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15/03/2003 | Give Him Credit?

Martin Edwin Andersen

Will somebody important please get Karl Rove on the phone at the White House and call Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon? Both should know about this one and do something about it fast.

 

On Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) received a letter from Army Secretary Thomas White, a former top executive at Enron, saying that an official who oversees the Army credit-card program is slated to get a presidential merit award and a $25,000 cash bonus.

Grassley and former congressman Steve Horn (R-Calif.) have been at the forefront of exposing government credit-card abuse and mismanagement. Recent efforts have centered on the military, where the volume of credit cards and the number of abuses have presented significant problems. Last month, Grassley questioned the then-rumored presidential merit award for Ernest Gregory, who has responsibility over Army credit-card programs. After White confirmed that Gregory would indeed receive the honor, Grassley let loose, saying: "I'm very disappointed. This is the latest in a series of examples of the Pentagon's failure to hold people accountable for their actions."

According to the powerful Iowa conservative: "The Army says Mr. Gregory is not 'directly responsible' for credit-card programs, but he 'provides executive oversight' of the travel-card program. The General Accounting Office completed a very thorough review of Army credit-card programs in June 2002, uncovering widespread fraud and abuse and giving the Army a grade of 'F' for management.

"That's not a success story. It's gross mismanagement. And someone at the Pentagon has to accept responsibility for that instead of circling the wagons and giving out awards to those with 'oversight' of a program where the wheels fell off."

How would you like to be White when Rove and Rumsfeld hear about this one? As former Senate majority leader Bob Dole said of White a couple of months ago: "This guy's political ear is apparently made of tin!"

Martin Edwin Andersen is a reporter for Insight.

Insight Magazine (Estados Unidos)

 


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