Policy Retraining Required After $100k in Flagged Purchases

January 5, 2017

When it comes to the success of purchasing card (P-Card) programs, ensuring employees are adequately trained on company policies is essential, as city officials in Fort Myers have discovered.

After the media revealed that a city worker had been accused of misusing public funds, the city has decided to retrain employees. The city’s purchasing department is also conducting an annual review of the purchasing policy, which hasn’t been modified since 2005.

The need for retraining became clear after a police investigation led to a city employee being accused of using his P-Card for personal purchases, including boat supplies and tactical flashlights.

Because the State Attorney’s Office found there to be a lack of evidence, charges were not filed against the employee. The most recent P-Card audit completed by the city’s purchasing department showed that approximately 25% of expenses from October to November—what amounted to more than $110,000—were flagged as questionable or requiring further investigation.

Although these items aren’t necessarily in violation of company policy, a significant amount of time and effort must be spent obtaining more information to help the purchasing department determine the legitimacy of the purchases.

For the city, commonly flagged items include office tools and supplies, which may be because some of these items are available through the city’s office supply contract, so the P-Card program prohibits them.

Other flagged purchases included charitable donations, flights and hotels, though all were found to be legitimate and acceptable.

A spokesperson for the city admits that there is confusion about its purchasing policies, and that some employees may make purchases that are for both city and personal use. The city is hopeful that retraining employees in regards to P-Card policies will help reduce any perceived gray areas going forward.

Another solution to the City of Fort Myers’ problems would be the implementation of an automated continuous monitoring platform, such as Alessa. It continuously monitors P-Card transactions, immediately reporting any anomalies or non-compliance. Over time the system also helps reduce the number of false positives that must be investigated, and determines the root cause of problems.

To learn more about how the CaseWare can improve your P-Card program, watch our webinar on preventing P-Card abuse and misuse now.

About Anu Sood 

Anu Sood (LinkedIn | Twitter) is the Director Marketing at CaseWare RCM and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. She has over 20 years of experience in product development, product management, product marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing and strategic marketing in high-tech industries.

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