NASA needs to better control oversight of travel expenses and distribution of travel cards, according to an audit report. Above, NASA headquarters. (NASA)
NASA needs to better control oversight of travel expenses and distribution of travel cards, an audit report released Thursday recommends.
Forty-two NASA employees — "an inappropriately high number" — are allowed to authorize their own travel and approve their own travel reimbursement claims, NASA's inspector general said in the report. The employees include several associate and assistant administrators at NASA headquarters, the IG said.
In contrast, only two employees at the Justice Department, which has six times the number of NASA employees, have authority to approve their own travel vouchers, the report said.
The 42 NASA employees charged $552,000 to their travel cards between Oct. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, with no review from a higher-level official to ensure the costs were reasonable or allowable, the IG found.
NASA officials said they would reduce the number of people authorized to approve their own trips and expenses and conduct more audits on the trips that those employees take.
The IG also raised concerns that 28 people no longer employed by NASA still had active travel card accounts and more than 900 employees had never used their travel cards.
The former NASA employees had not used their travel cards since leaving the agency, the report said. However, maintaining those accounts increases the risk of loss, fraud, abuse and misuse, the report said.
NASA officials said they would review the accounts of people who leave NASA on a monthly basis and consider deactivating accounts that are underused.