This study examined whether Government purchase card purchases related to Hurricane Katrina complied with card use requirements and identified lessons regarding how the Government purchase card program could be better administered during future emergencies. The purchase card program was designed to save the Government money by avoiding costly paperwork and to expedite the process of making purchases. The U.S. Bank handles the program for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to U.S. Bank data, during 2005, HHS cardholders used Government purchase cards for 851,511 purchases, totaling approximately $458 million. Of these, HHS officials identified 1,139 items totaling $2,109,173 related to Hurricane Katrina for the period of August 28 through December 14, 2005. For a stratified sample of 243 of these Hurricane Katrina purchases, researchers assessed whether the purchases complied with selected requirements for the use of the card. Researchers interviewed 62 cardholders who made these 243 purchases to gather relevant documentation.
Fifteen percent of purchases did not comply with selected purchase card requirements. Cardholders had concerns regarding the legality and complexity of some purchases and over half of cardholders expressed the need for additional written guidance regarding emergency purchasing procedures. Hurricane Katrina purchase data also contained inaccuracies.
Report Title: Emergency Response to Hurricane Katrina: Use of the Government Purchase Card, http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-06-00150.pdf
Agency Sponsor: OS-OIG, Office of Inspector General
Federal Contact: Claire Barnard, 202-205-9523
Performer: Office of Inspector General
PIC ID: 8784