Purchase Cards:

Continued Control Weaknesses Leave Two Navy Units Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse

GAO-02-506T: Published: Mar 13, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2002.

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This testimony discusses GAO's follow-up on the audit of key internal controls over purchase card activity at two Navy units based in San Diego--the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center and the Navy Public Works Center (NPWC). A breakdown in internal controls over $68 million purchase card transactions in fiscal year 2000 left these two units vulnerable to fraudulent, improper, and abusive purchases and to theft and misuse of government property. Although both units improved the overall control environment, including reducing the number of cardholders, increasing the number of approving officials, and decreased purchase card usage, serious weaknesses persisted in three key control environment areas. First, SPAWAR Systems Center needs to ensure that all cardholders receive required training and that this training is documented. Second, SPAWAR Systems Center needs to more carefully implement internal review and oversight activities, which have been ineffective. Third, GAO identified a significant impairment of management "tone at the top" at SPAWAR Systems Center during the last quarter of fiscal year 2001. The two basic internal controls over the purchase card program that GAO tested remained ineffective during the last quarter of fiscal year 2001 at both units. These weaknesses contributed to additional fraudulent, improper, abusive, or otherwise questionable purchases. GAO also identified purchases by SPAWAR Systems Center cardholders that were either excessively expensive or for questionable government needs.

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