To boost morale, the Air Force sells discounted tickets for entertainment ranging from Disneyland to movies and concerts. But the Air Force Audit Agency worries that lax procedures could have made it easy for thieves to fly away with tickets.
And some of the biggest problems it found among the 11 bases it studied nationwide were at Utah's Hill Air Force Base.
However, "immediate actions were taken to resolve the issue," said Maj. Dawn Lancaster, commander of Hill's 75th Services Squadron.
Reports obtained by the Deseret Morning News through a Freedom of Information Act request show auditors found that local ticket offices did not carefully follow Air Force procedures, and "because tickets are inherently vulnerable to misappropriation and easily convertible to cash, full implementation of controls over tickets is needed."
For example, it said that at the 11 bases studied, "ticket office personnel could not locate 595 tickets valued at over $21,000." That was about 1 percent of their overall inventory at the time.
Nearly a third of the tickets that were missing were AWOL from Hill.
Auditors found Hill's ticket office was missing 177 tickets valued at $6,637 — or about 3 percent of its inventory, the most among the bases studied.
Besides missing tickets, auditors found that offices often had other tickets on hand that they had not entered into their computer inventories — which could make theft easier. At the 11 bases studied, they found 1,793 tickets valued at $44,509 that had not been entered into inventories.
That included 179 tickets at Hill valued at $3,023. But four other bases had more than that. The worst was Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., which had 600 tickets not entered into inventories, valued at $24,509.
Auditors said the missing and unrecorded tickets were discovered even though "ticket office personnel conducted (required) end-of-the-month inventories and most offices maintained tickets in a locked safe."
They complained that seven of 11 ticket office managers (including at Hill) did not reconcile inventory results to beginning balances and sales to identify discrepancies, which is also required by Air Force regulations.
They complained that commanders at six of 11 locations (including Hill) did not separate key duties as required, often allowing managers to order and receive tickets, and record ticket receipts into inventory records.
They also complained managers at seven of 11 bases (including Hill) failed to require each cashier to sign for tickets issued exclusively to them, as required.
Lancaster at Hill said that almost all the tickets it was missing had been returned to vendors, but the inventory had not been updated to show that. "The ticket office immediately instituted new inventory procedures to better manage ticket accountability," she said.
Lancaster added that actual theft was not suspected by auditors or senior leadership. "Therefore, no charges were filed. The auditor believed the problem stemmed from simple misaccounting. This has been resolved by new inventory procedures."
In 2002, Hill sold nearly $1 million worth of such entertainment tickets to Air Force members and their families. Nationwide in 2002, the Air Force sold $30 million worth of such entertainment tickets at 68 ticket offices.