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P-cards: Looking at the numbers

The week before county commission met for its meeting on May 15, the county’s operations committee forwarded to full commission a request to discuss the p-card system on its commission agenda, but the item was not listed on the final agenda for the commission meeting.

First District Commissioner Tracy Wandell, who was the commissioner on operations who made the original request, said he saw this omission of the p-card discussion from the final agenda as political maneuvering —“the stuff that makes politics not fun” — and said he wanted to know why it seemed no one else in government seemed “to have no questions about this.”

Said Wandell, “I don’t know what the heck is going on. Everybody wants to turn it into a case of fraud. Who said this is fraud? I’m just wanting to make sure we have control of expenditures.”

Wandell said in the following weeks he will be requesting to see individual purchases and the pre-authorization forms assigned to those purchases.

With every purchase an employee plans to make using a p-card a pre-authorization form has to be filled out to justify the purchase.

“Can a p-card be used to make a purchase without a pre-authorization form?” asked Wandell.

“To my knowledge, no, the card cannot be used without going through the process of a requisition to turn it into a purchase order,” responded Erb.

“At what level is there anyone in this building who says, ‘that wasn’t a proper purchase?’ Who does that?” Wandell asked.

“In terms of who is ultimately responsible, it is a multi-level responsibility,” explained Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, “The individual cardholder at the end of the day has to know, you know, whether they signed a document or not, what is an allowable purchase with taxpayer money whether that’s done with the p-card, whether that’s done with cash, or with a check. There’s a level of responsibility there, then there’s a level of responsibility with the p-card process itself. Every financial system has multiple eyes looking at it.”

To Frank’s statement, Wandell responded that it is the department head who should be the only employee in possession of a p-card.

There are currently 49 p-cards in use across all county departments.

One of the suggestions is to reduce that amount in order to prevent abuse or fraud from occurring. Wandell is a proponent of reducing the number of p-cards in issuance and limiting them only to department heads.

“I don’t think we should have 49 p-cards out there,” he said, “The department head should be the only one with the p-cards.”

Another point that was brought up during the meeting with SunTrust was the confusion regarding whether or not transactions were made during the time the p-cards were ordered to be frozen.

“I’m looking at this report and it says there were purchases made every day from April 3 to April 13,” said Dist. 8 Commissioner Phil Yager. “Were these purchases queued up in the system?”

SunTrust representatives responded by saying they would look into the period in question and check to see whether the transactions were completed.

Wandell pointed out during the SunTrust meeting that total purchases with the p-card program have increased each year for the past two years.

In 2015, the county spent $422,706.99 on p-card purchases, and in 2016, the county spent $634,222.52.

“We’re already at $159,771.19 this year,” said Wandell.