Response from GSA and Our Evaluation
charge cards, and that agency personnel have financial responsibility with regard to unauthorized and erroneous purchase card transactions.
While GSA wholly or partially concurred with four recommendations, GSA generally disagreed with the majority of our recommendations. Specifically, GSA stated that it was not within the scope of its authority to issue guidance to agencies with respect to asset accountability and receipt and acceptance of items purchased with government purchase cards, as these are not strictly purchase card issues. Further, GSA stated that there are more effective ways to deal with purchase card misuse or abuse than issuing “redundant” policy reminders or guidance. It also took exception to our testing methodology. We agree with GSA that the problems we identified with property accountability and receipt and acceptance go beyond the bounds of strictly purchase card issues. However, our work over the last several years has consistently shown substantial problems with property accountability and independent receipt and acceptance of goods and services, problems that arose because of the flexibility provided by the purchase card program.34 We do not believe that our recommendations related to policy guidance and reminders to strengthen internal controls are redundant—our previous recommendations in this area had been targeted at specific agencies we audited. With respect to governmentwide purchase card issues, GSA’s role as the purchase card program manager puts it in a unique position to identify challenges to agency internal control systems and assist agencies with improving their internal controls governmentwide. We are encouraged by OMB’s support for aggressive and effective controls over purchase cards, and believe that GSA can seek OMB support to overcome the perceived lack of authority. We believe that GSA has a number of tools already at its disposal, such as online training and annual conferences, where GSA could easily remind cardholders and approving officials to pay particular attention to governmentwide issues, including asset accountability and independent receipt and acceptance of goods and services identified in this report. We also reiterate support for our testing methodology, which included systematic testing of key internal controls through statistical sampling. The following contains more detailed information on GSA’s comments, along with our response.
34 We believe that GSA possesses the authority to issue such guidance under its general authorities to prescribe property management policies under 40 U.S.C. §§121(c) and 501(b)(2).
GAO-08-333 Governmentwide Purchase Cards