GSA concurred with 3 of 10 recommendations. Specifically, GSA concurred with 2 recommendations to improve controls over convenience checks and 1 recommendation related to approval of purchases below the micropurchase threshold. Specifically, GSA agreed to provide written guidance to agencies that convenience check use should be minimized, and that improper use of convenience checks would result in cancellation of convenience check privileges. As part of its concurrence, GSA provided that it is not practical to strictly prohibit the use of convenience checks given the unique nature of some suppliers or services acquired by agencies and vendor refusal to accept purchase cards. It was not our intent to completely eliminate the use of convenience checks. As such, we clarified our recommendation to require only that the cardholder make a “reasonable”—not absolute—effort to locate other vendors that can provide the same goods and services and that accept the purchase card prior to using convenience check. The requested revision is consistent with our intent and therefore we have made the necessary change to our recommendations. With respect to the third recommendation related to approval of micropurchases, GSA agreed that cardholders need to obtain prior approval or subsequent review of purchase card activity for purchase transactions that are under the micropurchase threshold. However, GSA believed that OMB needed to take the lead and incorporate this change in its Circular No. A-123. GSA offered to help OMB revise Circular No. A-123 in this regard.
GSA stated that it partially concurred with our recommendation to remind travelers to reduce the per diem claims on their travel vouchers when meals are provided by the government. However, based on its response, it appears that GSA substantially agrees with our recommendation, and that the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy will issue this guidance. In actuality, GSA concurred with our recommendation but disagreed that this was a purchase card issue. Further, GSA took exception as to whether the requirement to deduct per diem applies to continental breakfasts, stating that continental breakfasts did not constitute “full breakfasts.” Thus, GSA stated that it needs to convene stakeholders in the GSA travel policy community to consider whether the requirement for deducting per diem should be applied to continental breakfasts. We disagree with this assessment. If the costs of the continental breakfasts were in fact not significant, we would not have reported on this finding; however, the basis of our recommendation rests primarily on the fact that GSA itself paid for continental breakfasts costing $23 per person, which was greater than the portion of government per diem established by GSA for breakfast in any city in the United States. GSA then proceeded to reimburse the same employees the breakfast portion of per diem—in effect paying twice for
GAO-08-333 Governmentwide Purchase Cards