OPM leads feds in e-payments

The Office of Personnel Management sent a larger percentage of its vendor payments without using cash or checks than any other federal agency in December.

OPM made 99.7 percent of its payments to vendors electronically in December, when the agency recorded 56,107 electronic payments to vendors and wrote only 162 checks. Some small businesses receive checks because they are unable to accept electronic payments, Herd said.

"Anytime anybody achieves 99.7 percent is notable," said Michael Herd, a spokesman for the Electronic Payments Association, an industry group that promotes the use of the Automated Clearinghouse network for electronic payments.

Agencies save at least 50 cents per payment each time they pay a vendor electronically rather than issuing a check, Herd said. Electronic payments also occur faster and with fewer errors, he said.

Ranking a close second and third in the percent of electronic payments to vendors were NASA, at 99.1 percent, and the National Science Foundation, at 98.4 percent.

On average, federal agencies made 65 percent of their payments to vendors electronically in December. "At 65 percent, you can obviously do a lot more," Herd said. "But compared to others, it's already a very good result." Nationwide, across all industries and company sizes, only about 20 percent of business-to-business payments are electronic, he said.

The Education Department ranked lowest. It made 6.2 percent of its vendor payments online in December.

The Treasury Department's Financial Management Service collects the electronic payment data as part of its reporting responsibility under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.

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