New law cracks down on government charge card abuse

Friday - 10/5/2012, 7:13pm EDT

Agencies now face stricter rules for issuing and tracking government charge cards under a new law President Barack Obama signed Friday.

The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in 2011, passed the House in August.

The Senate voted again late last month to resolve differences between the two versions, clearing the way for final passage.

The bill requires agencies to create internal safeguards for spotting and stopping unauthorized purchases, including:

  • Running credit checks for travel-card users and restricting access for those with poor credit

  • Maintaining records of cardholders and their transaction limits

  • Periodically reviewing users to determine if there's if still a need for them to use charge cards

  • Providing training for charge-card users and

  • Directing agency inspectors general to conduct periodic risk assessments and audits to identify fraud.
"This bill is about accountability," Grassley said in a statement after the Senate approved the measure last month. "The public trust has been violated by abusive use of government charge cards. By putting some common-sense controls into the law, we can make certain the federal bureaucracy improves the way it responsibly manages the use of these cards."

Grassley cited misuse of agency cards at Defense Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, among other agencies. The Government Accountability Office has also identified cases, where federal employees used agency charge and travel cards to pay for jewelry, cruises and expenses at gentlemen's clubs.

The President also signed into law Friday two other bills affecting operations specifically at two agencies.

The FDA User Fee Corrections Act of 2012 makes technical changes to two Food and Drug Administration's generic-drug-user fee program and the medical-device-user fee program.

The Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to create an electronic system for tracking the shipping documents that accompany hazardous waste when it's transported to storage sites.

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