MOD Staff Still Abusing Credit Cards?

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
The Guardian is carrying a story that the Public Accounts Committee has found evidence of widespread inappropriate use of GPC cards for small items of personal entertainment.

Ministry of Defence staff 'used official credit cards in bars and golf clubs' | UK news | The Guardian

Ministry of Defence staff 'used official credit cards in bars and golf clubs'

Public accounts committee says spending by MoD military and civilian staff is 'questionable' and calls for tighter controls.

Military and civilian staff at the Ministry of Defence appear to have spent tens of thousands of pounds in bars, restaurants and golf clubs using government credit cards that are only supposed to be used for official purposes, a parliamentary report reveals.

MPs on the public accounts committee (PAC) said the spending last year was "questionable" and have ordered the MoD to adopt tighter controls and oversight to stop potential abuses.

The committee criticised complacency across Whitehall over the use of government procurement cards, which are issued to officials in all departments. It has called for new rules to improve accountability and a ban on buying alcohol.

The use of five-star hotels should also be restricted. According to Friday's report, £322m was spent on the cards last year, of which 74% came from the MoD.

The department admitted it does "not operate a system of 100% checks", and may scrutinise only 5% of purchases. It also told the committee that a contractor had been issued with a card, and that it was not sure exactly how many others had been handed out to civil servants who were not permanent staff. Jon Thompson, the MoD's director general of finance, said five people had been prosecuted in the past four years for credit card abuses.

Margaret Hodge, the committee's chair, said a sample of MoD spending appeared to be a "pretty shocking list of relatively small amounts" at golf clubs, hotels and bars.

In December last year, more than £20,000 was spent under the categories of restaurants, bars and leisure activities. This included three sums of £3,400 spent in the runup to Christmas. This was put down as "group booking – operational". Another sum of £1,138 was paid in December 2011 for the hire of a swimming pool, and £1,220 was spent on "bars, taverns, lounges, discos". The official reason for the spending was "accommodation for pre-deployment training".

"The Ministry of Defence's published expenditure in December 2011 lists a number of transactions in golf clubs, hotels, restaurants and bars," the PAC report says. "This is not necessarily fraud but it is questionable expenditure. The sampling approach, which could mean that as little as 5% of transactions are checked, means that the Ministry of Defence cannot provide us with adequate assurance that these transactions represent a legitimate use of public funds."
Given that money is tight for all organisations, you have to query why better checks and controls are not in place. The money being spent inappropriately here could have been better spent on other MOD activities.

( I know that I can put hotels and meals on my credit card. I also know I'd get disciplined or fired if I put a night out on it in defiance of my company's guidelines).

Wordsmith
 
#2
Public Accounts Committe of MPs say some MOD expenses are 'questionable'

thats one hell of a large pot alleging someone has a black arse!
 
#3
Public Accounts Committe of MPs say some MOD expenses are 'questionable'

thats one hell of a large pot alleging someone has a black arse!
Surely you are not suggesting that it's wrong to have your duck house renovated at public expense? Doesn't everyone do that?
 
#4
Notwithstanding the outrageous duplicity of MPs commenting on matters of questionable financial shenanigans with the public purse, I'm rather surprised that there's a lack of oversight in MoD. In my particular corner of Whitehall there's (correctly) properly stringent oversight of all GPC card expenditure. I've used mine for accommodation, business class flights and numerous other expenses, all which at first glance look like I'm gadavanting around the planet on a tax payer's funded jolly. But, on closer inspection, it's all work related stuff. I think a lot of the issue is down to the reasons stated when submitting the claim. It tends to be not too deep on actual detail and reference on the task that is being funded.

GPC cards are a very good way of subverting the grindingly slow procurement process, and in my particular department, correctly audited.
PS. No alcohol allowed to be purchased as part of subsistence, and rightly so, although I know that a sister organisation allows one alcoholic beverage per evening meal, which in my opinion is wholly wrong. Of you want a beer, or two, pay for it yourself.
 
D

Deleted 20555

Guest
#5
Gosh it's like having one's own 3rd world corrupt ministry being in charge of billions!!!
 
#6
I don't even trust myself with a credit card and yet the Civil Service hands out GPCs like confetti.

B
 
#7
Why do people take the risk and abuse the GPC? Multiply the chances of getting caught by the result of getting caught and you have your answer - nothing. You might get a verbal warning or, if your boss knows where to find the Civil Service Code online, a written warning, but you would have to have a boss who gave the slightest f*ck in the first place!
 
#8
.... The money being spent inappropriately here could have been better spent on other MOD activities....
Indeed. Unfortunately, you seem to assume that all theses monies have been spent inappropriately, whereas that may not be the case. My lot have often spent six-figure sums on hotels, drinks included, none of it inappropriate, and sometimes the only practical way for the taxpayer to pick up the tab is to put it on the GPC.
 
#9
I've used mine for accommodation, business class flights and numerous other expenses, all which at first glance look like I'm gadavanting around the planet on a tax payer's funded jolly. But, on closer inspection, it's all work related stuff.
So it is a tax payer funded jolly then ;)
 
#10
I don't even trust myself with a credit card and yet the Civil Service hands out GPCs like confetti.

B
Must have changed since I was in. We had about three of the things for a whole Brigade Headquarters and every single line was closely audited by the very scary BUDMAN who seemed to run the HQ as much as the Commander did...
 
#11
PS. No alcohol allowed to be purchased as part of subsistence, and rightly so, although I know that a sister organisation allows one alcoholic beverage per evening meal, which in my opinion is wholly wrong. Of you want a beer, or two, pay for it yourself.
I was under the impression we could claim for one alcoholic drink with lunch/dinner?

03.0118. Guidelines for DS Meals. DS enables an individual to be reimbursed for actual, receipted costs for subsistence expenditure whilst on duty away from home, ie the costs of eating and drinking incurred, up to the DS capped limit (see Chapter 1 Section 6). Should an individual choose, out of personal preference, to spend more than the DS limit, then they are required to fund personally this additional expenditure themselves. A DS claim may include an alcoholic drink.
 
#13
Comes under 'can but not approved of' in my little corner of the world.
Interesting. Having spent a few weeks with MOD CS in foreign climes where they were stacking up the beers on the bar on a nightly basis and brazenly stating on multiple occasions that they were going to claim the lot back, I would suggest that is not the case in all corners of the department.

When I challenged them on this at the time their response was 'Well, we need to establish the full cost of the project'.
 
#14
When I challenged them on this at the time their response was 'Well, we need to establish the full cost of the project'.
It is that kind of selfless devotion to the task which makes me admire the British Civil Servant. Burra Pegs all round :wink:
 
#17
I do love the way that people assume that not one single member of HM Forces holds a GPC, and that only the CS do.
 
#18
I do love the way that people assume that not one single member of HM Forces holds a GPC, and that only the CS do.
Please Sir, get with the Daily Wail programme!

Repeat after me:

"All Service personnel are heros and paragons of infinate virtue doing without kit because all the gold plated MOD CS scum are spending all the money"

Bit like the Lt Cdr who despite losing two very good and long serving people from his cell because of the cuts still puts in for a wardrobe to hang his clothes in at work 'because he can'.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
The thing that worries me is that if the MOD is as apparently lax as this over expenses, what are their cost controls on major projects like?

My company - a large multinational has a simple and effective expenses system:

-- The software systems know my name, job role and grade.
-- If I travel on business, it knows the daily rates for expenses I'm allowed to incur.
-- It can thus work out the total costs I should incur for the trip + the allowable totals for each category of expenditure.
-- When I return I enter my expenses into the software system, assigning each item of expenditure to a specific category.
-- My expenses are then automatically sent to my manager for approval. Anything over the allowable limits is flagged up.
-- My manager will then query any excess expenditure with me - and can potentially disallow anything above the limit.

It's all done through a software system, so its very efficient to run. Its also typical for large companies.

You have to ask why the MOD doesn't have a similar system. They're available off the shelf.

Wordsmith
 
#20
Wordsmith
the MOD does have a system - it works very well. Its based on Oracle, and requires me to input information. I cannot claim for accommodation without providing a reference number to show the hotel was booked at an approved rate through the accommodation booking office. If my expenditure on any category goes over a predetermined limit, it will either refuse the claim, or flag up for higher investigation.
The other point as well is that in order to save money, travel requires prior approval - in other words, I cannot travel or conduct any form of activity without it being pre-approved at 1* level. This requires me to judge in advance my expenditure, and if it comes in over the limit, then my management chain will want to know why.
The checks and balances are there, its just that the media dont like talking about them because it implies that the MOD may be doing something right.
 

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