The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has difficulties supervising its government travel card program and has reimbursed some employees for lodging and meals while not on official travel, a watchdog said Thursday.

A report by the CFPB's inspector general found that some employees used their travel cards for personal use, while others were reimbursed for expenses incurred while on personal leave during official travel.

Still, the amounts claimed and reimbursed were small and limited to a handful of employees. The inspector general found that 16 employees were reimbursed a total of $4,530 while not on official travel. Another seven employees were reimbursed $3,798 for lodging and meals while on personal leave during official travel.

The inspector general also said the CFPB could not "provide reasonable assurance" that government travel cards were closed when employees left the agency. There were 92 employees who left the bureau during the scope of the audit, but it took 22 days on average to close travel accounts. In one instance, it took 79 days.

The bureau had 1,208 employees who spent $16.7 million in transactions and fees using the used the government travel card program last year.

Overall, the report found that the CFPB's travel program lacks controls to prevent unauthorized use and that its policies are outdated and do not explicitly define personal use. The travel office also does not have an efficient process to identify improper purchases, the report found.

"The CFPB faces an increased risk that its employees will misuse their [government travel cards] and that the misuse will not be identified by approving officials," the report stated.

The inspector general recommended that the agency review transactions made by government travel cardholders who received payment for unallowable expenses and seek reimbursement.

It also suggested that the bureau implement data mining tools to monitor use of the travel cards, update its policies to define personal and improper use, and conduct more training.

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