.4

The main problem is that there are no government wide controls for the program and virtually no oversight in the agencies themselves, the GAO says.5

This is ridiculous, not to mention outrageous.

Only now are common-sense recommendations being suggested.6

Congress should demand that strict fraud controls are enacted across the government, and federal agencies must heed the GAO's findings and refuse to tolerate this illegal practice.7

Confirming a worker’s government employment is a good start. Logical next steps include providing individual employees with either free parking or with mass-transit vouchers—not both—and, finally, verifying a worker’s travel expenses.8


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