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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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