Congress clears bill cracking down on purchase card abuse

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the bill. Charlie Neibergall/AP file photo

In the waning hours of its session, Congress on Saturday passed a bill to toughen oversight of agency purchasing cards, codifying new penalties on federal employees who abuse the cards.

The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act resurfaced abruptly, having been introduced in February 2011 by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, long before the Obama administration began its focused effort to cut waste in agency operations. It cleared the House in July with an amendment requiring Senate approval.

“This bill is about accountability,” said Grassley, who worked on the bill with co-sponsors Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. “The public trust has been violated by abusive use of government charge cards. By putting some common-sense controls into the law, we can make certain the federal bureaucracy improves the way it responsibly manages the use of these cards.”

Lieberman said in a statement that the Government Accountability Office and the inspectors general “have identified many examples of fraudulent or illegal use of these charge cards. Even at the General Services Administration, which administers the charge card program for the entire federal government, a high-ranking employee was able to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenditures on a government charge card.”

Grassley noted employees have used agency purchase and travel cards to buy kitchen appliances, jewelry, gambling excursions, cruises and visits to strip clubs and legalized brothels. The agencies that were put under the “spotlight” for abuse of the cards, he said, were the Defense and Housing and Urban Development departments, as well as the Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The bill requires agencies that issue credit cards and convenience checks to, among other actions, improve record-keeping; train employees in use of the cards; perform credit checks on employees issued cards; require prompt payments to avoid interest charges; invalidate cards for employees who depart the agency; and conduct periodic reviews of which employees should be issued the cards.

Agency inspectors general are tasked with conducting regular risk management assessments of card use, and the Office of Management and Budget with reviewing and updating guidance on proper use of the cards.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.