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Beware improper use of government vehicles

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By The Staff

By GARY MORRIS

Inspector General Office

The Fort Knox and USAAC Office of the Inspector General has many responsibilities, but perhaps foremost among those is the responsibility to teach and train Soldiers and civilian employees what “right looks like.”

 Recently, this office has received an unusually large number of complaints regarding possible misuse of government-owned vehicles, and this article will attempt to educate readers concerning the use (or more accurately, the misuse) of GOVs.

There are many misconceptions regarding the use of GOVs. They range from  “I’m on my way to the range, but I’ll stop at the shoppette first to get some coffee,” to  “I’ll be driving past the commissary anyway; I’ll just dash in and grab that loaf of bread my spouse told me not to forget,” to  “We’ll take the GOV; after all, it’s a going away luncheon for the colonel,” to  “The drive-through is on the way, it’ll actually be a timesaver to go through in the GOV.” 

None of those examples are legitimate uses of a GOV.

Paragraph 2-4 of Army Regulation 58-1, dated 10 August 2004, is clear on what constitutes official use of a GOV.  The regulation specifically forbids the use of GOVs to conduct personal errands or side trips for unofficial purposes; prohibits its use for transportation to or to be parked at commissaries, post exchanges, (including all concessions), bowling centers, officer and noncommissioned officer clubs, or any nonappropriated fund activity, unless personnel using the vehicles are on official government business or temporary duty travel ;  and prohibits the use of a GOV to transport personnel or to pick-up or deliver any items or supplies that are required for any unofficial functions or activities such as office coffee funds, office luncheons , and so forth. 

Furthermore, the justification that the usage of a GOV will be a benefit to the government in terms of time or cost savings is not a valid rationalization. 

The penalties involved in the misuse of a GOV are also stipulated in paragraph 1-6 of AR 58-1.  The unauthorized or willful misuse of an Army-owned or controlled vehicle by military personnel may lead to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or other administrative procedures deemed appropriate.

 The penalties for misuse of a GOV by a civilian employee are even more draconian.  AR 58-1 stipulates that any officer or employee of the government who willfully uses or authorizes the use of any GOV in violation of the regulation shall be suspended from duty, without compensation, for not less than one month (Sandy, use italics), and shall be suspended for a longer period or summarily removed if circumstances warrant.

 The regulation further states that depending on facts and circumstances, the criminal sanctions of 18 U.S.C. 641 may apply to the misuse of a government motor vehicle.  That statute provides for a fine or imprisonment for up to 10 years or both for the misuse of a GOV.

Proper usage of a GOV can make everyone’s job easier and more enjoyable.  Ensure that if you are fortunate enough to have access to a GOV to assist you in your duties, that you are aware of the rules regarding its use, and follow them.