Fight against credit abuse 'uneven'

"Increased Oversight for Government Purchase and Travel Cards"

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum Oct. 15 that highlighted agencies' best practices for combating purchase card fraud, but said progress across government "is uneven and isolated."

Earlier this year, OMB called for agencies to submit a plan for how they would handle the increasing amount of fraud and abuse related to employee use of government-issued purchase and travel cards. Using an OMB-led interagency task force, officials have been working to help implement the plans and find best practices.

Some agencies, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have made significant progress, according to the memo from OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. Delinquent bills charged by HUD employees dropped 96 percent in the past year, according to the latest data.

The task force soon will be making recommendations for how other agencies can use the best practices developed by HUD and others to improve action governmentwide. And OMB will be monitoring agencies' progress in this area as the White House develops the fiscal 2004 budget, Daniels wrote.

Best practices used by other agencies could prevent fraud instead of simply helping agencies react to it. Such practices include several tactics adopted by the Education Department, such as blocking the merchant category codes for casinos, limousine rentals and other questionable goods and services.

Education and the Defense Department also are using data mining to identify suspect transactions.

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