The Houston Chronicle analyzed 451,000 charges made on NASA purchase cards between January 2004 and July 2007.
The charges totaled more than 265 million dollars. The newspaper also reviewed audits, internal reports and other documents related to card use.
The NASA records provided to the Chronicle do not explain justifications for the purchases, or even the specific items bought. Most transactions were made to vendors that appear to sell legitimate business items.
A NASA official says the agency intends to review its card policies by midsummer in response to a recent White House memo instructing agencies to cinch up internal controls over purchase card programs.
The paper reports that since 1997, NASA auditors have pointed out purchase card abuses in no fewer than five internal reports.