Fish & Wildlife Service "Slush Fund" Wasted Millions
July 21, 1999
A General Accounting Office report to Congress on spending by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives the term "wildlife" new meaning. A bureaucrat who claimed reimbursement of $152 for a meal charge on an overnight trip and improper claims for alcohol reimbursements by others were documented in the report.
Auditors said there was little oversight or management of a $31 million "Director's Conservation Fund" meant to manage conservation projects. The money comes from excise taxes collected from hunters, fishermen and recreationists. Misspending amounted to millions of dollars.
- GAO officials told the House Resources Committee yesterday that the lack of oversight "spawned a culture of permissive spending" at the agency, a part of the Interior Department.
- The chairman of the committee, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), says the committee "found regional office slush accounts, travel abuses, relocation expense abuses, no internal audits" and a "ream of other improper, imprudent, irresponsible expenditures."
- The GAO found that staffers attended nine national conferences in 1998 and 1999 without proper approval and billed $36,500 to the conservation fund.
- Young said that instead of conservation dollars being spent through the states on useful wildlife projects as Congress mandated, "they are being stolen for other purposes."
The conservation funds being investigated are the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act.
Source: Audrey Hudson, "Auditors Say Agency Misspent Millions," Washington Times, July 21, 1999.
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