P-cards ‘not misused’

After a months long investigation into the county’s purchasing card program, the Anderson County Finance and Purchasing Departments have determined that there is no evidence of county employees using the purchasing cards (p-cards) to misspend taxpayers’ money.

Anderson County Government uses a p-card — also referred to as procurement card — system to allow county employees and elected officials to purchase items for the county using a p-card when situations arise that involve spending money on behalf of the county for necessary items and equipment to keep the government functioning.

The p-card system is a way in which the county can keep track of and record every purchase order that is made on behalf of the county and is used to monitor and assess how much taxpayer money is actually being spent in every area of county government.

Advantages noted in using a p-card program to make purchases are the lower overall transaction processing costs per purchase, the increased management information that is released on purchasing histories under this program and how it provides a simplified way of handling the purchasing and payment process.

Katherine Ajmeri, the county’s deputy purchasing agent, released a written statement last month to county officials apprising them and the public that the Finance Department completed its investigation of the county’s p-card system and updated and revised some of the program’s policies and procedures to increase its efficiency going forward.

In March of this year, the p-card program was frozen, prohibiting employees from further using it, as part of a safety measure to keep the program secure after the former county purchasing agent resigned.

Tony Foreman, the former purchasing agent, was the county’s administrator of the p-card program. When Foreman resigned, the program was without an administrator.

The sudden freeze on p-card usage drew attention to the policies and procedures the county had in place.

Questions arose about how employees were using the p-cards. After looking at a list of previous transactions made by employees in the past year, officials noticed what looked like instances where employees could have been using the cards for non-work related purchases.

Anderson County Government opted to employ the purchasing card program in the early 2000s in an effort to improve the way the county handled its purchasing procedures.

Anderson County Commission spoke at length about the p-card program at their commission meeting in May of this year. The number of card holders was a top concern by commissioners. It was suggested by the majority of commission that the county should only provide a limited number of p-cards--preferably to department heads only, but also to employees whose jobs required they frequently make purchase orders for their department.

“The Purchasing Office has confirmed that the controls included when the program was originally implemented are still in place and being practiced,” stated Ajmeri in a statement released by the finance and purchasing departments informing the public of the recent updates that were made to the p-card program.

The controls that are still in place include: authorization of department heads of all requisitions that add funds to the purchasing cards; finance department reviews of all requisitions before funds are added to the card; and finance department reviews of all transactions to ensure the receipts match purchase orders.

The county’s finance committee has also been involved in ensuring safety measures are followed, and have taken action to underscore the need for department heads to take on more responsibility in ensuring that all p-card purchases for their departments are compliant with purchasing card policies.

Additional controls were also put in place, said Ajmeri.

The additional controls include the elimination of annual blanket purchase orders; requisitions must have specific information to ensure compliance with contracts; and there will be an annual review of all p-card accounts to confirm legitimate departmental need for all existing card accounts.

In closing the statement on the p-card program update, Ajmeri noted that the Finance Committee is currently in the process of researching options for a new contract for its p-card program because the county’s current contract with SunTrust Bank will expire in June 2018.