Federal Workers Reward Themselves With Charity Funds They Raise

Friday, 23 May 2014 08:29 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Federal employees every year stage a drive to donate part of their pay to favorite charities through the Combined Federal Campaign, but internal audits show workers are diverting money to pay for massages, travel, sports tickets and more.

The spending list is spread through the country and internationally, The Washington Times reported Thursday.

In some cases, federal workers who run charity drives are not using safeguards to protect the millions of dollars they have raised, an extensive audit  conducted by the inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management for the years between 2007 through 2010 shows.

For examples, workers in Indiana awarded themselves $2,400 in "management fees" for running the charity campaign, and in Florida, workers spent $650 of the money on tickets to sporting events as reward incentives for the workers who raised the most charity money.

In addition, overseas employees spent $9,300 for plane tickets, the report revealed, while workers in Louisiana shelled out $322 for flowers.

Overall, the workers spent more than $1 million that was earmarked for charity, reports The Blaze.

Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Tuesday that because the government has "no real control over how money is spent," corruption like this is possible and ultimately those in need of charity pay the price.

"Could be one reason why in 2013, a smaller portion of federal employees gave money through the combined federal campaign than in any year in the program's 50-year history, so the scandalous behavior is having, in a sense, an unfortunate impact," Schatz said.

"Now, I'm sure many of these individuals have looked at the way that they give to charity and said, why am I going to give money to this organization that is clearly not passing it all through directly to the charity that I care about, I'll just give it directly to the charity, which is what they should do in the first place."

An audit report hasn't yet been released for the years since 2010, reports The Washington Times.

The most criticized example of waste was between 2007 and 2009, occurring when workers selected to assist the fundraising campaigns in the Washington D.C. area spent more than $1,000 on a Christmas party, and $400 for chair massages.

Further, they spent $4,000 on lodging and meal expenses they said were related to CFC conferences, when they were actually arriving early or staying late at the conferences and billing the charity program.

In another instance, a group of D.C. workers, who were part of one of the charity's committees, bought themselves breakfasts and lunches during that same time period, tallying up a bill of $18,000.

The Office of Personnel Management said it is implementing changes that will prevent fraud in the future, including allowing donors and charities to see how much money is being spent on overhead costs. In addition, the office's CFC division says it has improved how money is collected and processed, which could save $10 million a year on the charity foundation's expenses.

“These changes will also ensure that the greatest amount of contributions go directly to the charities and causes selected by federal donors,” current OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said last month. “It also will go a long way to ensure that every charitable dollar and campaign expense is visible to charities and donors through every step of the process.”

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