Government Purchase Cards:

Control Weaknesses Expose Agencies to Fraud and Abuse

GAO-02-676T: Published: May 1, 2002. Publicly Released: May 1, 2002.

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Linda M. Calbom
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The use of government purchase cards has increased in recent years as agencies have sought to eliminate the bureaucracy and paperwork long associated with small purchases. At the same time, agencies need to have adequate internal controls in place to protect the government from waste, fraud, and abuse. GAO found significant internal control weaknesses in agency purchase card programs, including inadequate review and approval processes, a lack of training for both cardholders and approving officials, and poor monitoring. This lax environment allowed cardholders to make fraudulent, improper, abusive, and questionable purchases. Weak controls also resulted in lost, missing, or misused government property.

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