Georgia Government Employees Use Purchasing Cards for Personal Items

ATLANTA (AP) _ Government employees have used state-issued
purchasing cards for everything from tattoos to concert tickets.

That's according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of
three years of records.

The analysis shows the program started as a way for workers to
buy office supplies, but now it has turned into a spending spree
that could rack up $370 million dollars this year.

There are now more than 23,000 of the so-called p-cards, which are credit cards billed to government agencies. And the cards
have been used to buy hundreds of thousands of items, including $13
million dollars in travel expenses, nearly $6 million
dollars at online retailer and more than $9 million dollars at restaurants and caterers.

Georgia's p-card policy bans the purchases of gift cards, and
prohibits using the cards for professional services. It also makes
entertainment off-limits, and specifically bans the personal use of
the cards.

The cards have come under increased scrutiny after an October
audit showed widespread abuse of the cards. The report prompted
Governor Sonny Perdue to order all 129 state agencies using the
cards to review their purchases.

The state's latest review in November of p-card payments have
turned up no new cases of fraud. Perdue's office said last week
that the state plans to audit several more agencies, including
Georgia Tech.

State auditors will have their hands full. It is difficult to
track the spending, because transactions list vendors and not
individual items. And some of the suspicious-looking charges turn
out to be authorized.

A $278 dollar charge by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for
gaming convention DragonCon tickets, for instance, paid for two
agents to attend a session to investigate hacking. And an $853
dollar charge by a Forsyth County worker for NASCAR tickets was a
prize for an employee appreciation luncheon.

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