Credit Cards – Getting A Bad Rap?

» Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The GSA website provides an interesting perspective on the issue of the misuse of Government Smartpay credit cards. We have all seen stories about Government employees using Smartpay cards to make outrageous purchases, but are these articles the tip of an iceberg of misuse or an abberation? A reading of various FAQs on the site suggests that the credit cards have received a bad rap not because they are widely misused, but because the system readily discloses such misuse, exposing those who try to use the cards for improper purposes. GSA contends that misuse accounts for only a very small percentage of overall use.

According to GSA, banks under contract to the Smartpay program must provide an assortment of protections against misuse. Under the program agencies may limit credit lines, use Merchant Category codes (which designate the type of business) to limit where cards may be use, access internet reports on use, monitor account activity, search for accounts with excessive disputes, arrange for reports of unusual spending activity, and locate accounts where cards have repeatedly been reported lost or stolen. According to GSA, agencies can arrange to receive customized reports to alert them to problems.

Apparently, agencies have available the tools to closely monitor and limit employee use of Smartpay cards. What GSA does not tell us is whether, and to what extent, agencies are using these tools and, to what extent employees are disciplined for card misuse. Even GSA admits that no Governmentwide policies exist concerning disciplining employees for card misuse and that most employees receive minimal training in what they may properly use the cards for. Rather than suggest that agencies need to correct this situation, I question why GSA does not issue Governmentwide requirements on training and discipline.

by Scott Goldsmith

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