A $1.1 million desktop printer? IG finds big mistakes in Army property books audit
Stars and Stripes June 28, 2022
The price was wrong at U.S. military bases in Kuwait.
The Army’s property books were off by millions of dollars, the Defense Department Inspector General said in a report released Monday.
Among the errors were 82 printers worth $412 apiece listed as being worth $1.1 million each, the report said. A simulator for the base fire department worth $499,950 was listed at $36.3 million in the Army’s databases.
And an Army property book officer told auditors he erroneously listed 17 refrigerators worth $24,170 each at $652,606 per unit.
A lack of accountability skewed the costs provided to a base operations and security support contractor, and the Army’s sloppy bookkeeping on just one aspect of a contract at the two bases may be off by as much as $48 million, the report said.
The audit investigated the Army’s oversight on a contract for Area Support Group-Kuwait at Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring.
The auditors compared the property books held by the military and by the contractor, which wasn’t named in the report. Both the military and the contractor are supposed to track how much government property is supplied.
But the contractor’s records included at least 23,374 more items of government property than the military was tracking, the report said, adding that unaccounted items could have been lost or stolen without the Army’s knowledge.
The contractor said it had losses of $13.5 million worth of equipment over the last 11 years. The military’s acquisition rules say that contractors must inform the government when property given to them is lost, stolen or destroyed.
But without accurate records, the Army cannot verify whether the contractor is telling the truth about how much government property was lost in Kuwait, the report said.
Auditors found one of the printers at a contractor’s staff apartment outside Camp Arifjan, despite language in the contract saying that someone from the military would have to give approval for it to leave the base, the report said.
“The Army’s lack of accountability and oversight of location of the (item) allowed the contractor to take the printer off base without detection,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the government’s property records overstated the costs of what it was providing contractors by $48.3 million, the report said.
The Army maintains a database of its property with information about how much each item costs and a description. But items considered “nonstandard” must be manually added into the system, the report said.
The Army official in charge of managing the property books said he put the wrong total into the database on several items, the report said.
It’s possible that other items manually typed into the Army’s databases by other property book managers around the world are also incorrect, the report said.
The report recommended that Area Support Group-Kuwait, which did not have policies to correct errors found in the property records, create those processes.
Before the audit, the property book officer didn’t obtain records from the contractor to identify any discrepancies, the report said.
Area Support Group-Kuwait agreed with the recommendations but argued that there was no loss of property and that they actually had 100% accountability.
Government property when given to contractors often disappears from the Pentagon’s property and financial systems, leading to incomplete financial records.
The military identified the issue as a problem as far back as 2011, and has said it would try to find a fix by fiscal year 2026, the report said.