Navy officers stationed in the Pacific paid gardeners $61,000 in government funds to groom their lawns and spent $5,098 to outfit a commander's motorboat with a teak wine and stereo cabinet and $900 for a 48-piece china and crystal service for a stateside admiral, according to a Defense Department report.
In an audit of procurement practices by all three services in the Pacific area in 1982 and 1983, the Pentagon's inspector general concluded that the three Navy purchases were improper or in violation of department regulations.
The audit, released this week, contended that millions of dollars were wasted on such "questionable" acquisitions as:
*Army contracts for custodial service in South Korea in which the contractor was permitted to buy cleaning materials from local merchants at a cost higher than if ordered from U.S. government inventories.
*Navy procurement of 200 porcelain ashtrays imprinted with the logo of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for $1,377, including $217 for shipping from Tennessee.
*Air Force purchases of $213,300 worth of office and industrial supplies in South Korea when the items were available from the U.S. government inventory for $76,200. Among the controversial purchases were 19 containers of dishwashing soap for $6,056; the General Services Administration price would have been $395.
*Navy leases in Hawaii of 483 passenger vehicles. The leases cost about $705,000 more than if the cars had been purchased.
Auditors reviewed 330,000 procurements at military installations in Hawaii, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. In all, 372 purchases were deemed "questionable."
The Navy's contract for $61,000 in 1983 to provide lawn care for senior officers' quarters in Hawaii violates a Pentagon regulation requiring the occupants of family housing to maintain the grounds, according to the audit.
Auditors recommended a halt to the appropriations for lawn care, but the Navy rejected the idea. Responding to the audit report, the Navy said the matter would be discussed with the secretary of defense.
The Navy did concede waste in the installation of a wine and stereo cabinet in the "captain's gig," or motorboat, of the aircraft carrier USS Midway and ordered the ship commander to improve contract review procedures to prevent recurrences of such purchases.
"We do not believe that there is a mission-related need for a wine and stereo cabinet," the auditors said.
An investigation by the Pacific Fleet headquarters showed that the cabinet was installed for $5,098 in September 1982 while the motorboat was being repaired. The Midway's commander asked that a durable material such as teak be used for the cabinet, which contains boat supplies as well as "glassware and other items" to host foreign government authorities and other official visitors, according to a Navy report.
The 48-piece service of china and crystal wine glasses was purchased in July 1982 by the Naval Supply Depot in Yokosuka, Japan, for the residence of the commander of the Navy Aviation Supply Office in Philadelphia, according to the audit. Defense Department regulations prohibit such amenities except for special commands, the audit said.
A Navy report attached to the audit said that money for the dinnerware has been paid back by the "ordering official." It was unclear who made the reimbursement.