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STUTTGART, Germany — Members of the U.S. European Command violated procedures 59 percent of the time while using government purchase cards, according to a sampling published June 24 by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office.

In the audit of 278 transactions, 123 were cited for insufficient documentation, 40 for improper use and one for abuse. The flawed transactions were valued at $133,246.

The sample of 278 purchases covered only seven percent of the total number of purchases made by EUCOM personnel during the 13-month period ending April 2007.

The audit also found that EUCOM inappropriately retained in its inventory 3,349 gift items — mostly commanders coins — valued at $28,000.

The instance of abuse involved the purchase of eight TV sets for $1,792 when only seven had been approved. The request form had been manually changed from "seven" to "eight," according to the audit. One year after the purchase, only seven of the eight TV sets could be located, and three of them were still in their original, unopened boxes.

The audit did not note who made the purchase or how the TV sets were to be used.

In another case, three "classified shredders" were purchased for $6,826 by an unknown buyer after the authorized cardholder had left government service, according to the audit.

EUCOM conducted an informal investigation but was unable to determine who purchased or approved the purchase of the shredders. The investigation noted that all of the machines were accounted for.

An additional purchase made on the same card after the card holder had left the government employment was not investigated.

Violations included making purchases without pre-approval, with approval after the fact, or with only verbal approval, improperly paying taxes and being billed twice for the same item.

Maj. Gen. William D. Catto, EUCOM’s chief of staff, concurred with some of the findings and disputed others in an eight-page response to the inspector general.

"As you are well aware, EUCOM is a complex organization responsible for operations across 93 countries," Catto wrote. "The breadth and depth of the mission and the laws of the foreign countries where we conduct operations serves to complicate the business of simple acquisitions.

"Several measures were taken to better communicate and enforce standards throughout the command."

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