Review of Air Force Military Dependent Travel Claims

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-06-16.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                        OFFICE. - VY
                                    WASHINGTON,   D.C.   20548



          Dear &.    See~etary:
                In our letter of Septeniber 1.8, 1969, B-125037, we regm+x.d the
          results of a review of dependent travel claims paid by Army disbursing
          officers.   In that letter we also advised you of our reviews in pro-
          gress of military dependent travel claims in the other services apld
          stated that we would advise you of any additional matters which we
          felt should be brought to your attention,     This is a report on. our
          review of Air Force military dependent travel claims, Our findings
          have been &&G&&d with officials       of the Air Force Aecmtiw     and
          Finance Center (AFAFC), Denver, Colorado,
               We reviewed R random ssmple of 1,654 military depend-t travel
          vouchers paid by Air Force accounting and finance officers during the
          pexiod Decemberlgaj7 through March 1968. On the basis of iwf?mmation
          shown on the vouchers d obtained fr      allo~@nt specords, hcm5ehokd3~4~
          goods shipent records,                  orities$ we identified 93    /
          questionable cases, and referred them to the Air Force Office of Special
          Investigations (OSI) in July and August 1969 for further investig&ion,
                The final report of the OSI investigations was furnished us by
          letter dated February 8, 1971, The investigations disclosed that in
          24 of the cases, with payments totaling $4,348, the travel of dependents
          was not perfomed as claimed or was not performed for the purpose of
          establishing a bona fide residences, One additional ease for $139 had
          been previously found to be erroneous by the Air Force, The averse
          amount of the payments on these 25 cltis     was about $179.
                Inforaation in the fiscal year 1969 Department of Defense military
          personnel hearings indicate thgit about 443,OCIQmilitary dependent travel
          el~ims were paid by the Air Force during fiscal year 1.968, !i%erefoaPe,if
          the rate of occurrence disclosed by our review were to p~evai.1 throughout
          the 443,000 cllms, we est           sotimtely 6,700 impraper cl
          valving about $1.2 million were paid by the Air Force during fiscal year
          2933 e

                                  5QTH ANNIVERSARY4921.1971
            sJ.ysis of the 25 cbxims ~lhcsws
                                           that they were imp
(I) the dependents did not perform any travel in connection with memberet
permanent change of station (PCS) orders, (2) the dependents were already
residing at the destination address on the date the members0PCSorders
were issued, (3) the dependents traveled, but not for the puxpose of
establishi&   a bona fide residence, or (4) the dependents traveled be-
tweem points other than those claimed by the member.
      In   aitiom t           ndings in our review, 33 cases totaling $X2,243,
involvi    5.qmper            s of mil.itary dependent travel, have been re-
ported to us as irre          tfes by the AFA.??C2n accordance with 7 GAO 28~4,
during the period January 1.968 through February 1971. These cases QNWPB
brought to the attention of the Air Force grimari3.y on the basis of infoxww
tion furnished by informer8 and by wives or former wives requesting finan-
ci              ce or the locatfon of the m
      In his reply dated November19, l&l, to    our Letter of September 18,
1969, the Assist     Secmt~    of Defense (C    troller)    stated that cm-
sideration was befmg        to the addition     one item to the DD Form
1351-4 (Voucher or Cl     for Dependent Travel  and Dislocation or TrazUe~
       ce), to indicate whether 8~" ot the household goods h              shipped
                    ana to arequire    expJanati0~ in those c           I!% sup-
                                                      z%ls;ostated that the
                              d be incl.uded in audits conducetedby the audit

     We have been info    a ihat      FD Ftxm      -4 has been revis
      or&e the househobd goods         emt in      tion and
      or use by the services in         Em
forms has been exhausted,
     Centr          cted audits of militazy d endemt -haTrePhave not been
conducted by the    r Force Auditor     eral*d staff since our 1969 repoti
because of the belief tha                    t needs existed in otbep finan-/
cial are?as. The Auditor                     ative Office located at the AJMFC
was given the                       x=cbll, $971, of prepsaYinga set of audit
             Q be used by           at base lwel.    Umdel~the guidelines, the
             audit of mili         endemt travel ti.xk be Ileft to the discretion
of the various Auditor
     bar dition to the foFegoi%, the foU&ng         actions were taken in
response to the Sept e'9p18, 1969, r
     --The Assistant C. troUer of the fir Force for Accounti
       Finance disseminated copies of the report to a3.3.major c
       emphasizing the need for closer surveillance and tighter
       controls over dependent travel payments and suggesting
       that a publicity program be initiated to indoctrinate
       membersabout the seriousness of submitting false in-
     --The Air Force regulations were retised in September 1970, to
        require membersto show, in the remarks section of the DD Form
        1351-4, the reason that their household goods were not shipped
        to the new address. (We reviewed 214 military dependent travel
        vouchers paid in December 1970, huwever, the vouchers dfd not
        show that household goods shipment information, as required by
        the regulation, had been considered.)
     The Air Force regulations provide that the c-der       or his represent-
ative is responsible for verifying, within his means, the intent of the
dependents to establish a bona fide residence at the place shown on the
claim voucher before such claim is transmitted to the accounting and
finance officer,   The regulation does not, however, prescribe the methods
or techniques to be used by the cmder      or his representative in making
such verification  and, thus, may not be accomplishing the desired objective,
     The use of the revised form, the publicity given to our 1969 report,
and proper implementation of the revised regulation should help to reduce
the type of improper p ents disclosed by our reviewc
      To further strengthen the remaining controls in this   ter, WV4
believe that the Air Force regulations should be expanded to provide
commandersor their representatives with specific guidelines as to how
they should determine if the travel was performed for the purpose of
establishing a bona fide residence.
     We still believe that some of the problems associated with the
administration of dependent travel could be avoided by requiring adult
dependents to furnish a notarized statement, as previously suggested in
C4mtJtroller Ceneral*s letter, dated March 15, 1954 (B-61937), copy en-
closed. We are making no ret     endations at this time because of the
corrective actions taken or contqlated    subsequent to the period we
reviewed. We suggest, however, that you request the Secretary of the
Air Force to evaluate, within a reasonable time, the effectiveness of
the actions taken and to advise us of the results of his inqpliry,
    We appreciate the cooperation and assistance of the Air Force Office
of Special Investigations for its investigation of the questionable cases.


     Wewould appreciate your commentsand advice of any action t&en
in this matter.
     A copy of this report is being sent to the Secretary of the Air
                                          Sincerely yours,

                                          Director,   Defense Diksion

The Honorable
The Secretary of Defense

.7   (   ,-    .. . .
         ._j   ..,
               ASSISTANT       SFCFiFi-ARY         GF        DEF   ENSZ
                           WASHiNGTON        25,   0.   C.

     6.   Issuance   by t3-E b!ssist;irlt Secretary 0 f Defense (Iknpmm ,and
          I'ersonnel) of a policy directive settirg forth the disciplinary
          action to be tskcn xhe11frzxdulent claims are nade (DODlX~w-
          tive 1342,l da&d July 3, 1953, copy attached),"
        We believe that the comective action already taken and plans of the
milit-ary departments for cor&,imed close scru.tlr~ of dcpcnckntst trc.vel
 cl&-m vi11 td.ihout undue delay pro%-eefEect?vc in stop$ng t,he pr~cZ,ice
of subx!!tting fzlse claTm. AccorcXr@,v, 1,~ feel that there is na nmd
at this tine for establishing a Dcfms o-Tkie reauiremnt, for the pmposed
notxrizsd statment,         Should it develop, ho:;cver, frox intori:z,3. cii:;cI.o-
SUDS     CC Gel'isrL!. ~~ccou~~tir!g
                                   Office mudit or investig??,ion sepmt.s that
t‘r,e frz:cUer;t    practice is not eliu&wt~ed, the prcbkn KXI. be rc2gJl’S~Sed
in the light of such d.cvclop;m-uts, and you r.lr:y be nswred th?.t, th? adop-
tion of the su~csted s'iatsmnt will be reconsider&

                                                  - ..';

            SUBJECT   Disciplimry     Action to be Taken ?Vhcn Fraudulmt
        i             Claims for    Travel of lIspendent$j a1.E 1~Zad.e