Federal Eye: Report Reveals Misuse of IRS Phone Cards

Internal Revenue Service employees charged approximately $8.4 million to 34,000 agency-issued telephone cards, according to a new report by the agency’s inspector general that tracked calls between Oct. 2005 and April 2008. The report’s findings mirror a similar 2004 report that blamed managers for not regularly reviewing card charges for potential fraud or abuse.

The IRS issues calling cards to employees that travel for their jobs, participate in flex-place or telecommuting programs or who are required to set up conference calls. Approximately $7.4 million of the total telephone card charges were for teleconferences or related costs between Oct. 2005 and April 2008. The IRS has relied on teleconferencing much more in recent years as it and many other government agencies cut travel costs.

The remaining $1 million was spent on telephone calls or related charges. Investigators discovered improper charges totaling approximately $59,000 on one telephone card used to make calls between the U.S. and various foreign countries between June 2007 and June 2008. Those costs occurred despite the IRS’ understanding that the cards, issued by AT&T, were for domestic calls only. Because of the glitch, the agency has asked the phone company for a reimbursement totaling $79,945. Fourteen cards had charges of $500 or more during at least one month between Oct. 2005 and Feb. 2008. One of them had charges totaling $9,332 over a nine month span.

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