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Finance combats government card delinquency, misuse

GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- An October report from 124th Fighter Wing Finance showed a significant number of delinquent travel card accounts and finance has stepped up efforts to curb delinquency and misuse.

The number of accounts more than 60 days delinquent spiked as did the total dollar balance in delinquent accounts in June and July. Even though the wing's delinquent dollars has dropped significantly since that time, the number of delinquent accounts is still more than two percent. The Air National Guard's standard is equal to or less than two percent. Currently half of Air National Guard units meet these standards.

Misuse of government travel cards is not rampant in the wing but does occur often enough to prompt finance to take action. The finance office has a goal of zero percent misuse and delinquency. They monitor every single transaction made on a monthly basis and report all misuses to the cardholder's unit commander.

The biggest intentional misuse finance sees is when people are TDY or deployed and pull cash from ATMs, said Master Sgt. Jennifer Murray, travel pay manager for the finance office. Drawing cash from a government travel card is not authorized at any time, even if the cash is used for an authorized expense.

"We see often is people accidentally pulling out the wrong card and paying for something when not on TDY. In this case they usually realize their mistake and call finance, which is the best thing to do," said Sergeant Murray.

One way to prevent this type of misuse is by keeping the cards out of the user's hands until they are deployed or on temporary duty. Several units here do this by collecting cards from all members and keeping them in a secure place and distributing the cards only when members deploy or go TDY.

"Discipline for misuse and delinquency is up to the individual's unit commander. It can range from a simple warning all the way to an Article 15," said Sergeant Murray. "Finance also has the ability to deactivate cards, take cards away altogether, and suspend travel."

After new card holders complete the application for their travel card they and their supervisor are required to sign a Statement of Understanding that outlines the proper and improper use of the card. They are also required to complete online training and take a quiz to reinforce proper use of the card.

The most recent change to travel card was made effective in August. The change mandates that use of the government travel card in conjunction with leave is not authorized. This means that the continued use of the travel card for personal expenses is prohibited while on leave. If you have, for example, a rental car or a hotel room on your government card while you are on orders you will need to check out of the hotel and return any rental car and then register or rent a car using your personal charge card for the duration of your leave. This may be inconvenient for some but will save the trouble of sorting out misuse of a government travel card with your commander.

In order to prevent misuse and delinquency after cards are issued, finance offers briefings in the Finance Informer, the finance newsletter, as well as briefings at standup meetings. They will continue to monitor every transaction made to further combat misuse.