Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Documenting Government Credit Card Purchases

Government issued credit cards, sometimes known as "Purchasing Cards," "Procurement Cards," or "P-Cards" can be a great tool to simplify the procurement process.  However, they come with risks if there are not adequate controls in place.

Audit finding:   The Washington State Auditor's Office recently issued an audit finding to the Grays Harbor County Fire Protection District No. 16 for not having adequate supporting documentation, such as invoices or detailed receipts, to support $19,695 in expenses with District issued credit cards.  The audit cited purchases for food, fuel, clothes, holiday decorations, supplies, and lodging that were not documented, raising the question whether they were an allowable use of public funds as required by state law.

Practical tips:
  • Policies:  Does your agency have clear policies on the acceptable and unacceptable purchases? Do your policies prohibit an employee loaning their card to another employee?  Do the policies establish the maximum dollar amount per purchase and per day, and prohibit splitting of purchases to be less than the established thresholds?
  • Training:  Proper training should be mandatory for anyone issued an agency credit card, so they understand the expectations and restrictions surrounding use of the credit card.
  • Certification:  Employees should be required to sign a statement acknowledging the policies surrounding use of the card and the consequences for using it improperly. Employees should understand they may be required to personally pay for unauthorized or inappropriate uses of the card.
  • Documentation:  All purchases with an agency credit card should be documented with invoices or detailed receipts.
  • Monitoring:  All purchases should be reviewed by a supervisor on a monthly basis before payment to ensure they are appropriate uses of the card and do not violate agency policies.
More information:  
  • Click here to read other blog postings of mine relating to government issued credit cards.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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