Where Does the Money Go?

It’s all too easy to get carried away with our credit cards. But not everyone charges for lingerie, booze, and online dating—and leaves the taxpayer with the tab. That’s just what federal employees have been doing regularly, according to a March audit by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

Federal workers spent roughly $18 billion in 2007 using credit cards and checks that are issued to conduct legitimate government business. One NASA employee bought a pair of expensive iPods meant to store data, even though much cheaper devices are available. A U.S. Forest Service employee was found to have given $640,000 in checks meant for government use to her boyfriend-money he spent on gambling and car and mortgage payments. (She was sentenced to 21 months in prison.) One U.S. Postal Service worker charged the government $1,100 to cruise online dating sites, and another threw a dinner for 81 at a steak house in Orlando, charging $13,500 to tax-payers, including $3,000 in alcohol. Something to remember next time you buy postage stamps.

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