Washington, D.C. – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved legislation introduced by Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) to crack down on government purchase card abuse. The bill requires stricter controls on the use of government credit cards. Under the Collins-Feingold legislation, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would provide guidance to agencies to better train their cardholders and more effectively analyze their spending data. The legislation would also direct the General Services Administration (GSA) to improve its efforts to secure discounts with vendors and to continue working to obtain useful data that will give the federal government a better idea of what is being purchased with purchase cards. The legislation must now be considered by the Senate.
“The American people have the right to expect the federal government to spend their tax dollars carefully and wisely,” Senator Collins said. “The GAO has identified missed savings due to a lack of training and management oversight in the purchase card program, including purchase card holders who failed to take advantage of readily available discounts and agencies that failed to negotiate lower prices with vendors. These cardholders and agencies are missing the boat. Our legislation will help to rein in such irresponsible government spending practices.”
“Any program that lets someone use a government credit card to buy designer luggage needs serious reform right away,” said Feingold. “I’m pleased that the legislation Senator Collins and I introduced to tighten the use of government credit cards is one step closer to becoming law. At a time when our country is facing record deficits, our bill will help end the misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
In 2003, Senators Collins and Feingold Collins asked the General Accounting Office, now the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to study the possible abuse of government purchase cards. It its report detailing abuses and misuses of government purchase cards, the GAO estimated that $300 million could be saved annually with better oversight of purchase card use. The GAO also found that the use of government purchase cards between 1994 and 2003 increased from $1 billion to $16 billion.
As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Collins last year held a hearing to examine the government’s use of purchase cards.