Report Summary

Title: Audit of VHA's Engineering Service Purchase Card Practices at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, Charleston, SC
Report Number: 13-02267-124
Issue Date: 4/17/2014
City/State: Charleston, SC
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: OIG conducted this audit in response to an allegation received through the VA’s Office of Inspector General Hotline Division that the Engineering Service employees at the Ralph H. Johnson, VA Medical Center (VAMC), Charleston, SC, were splitting purchases to circumvent the $3,000 micro-purchase limit. We expanded our review to determine the extent Engineering Service employees inappropriately used purchase cards from October 2011 through May 2013. We substantiated the allegation that Charleston VAMC Engineering Service employees split purchases and identified improper purchase card payments. We sampled 139 purchases Engineering Services made during the period of October 2011 through May 2013, and found 40 were unauthorized commitments totaling $83,100 that avoided competition requirements. The 40 unauthorized commitments included 35 purchases valued at about $69,300 that cardholders split, and 5 purchases valued at about $13,800 that exceeded the micro-purchase limit for services. Engineering Service employees also made 33 purchases that we could not determine whether payments were appropriate because of insufficient documentation. The value of these improper payments was about $55,000. This occurred due to ineffective oversight of cardholder transactions and inadequate purchase card training of approving officials and cardholders. As a result, we estimated that Charleston VAMC’s Engineering Service cardholders made about $274,000 in unauthorized commitments and approximately $372,000 of purchases that lacked sufficient documentation. We recommended the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 7 Director review Charleston VAMC Engineering Service’s purchase card transactions for unauthorized commitments and purchases lacking sufficient documentation and process necessary ratification and payment recovery actions. Additionally, we recommended the VISN 7 Director improve purchase card practices by developing a process to ensure improved oversight and provide sufficient training. The VISN 7 Director concurred with the recommendations and provided an acceptable action plan.