Committee Approves Bill to Crack Down on Federal Charge Card Waste and Abuse

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved a bipartisan bill to curb waste, fraud and abuse in federal agency travel and purchase cards spending. The Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act of 2015 (S. 1616) was introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) earlier this month. The legislation was approved unanimously by the committee by voice vote.


“Federal agencies have made progress in strengthening financial controls over government travel and purchase cards  – but recent reports have revealed that more needs to be done to eliminate wasteful charge card spending,” Sen. Carper said. “This bipartisan legislation would implement stronger and smarter controls to prevent potential abuse and misuse of government charge cards, and help ensure our taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly across federal agencies. I thank Sen. Grassley, Sen. McCaskill and Chairman Johnson for their partnership on this common sense, bipartisan bill.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that our federal agencies better communicate and coordinate to crack down on charge card abuse and misuse.”


“This bill builds on my Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 by adding an additional layer of government-wide oversight to the work of individual agency inspectors general,” Sen. Grassley said. “The recent Defense Department inspector general report, which was drafted in response to the 2012 law, highlighted some areas where the Defense Department was not properly implementing the required controls and flagged casinos as a high risk for misuse of charge cards. Our bill will make sure we’re looking for similar patterns of misuse across all federal agencies and that agencies are sharing best practices to prevent misuse and identify potential cost savings.”


“We’ve got the tools to prevent waste and fraud of government-issued change cards – and this legislation would finally give us the power to put them to use on a government-wide basis,” said Sen. McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor and top-ranking Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “By giving federal agencies the commonsense ability to better safeguard taxpayer dollars against abuses, it’s my hope we can give Americans a little more faith in their government.”


“I am pleased to partner with Ranking Member Carper to move this bill through committee,” Sen. Johnson said. “I have said from day one that I want to use my chairmanship of this committee to pass common sense reforms that protect the American taxpayer. This bill is a perfect example – instructing the GSA to do a better job of monitoring the billions of dollars of credit card transactions by federal bureaucrats makes sense and will hopefully serve to cut back on the waste and fraud of Washington.”


The Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act of 2015 would help prevent charge card misuse and abuse by establishing an Office of Federal Charge Card Analytics and Review within the Government Services Administration to continuously examine charge card purchases made across the federal government. The legislation would also facilitate improved anti-fraud information sharing among federal agencies that use purchase and travel cards, in addition to requiring those agencies to share best-practices for detecting and preventing waste, fraud and abuse. In addition, the bill would encourage agencies to leverage purchasing power through strategic sourcing.


Last month, a Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Inspector General report detailed how some employees at the Department misused government-issued charge cards to gamble and pay for adult entertainment. This legislation aims to prevent charge card misuse and abuse by implementing more oversight controls for travel and purchase cards across federal agencies.