Defence staff spend $3.3m on country clubs, golf fees

SOME staff at the Department of Defence spent $3.3 million on country clubs, sports memberships, golf course fees and entertainment on official purchasing cards over three years to June last year.

An Australian National Audit Office audit of the department's issuing of and staff use of credit, travel and purchasing cards and Cabcharge e-tickets from July 2012 to June 2015 was released late last week.

The audit found staff had spent some $3.3 million in 1900 transactions using purchasing cards on "merchant category 7997", which includes "clubs, country clubs, membership (athletic, recreation, sports), private golf clubs, entertainment".

A block on some staff's travel cards failed to work, with 24 travel card transactions worth more than $15,000 on the same merchant category.

The audit revealed Defence staff spent about $1.5billion on some of the 100,000 cards issued during the three years to June last year.

Some staff were overcharging on fuel cards and 303 Cabcharge e-ticket accounts were opened by staff without authorisation.

Some $16 million was spent on 261,158 taxi trips charged to e-tickets during the three-year period, including 100 single trips charged to e-tickets costing taxpayers between $425 and $820.

The audit also found staff were using e-tickets, instead of the recommended travel card, for taxi fares as it was seen as easier to use, despite the department being aware of concerns about the e-tickets' greater potential for misuse.

It also found staff had used the e-ticket to charge taxpayers for some 1263 taxi trips taken between 1am and 4am - "small hours" travel - after excluding trips to or from an airport.

"Defence has not systematically monitored or managed activity on Cabcharge accounts," the audit reads.

The audit also found the controls on spending on fuel cards were "ineffective", and that more than $35 million was spent on fuel card purchases "without any verification process" with a "significant" potential for misuse.

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