26 September 2023

Audit buys into purchase card usage

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The Auditor General has found that public sector credit card policies are in place, but improvements are required.

In her report Controls Over Purchasing Cards, Auditor General, Caroline Spencer said there had been a general improvement in controlling cards compared to the last report in 2017.

“Entities still need to improve their policies, the monitoring of purchasing card use, and better manage transaction limits,” Ms Spencer said.

“Purchasing cards offer significant benefits to State Government entities, suppliers and the environment,” she said.

“However, if not managed correctly, there is potential for improper, wasteful or unauthorised expenditure.”

She said entities needed to ensure appropriate controls were in place and be continually vigilant against misuse, with controls to be assessed on a regular basis.

Ms Spencer said that while entities generally had appropriate policies and administrative systems in place to manage the use of purchasing cards, the audit still identified examples of poor practice.

“In five of the nine entities sampled, there was no policy or clarification regarding the return of cards while on extended leave,” Ms Spencer said.

“Four of the entities also did not have a policy regarding the use of PayPal.”

She said the audit found a number of purchases in relation to food, gifts and alcohol.

“The policy at these entities is not clear on what is acceptable expenditure for hospitality, and delegated limits for these types of expenditure have not been set,” Ms Spencer said.

“Most entities need to apply better controls over the use of cards.”

She urged entity audit committees to follow up on the audit findings and ensure its recommendations were appropriately addressed by management in a timely manner.

The Auditor General’s 16-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

The audit team was Carly Meagher, Joanne Clarke, Carol Brownfield, Fatima Padia, Charmain Lin, Michelle Lai, Paula Du Plessis and Jojo Liew.

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