Purchasing cards are a significant procurement tool in Western Australian (WA) government agencies, with 27,735 cards used to purchase $480 million in goods and services in 2015-16. Purchasing cards enable agencies and suppliers to reduce costs and streamline business processes while the reduced use of paper can also benefit the environment.
However, the potential for improper or unauthorised use of purchasing cards means they need to be well managed – a risk evidenced by periodic and ongoing identification of misuse across the private and public sectors. Agencies therefore need to ensure appropriate controls are in place and be continually vigilant against misuse.
The use of WA government purchasing cards is governed by the Financial Management Act 2006 and Treasurer’s Instructions (TIs) particularly TI 321 Credit Cards – Authorised Use. The Western Australian Government Purchasing Card Guidelines (July 2016) provide further information to agencies on using and managing purchasing cards.
We have undertaken a number of previous across government audits of government purchasing cards. The most recent audit was in 2014. In that audit we identified a range of issues and concluded that there had been no significant improvement in policies and practices since our previous report in 2009.