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

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate 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), introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

“I thank Senators Grassley, McCaskill, and Johnson for their partnership on this bipartisan bill,” said Sen. Carper. “This common sense legislation would implement stronger and smarter controls to prevent potential abuse and misuse of government charge cards. While federal agencies have made progress in strengthening financial controls over government travel and purchase cards, more needs to be done to eliminate wasteful charge card spending. Congress must continue to work across the aisle to ensure that federal agencies crack down on charge card abuse and taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly across the federal government.  I encourage my colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve this legislation and send it to the President for his signature.”

“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,” said Sen. Grassley. “Earlier this year, a 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.”

“What we’ve done here to help agencies find and end the waste, fraud, and abuse of government-issued charge cards is a no-brainer,” said Sen. McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor and top-ranking member on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “We owe it to the taxpayers to make sure these cards are being used for legitimate business purposes, and not as a personal credit card. This is the kind of commonsense legislation that’ll easily save taxpayer dollars and help give Americans a little more confidence in their federal government.”

“The federal government needs to do more to monitor and analyze the data on the travel and purchase cards of federal employees,” said Sen. Johnson. “We can use this data to find fraudulent uses of employee cards and determine where agencies are repetitively spending money on items that could be bought in bulk at lower cost.  I am pleased that our bipartisan bill to address these concerns has moved through the full Senate, and I hope the improvements will be quickly implemented.”

The Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act of 2015 helps prevent charge card misuse and abuse by requiring 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.

Earlier this year, 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.