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designated the purchase card as the preferred method of making micropurchases. In addition, part 13 of the FAR, “Simplified Acquisition Procedures,” establishes criteria for using purchase cards to place orders and make payments. Figure 1 shows the dramatic increase in purchase card use since the inception of the SmartPay® program.

Figure 1: Purchase Card Expenditures, Fiscal Years 1989 through 2006

Dollars (in billions) 20

18

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0

1988 1990 Fiscal year Source: GSA.

1992

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2006

As shown in figure 1, during the 10-year period from fiscal year 1996 through 2006, acquisitions made using purchase cards increased almost fivefold—from $3 billion in fiscal year 1996 to $17.7 billion in fiscal year 2006. Figure 2 provides further information on the number of purchase cardholder accounts. As shown, the number of purchase cardholder accounts peaked in 2000 at more than 670,000, but since then the number of purchase cardholder accounts has steadily decreased to around 300,000.

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GAO-08-333 Governmentwide Purchase Cards

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