Charging problems

A recent report by the General Accounting Office found that there are continuing problems with how government purchase cards are managed.

Among GAO's findings:

n Too many cards. Agencies often did not have policies to govern the number of cards issued or criteria to determine which employees should have them.

n Not enough direct managers. GAO found that some officials were responsible for reviewing and approving too many monthly cardholder statements, leading to cursory examinations of charges. One Defense Department official approved more than 700 statements for 1,526 cardholders per month.

n Not enough oversight. Most agencies had not assigned enough people to monitor purchases or develop an oversight program. At DOD, for example, none of the major commands that GAO officials audited had a full-time program coordinator to oversee purchase card use.

n Too much credit. Agencies typically set spending limits at arbitrary levels and did not tie the limits to the unit's historical spending figures.

n Not enough training. Agencies required cardholders and approving officials to receive initial training and periodic refresher courses, but in many cases they could not show documentation to establish that users and managers had actually been trained.

Source: General Accounting Office

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