HR Strange But True!
January 03, 2008

If you think your company's purchasing card is used a lot, wait to see the bill for state employees in Georgia. After conducting an analysis of more than four million transactions of employee purchasing cards, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimates that employee use of the state's purchasing-card program will reach a whopping $370 million this year.

Some of the charges listed in the analysis may seem strange, but they were actually for legitimate state business. For example, one charge for $51.55 at"The #1 Colon Cleansing and Body Detox Resource"--was actually a prize for a health fair raffle. Another $278.35 charge for tickets to DragonCon, a fantasy/sci-fi convention was for a special agent and a computer specialist who were attending to investigate hacking.

Are all the charged legitimate? In some cases, tracking employee use of the cards requires effort because the transaction histories list vendors but do not list items purchased. John Abbey, the director of performance operations at the state auditor, tells the newspaper that it's up to managers to check individual purchases to see whether they are legitimate.

"When you look down the list, unless it says something like 'Victoria 's Secret,' you won't know," Abbey tells the newspaper.

One Georgia police sergeant was accused of charging his tattoo work to the city when his personal account was frozen.

"They had done the work and I didn't have no choice," he says. Even though he did reimburse the city for the charge, it was a violation of policy, the newspaper reports.

When Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue heard about the results of a state audit, he ordered that all 129 state agencies review their charges in an attempt to curb spending and questionable charges. The state announced that audits of agencies will continue in an effort to curb fraudulent spending. Already spending has been reduced by 23 percent and nearly 1,200 cards have been deactivated, the statement says.

Here is just a small taste of the charges as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2005:

  • $13 million in travel expenses, including $6 million for plane tickets, $240,000 in booking fees and $6.1 million in hotel and resort charges.
  • $5,102 at the iTunes store  
  • $19,440 at salons and spas
  • Nearly $6 million at
  • $2.2 million at florists
  • $9.3 million at restaurants and caterers, including $657,000 at Chick-fil-A
  • At least $91,000 at jewelers
  • More than $56,000 on gift cards.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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