Senate Approves Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Misuse and Abuse of Government Purchase and Travel Cards

WASHINGTON—Today, the Senate approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to crack down on 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 would help prevent charge card misuse and abuse by requiring agencies to take a series of steps to strengthen accountability and oversight over purchases made using federal government charge cards.

“Federal agencies have made progress in strengthening financial controls over government travel and purchase cards, but more needs to be done to root out waste and abuse in charge card spending. By helping agencies better track and analyze card charges, we can curb wasteful spending and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent more wisely and effectively across the federal government,” Senator Carper said. “This bill will save taxpayer dollars, and it’s a great example of what Democrats and Republicans can accomplish by working together. I hope my colleagues in the House of Representatives will move expeditiously to this bill come September and send it to the president’s desk.”

“This bill builds on my successfully enacted 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 Senator Grassley. “We’ve seen progress, as in a Defense Department inspector general report written in response to the 2012 law that 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. This bill will help us continue down the right path. It’ll 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.”

“One of my top priorities in the Senate is making sure that Missourians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately and efficiently,” said Senator McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor. “I’m glad to have come together with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to crack down on federal employees who are using government dollars for their own personal gain.”

Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) are cosponsors of the bill. The Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act would:

  • Establish Federal-Wide Charge Card Analysis and Oversight. The legislation directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to review its existing database of charge card purchases of federal agencies for patterns of potential misuse. Under existing law, individual agencies must establish certain types of control and oversight over charge card usage, but only the GSA has government-wide data that can reveal patterns agencies might miss on their own. Under this bill, GSA would assist agencies by conducting sophisticated, federal-wide analysis of the data for potential waste and fraud.
  • Help Agencies Share Information and Best Practices. Federal agencies do not routinely share information about the use and abuse of charge cards. As a result, agencies might not learn and/or establish best practices to address spending issues. Under the bill, agencies would share with each other information about fraud schemes, high-risk sellers, and other information that might help prevent charge card abuse and fraud.
  • Support Strategic Sourcing. The sharing and analysis of charge card data helps agencies better leverage federal purchasing power through what is often called “strategic sourcing.” This analysis helps to determine when agencies are purchasing numerous amounts of an item with purchase cards that could be bought in a more cost-effective manner, such as with negotiated discounts.