unauthorized use. Failure to maintain accountability over property, including highly pilferable items, increases the risk of unauthorized use and lost and stolen property.
Our accountable asset work consisted of identifying accountable and pilferable properties associated with transactions from both the statistical sample and data-mining transactions, requesting serial numbers from the agency and vendors, and obtaining evidence—such as a photograph provided by the agency—that the property was recorded, could be located, or both. In some instances, we obtained the photographs ourselves. We then evaluated each photograph to determine whether the photograph represented the accountable or pilferable item we selected for testing. Property items failed our physical property inventory tests for various reasons, including the following:
the agency could not locate the item upon request and reported the item as missing, the agency failed to provide photographs, or the agency provided photographs of items where the serial numbers did not match the items purchased.
In many instances, we found that agencies failed to provide evidence that the property was independently received or entered into the agency property book. Weak controls over accountable and pilferable property increase the risk that property will be lost or stolen and also increase the chance that the agency will purchase more of the same item because it is not aware that the item has already been purchased. The following descriptions further illustrate transactions that failed our property tests:
The Army could not properly account for 16 server configurations containing 256 items that it purchased for over $1.5 million dollars. Despite multiple inquiries, the Army provided photographs of only 1 configuration out of 16, but did not provide serial numbers for that configuration to show that the photograph represented the items acquired as part of the transaction we selected for testing. Further, when we asked for inventory records as an acceptable alternative, the Army could not provide us evidence showing that it had possession of the 16 server configurations.
A Navy cardholder purchased general office supplies totaling over $900. As part of this purchase, the cardholder bought a Sony digital camera costing $400 and an iPod for $200. In supporting documentation provided, the Navy stated that the cardholder,
GAO-08-333 Governmentwide Purchase Cards