Theft and Misuse

Theft is simply the illegal taking of something of value. Bribery is a form of theft, as are cash larceny and embezzlement. Stealing non-cash assets such as office supplies and inventory is also theft. There is, however, a way of stealing value without actually taking money or things. It’s called misuse.

The misuse of government resources is common and difficult to detect.

When, for example, someone uses a government-issued vehicle to run personal errands, it is misuse. The same can be said when a person uses a government-owned photocopier to reproduce resumes or other personal documents. Using a government’s computer to surf the Internet for personal, rather than business, purposes is another form of misuse. While individually such transgressions seem unimportant, collectively they add to the cost of running the government.                          

General Guidance

Unexpectedly high utilization of materials or supplies.

Unexpectedly high deterioration rates for equipment. Greater than typical repair, maintenance and replacement costs.

Equipment, materials and supplies not available when needed.

Shortages revealed during physical inventories.

Refusal or failure to conduct physical inventories.

Missing money or other valuables.

Materials and supplies should be kept secured and only issued when needed. Smaller office equipment (e.g., staplers) and hand tools (e.g., hammers) should be indelibly marked with the identification of the true owner.

All equipment should be issued on an "as needed" basis. Trip logs for vehicles should be maintained and periodically checked against odometer readings.

Print and copy jobs should require user identification.

Authority to issue materials should be limited; all withdrawals should be recorded.

Policy should require periodic inventories of materials, supplies, equipment, etc. This policy should be enforced by management.

Procedures should require the rapid banking of money. When not banked (i.e., register balances or petty cash), money should be counted at least daily. All cash should be signed for. There should adequate segregation of duties (between receipt, deposit, accounting, etc.).