Federal agencies collectively have spent at least $20 million in small purchases just this year. This purchasing activity occurs “under the radar” with little or no public accountability on government credit cards (“Pcards”). Many of these purchases are questionable, such as the recent revelation that one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year.
Those are among the findings of the local television affiliate of NBC News in Washington, DC in connection with records obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
The News4 I-Team reported that “the purchases, known among federal employees as ‘micropurchases,’ are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies.” Micropurchases are transactions less than $3,000.
Recent government audits show inappropriate purchases such as a gym membership, spa service, and JC Penney clothing.
Two federal agencies — the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of the Interior — shared information about their Pcard purchases with the television news station, but several other agencies refused to do so. Among those agencies declining to make their records public are the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Reasons for not making public their micropurchase records ranged from claims that there are no rules making such purchasing public to not having records in a centralized database.
The complete news report can be seen at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Government-Made-20-Billion-in-Secret-Purchases-in-Recent-Months-280997562.html.