Defense Department file photo

Pentagon Wants to Raise Purchase Card Maximum to $10,000

House lawmakers leave proposed language out of first draft of Defense authorization bill, but sources say it could come up again.

The Pentagon wants to accelerate procurements by raising the “micro-purchase threshold” for using a government credit card from the current $3,000 maximum to $10,000 as part of the fiscal 2017 Defense authorization act.

The proposed language, first reported by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, would also require the Office of Management and Budget to update its guidance to help ensure that agencies follow “sound acquisition practices when using the government purchase card” and “maintain internal controls that reduce the risk of fraud, waste and abuse.”

The increase would also apply to similar tools called fleet cards and integrated payment cards. The language did not, however, make it into the House Armed Services Committee chairman’s mark of the NDAA, though legislative sources say it has not been ruled out for floor consideration. The committee reported out its version of the authorization bill on April 28.

Raising the threshold, which would allow program managers to avoid multiple layers of approval when acquiring more-expensive goods and services, would come at a time of continued concern in Congress about purchase card abuse.

Though Congress in 2012 enacted the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act, the Government Accountability Office and Pentagon inspector general subsequently found cases of employees using cards for gym memberships, strip club visits and breast implants.

“It’s concerning that the DOD is proposing this large increase to the micro-purchase threshold given that the majority of recent purchase card violations are by DoD employees,” wrote POGO program manager Nicholas Pacifico in a blog post. “For instance, POGO received documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that show that, in the first half of fiscal year 2015, agencies reported 1,302 instances of abuse, fraud, or waste related to purchase or integrated cards. Of those instances, 1,181 (or over 90 percent) were by DoD employees. This breakdown has been consistent for at least the last two years.”

POGO previously supported hiking the threshold to $5,000.