Office Refurbishing, Use of a Government Vehicle and Driver, and Out-of-Town Travel by the Former Administrator of VA

HRD-83-10: Published: Jan 18, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 18, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the following activities by a former Administrator of Veterans Affairs: office refurbishing; security upgrading; transfer of furniture to the Department of Commerce; use of a Government vehicle and driver; and out-of-town travel.

GAO found that Veterans Administration (VA) officials were apparently unaware of a Presidential directive that appointees avoid unnecessary expenditures in setting up their offices. About $58,200 was spent to refurbish the offices of the former Administrator and his staff. The VA Inspector General found that a large portion of the expenditures were not justified in light of this directive and GAO concurred. In addition, VA spent $43,025 to improve the security of the Administrator's office area and transferred furniture to the Department of Commerce without determining that the furniture was not needed by VA personnel and without following prescribed regulations on reporting and transferring excess property. Further, in violation of appropriation act restrictions, the former Administrator routinely used a Government vehicle and driver for comuting; and GAO found no valid reason to reimburse the former Administrator for the driver's pay. Finally, the former Administrator and his assistant took 14 trips on which they used first-class air accommodations without written justification. If the absence of the required documentation had been noted by VA finance personnel when the first travel voucher was processed, the former Administrator could have included a justification for first-class travel on his trips. In addition, GAO found that the former Administrator's use of military aircraft on one occasion was not in the interest of efficiency or economy. GAO found that similar activities have been engaged in by the previous VA administrator and other agencies.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Senators Proxmire and Cranston wrote to the OMB Director on January 28, 1983, recommending that OMB take actions to accomplish the GAO recommendations.

    Matter: Congress should consider defining the term "personal chauffeur" and clarifying the fuel mileage criteria in future Department of Housing and Urban Development-Independent Agencies Appropriation Act language.


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