LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — An audit released by Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services last week says thousands of dollars worth of “inappropriate” items have been charged by state-issued credit card holders in recent years.
Maryland’s “Corporate Purchasing Card Program” is meant to be used for buying supplies and services on behalf of state agencies. Auditors observed purchases processed between December 25, 2009 and January 25, 2012. That included approximately 1.5 million transactions totaling $521 million.
When that analysis raised suspicion of potentially inappropriate activity, auditors extended the review to certain cardholder transactions before and after that period to determine the frequency and extent of violations.
They found that at least four cardholders made questionable purchases totaling $255,000. All cases were either prosecuted by or referred to the Office of the Attorney General. All cardholders were terminated by their respective agencies and some of their supervisors also faced repercussions.
One health department employee charged $45,640 worth of items that “appeared to have no legitimate business purpose,” the report says, including guitars, guitar accessories, watches, knives, toys and “men’s vitamins.”
The employee indicated on the program’s activity logs that the questionable purchases were for legitimate items such as ink cartridges and computer software.
Another employee at a Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) facility purchased 41 gift cards totaling $4,185 in 13 separate CPC transactions between May 2010 to April 2011, and was also found to have bought commercial kitchen equipment and large quantities of food that were never delivered to a DJS facility.
A University of Maryland Baltimore County employee purchased gift cards with a value totaling $4,356, and an employee of the Military Department made 372 questionable card purchases totaling $107,493, including gift cards and personal items such as home electronics and clothing.
Auditors recommended that the General Accounting Division, to improve the Corporate Purchasing Card Program, should amend its Program Manual to require State user agencies to regularly obtain and use card data, provide guidance to individual agencies on how the data can be used in verification procedures, and establish orientation and training programs to improve agencies’ management of the program.