A lot of people enjoy a beer at the end of a hard day, but that drink should not come at the taxpayer's expense, especially when the money was meant to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Congressional investigators have uncovered many of what they called questionable purchases with government-issued credit cards. That includes a Coast Guard official who used a government purchase card to buy a beer brewing kit.
Greg Kutz from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, told a Senate committee, "We consider this to be an abusive transaction and question the use of Homeland Security personnel and resources to brew its own beer."
The Coast Guard was just one of the Department of Homeland Security agencies investigated by the GAO.
The purchase of the beer brewing kit was no surprise to Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, a citizen watchdog group.
"You have all kinds of problems with waste, fraud and abuses when it comes to purchase cards," he said.
He noted that for more than 60 percent of the purchases, there was no documentation that the goods or services were ever received.
Among the purchases cited by GAO investigators:
$208,000 for 20 flat bottom boats -- twice the retail price
$7,000 for Apple iPods
$8,000 for a plasma TV set that was not used
$10,000 for "unnecessary" rooms at Sea Palms Resort in Georgia
Also, FEMA paid $68,000 for 2,000 sets of dog booties to protect the feet of dogs searching through debris. But the dogs were not accustomed to wearing booties, so they were never used.
FEMA was unable to locate $170,000 worth of laptops and printers, which were supposed to be in a conference room in New Orleans.
A Homeland Security official said many of the missing items were suddenly found this week. Senators found the timing suspicious. In fact, they found a lot that was suspicious.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, warned the DHS official, "People in this country are rapidly losing confidence in the ability of the department to carry out its mission and to do so in a way that safeguards the taxpayers' dollars."
You may wonder what Coast Guard officials gave as their reason for brewing beer with taxpayer dollars. They said that making and serving their own brand of beer was a good way to break the ice at official parties.
Investigators said it was also a good way to waste your money. Cheers.