Online courses at Defense provide purchase card training

More than 4,000 Defense Department employees have already completed an online government purchase card tutorial that was introduced in late August, a Defense official said Thursday.

The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and Continuous Learning Center's Web tutorial provides Defense workers, managers and contractors with 10 lessons on the guidelines and requirements they must follow when using government purchase cards.

The training, which takes an average of four hours to complete, is mandatory for those authorized to use government purchase cards. Previously, some agencies within Defense required workers to complete purchase card training, but there was no standard approach, according to Bob Faulk, the director of DAU Continuous Learning.

Online courses will provide all Defense employees who use purchase cards with a common understanding of how to properly use them. Individual agencies can supplement the Web training with their own courses if they see fit, Faulk said.

Employees do not have to finish the program in one sitting, but can spread lessons out over days. Each lesson includes review questions to help them prepare for a final test that they must pass with a minimum score of 70 percent to earn a certificate verifying completion of the course. Those who fail the test on their first try can retake it as many times as necessary.

The online courses are beneficial because they provide a cheaper alternative to off-site training and allow students to pace themselves, according to Faulk. They also contain lessons that address purchase card abuse, a long-standing problem at Defense.

Card use has undergone increased scrutiny since a 2000 General Accounting Office survey revealed that Navy personnel systematically misused the cards, which are like charge cards, to purchase expensive personal items, including clothes, cosmetics and compact discs. An Oct. 15 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget directed agency heads to submit quarterly reports starting Jan. 15 on their progress to overhaul their charge card programs.

The cards were designed to circumvent the procurement process for relatively small, routine purchases, allowing officials to make government purchases of up to $2,500 without going through the paperwork required for major acquisitions. In fiscal 2001, Defense employees used purchase cards for about 10 million transactions with a total value of $6 billion.

For more information on the online courses, click here:

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