News Column

City-issued credit cards cut by a third

July 23, 2014

By Pat Kimbrough, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.



July 23--HIGH POINT -- The number of city-issued credit cards in circulation has been reduced by nearly one-third following a review.

Interim City Manager Randy McCaslin said the total number of procurement cards, or P-cards, in use by the city's 1,400 employees was recently whittled from 360 to 248, a reduction of 112 cards, or 31 percent.

City Council asked for a review of the cards after questions were raised concerning whether they were being used to charge meals and other personal purchases unrelated to city business.

Council said they also found that the city was accounting for meals charged on the cards as office supplies in the budget.

The reductions were made after city department directors, finance and purchasing staff reviewed the usage of the cards.

"We will continue to monitor the issuance of new cards to insure that only those employees who truly need a P-card for necessary operational purposes are issued a card," McCaslin said.

City officials say the cards are an efficient way for employees to buy small items they need to perform their duties and that they haven't been abused.

All transactions are reviewed by department heads and purchasing department personnel, as well as the city's outside auditors.

But some council members -- namely, Jim Davis, Foster Douglas and Jeff Golden -- have suggested an intensive financial examination of the P-cards known as a forensic audit might be beneficial.

Davis said the idea is still under consideration but has not moved forward.

Other council members say the city has adequate checks in place to guard against fraud and that reducing the number of cards could create more problems than it solves.

Councilwoman Becky Smothers said it now might take longer to get purchases approved.

"It would be a shame if the lack of obtaining a part due to a wait for authorization would cause a time lapse in getting something done," she said.

Earlier this year, at the behest of council, the city changed the P-card policy to prohibit charges for meals by employees within Guilford, Davidson, Forsyth and Randolph counties.

Prior to the changes and the reduction in the number of cards, the city typically spent about $4.5 million per year with them.

The changes are expected to generate savings; city staff says they don't know yet how much.

Council is also looking into hiring an internal auditor for the city in response to the P-card concerns. The city used to have such a position but has been without one for more than a decade.

A survey of larger local governments across the state found that most have some form of internal auditing staff, McCaslin said.

A consultant advised the city that, if an internal auditing position is added, it should offer an annual salary range of $41,519 to $64,873.

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(c)2014 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)

Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpe.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: High Point Enterprise (NC)


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