Federal Eye: Report Details Fraud and Abuse at TVA

A two-year review by the inspector general’s office at the Tennessee Valley Authority finds that staffers made millions of dollars of questionable purchases on credit cards provided by the government-backed corporation.

Staffers spent more than $360,000 over two years on electronic items including X-Boxes and TiVos for an employee awards program and made questionable purchases of alcohol, beer and wine for training sessions and other meetings, despite TVA’s policy against consumption during such events. Others purchased software to “erase evidence of Internet usage,” according to the report.

TVA was established by Congress in 1933 to address infrastructural and economic needs across seven southern states. The executive agency is entirely self-financing and receives no funding from Congress. Revenues come from the sale of electricity and bonds.

The authority established its purchasing card program in 1995 for business-related expenses not exceeding $5,000. TVA’s business service general manager approves and issues the cards to employees and any purchases exceeding the limit must be approved by superiors on a case-by-case basis. Employees can use them to buy materials, supplies, equipment, books or periodicals, or pay for memberships with professional organizations. Contrary to the pattern of misuse, the cards are not approved for expenses related to travel, vehicle leasing, heavy equipment rental or to buy computer hardware or software. Total annual purchases on the cards have fluctuated between $23 million and $87 million over the life of the program, according to the report.

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