OMB checks card use

All federal agencies have until June 1 to submit a review and remedial plans for government credit card use

Oversight and Management of the Government Purchase Card Program Hearing

Regardless of whether they have been cited for abuses, all federal agencies have until June 1 to submit a review and remedial plans for government credit card use to the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB sent a memorandum April 18 requesting the plans and will use the information to determine the next course of action. The call comes after months of publicity surrounding the SmartPay cards because of credit card abuses at certain agencies, said Joseph Kull, deputy controller of OMB's Office of Federal Financial Management.

Speaking May 7 at the 2003 Visa Government Forum in Washington, D.C., Kull said the now notorious example of a government employee at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command using a government-issued card to buy breast implants for his girlfriend "brings tremendous pressure on the program" and paints a picture of an "irresponsible government," although the cards mostly have benefited agencies since the program's launch in 1989.

The federal government spent almost $14 billion in fiscal 2001 with the cards.

OMB will be reviewing the agencies' plans, but it's too soon to tell if quarterly reports on the purchase cards will be required in the future, Kull said, adding that he'd like to see agencies with good programs rewarded. "Not everyone should bear the same level of burden," he said. Excusing agencies with well-run programs from submitting reports would be an "incentive for good management."

Sue McIver, director of the General Services Administration's Services Acquisition Center, which oversees the SmartPay program, said she agreed with agencies, such as the Defense Department, that publicize egregious card abuses and prosecute offenders. This "lets others know those actions won't be tolerated."

NEXT STORY: Agencies reviewing purchase cards

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