US Senate Approves the Collins-Lieberman Provision To Help Ensure Responsible Government Purchases Related To Hurricane Katrina

WASHINGTON, DC— The Senate has approved a measure coauthored by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman that will help reduce waste and abuse in federal expenditures related to Hurricane Katrina. The Senators’ legislation repeals a provision that was recently signed into law related to “micro-purchases” by federal employees via government-issued purchase cards. A provision in the second Katrina supplemental spending bill increased the limit for such credit card purchases from $2,500 to $250,000. The Collins-Lieberman bill repeals this increase for normal, routine purchases and provides for a $15,000 spending limit for emergency purchases. The measure was approved unanimously by the committee earlier this month.

“Over 300,000 federal employees have government purchase cards. A spending limit of $250,000 opens the door to misuse and abuse of these cards. We should not allow the needs of the disaster to trump the need for oversight and accountability for the spending that will occur by using these purchase cards. Wasting money does nothing to help Katrina victims,” said Senators Collins and Lieberman.

The increase in the micropurchase spending limit was originally requested by the Administration to help expedite relief efforts during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Senators Collins and Lieberman and others objected to the provision at the time it was enacted, and recently the Administration agreed that keeping the higher spending limit in place leaves the system vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.