NCUA Travel Card Charges Probed
An NCUA Office of Inspector General review of the agency’s purchase and travel card program found questionable transactions, which prompted suggestions for improvements.
The report covered activity from Oct. 1, 2012 through Sep. 30, 2013.
“We concluded that for individually billed account [IBA] travel cards, 1.65% of the non-travel related Merchant Category Code [MCC] transactions were questionable,” the OIG said in the report dated March 31. “We also concluded that for centrally billed account [CBA] purchase cards, less than 1% of the non-travel related MCC transactions were questionable, and we found no exceptions related to CBA travel cards,”
According to the OIG, the NCUA issues travel cards to most of its approximately 1,260 employees.
“Federal employees are required to use their federal travel charge cards for all expenses related to official government travel where merchants accept the card for payment,” the report read.
The OIG evaluated 15,000 MCC transactions to identify unusual merchant codes or vendor names. In total, 903 transactions of roughly $92,400 were considered unusual and required additional explanation.
“For each of these 903 unusual transactions, we inquired with the cardholders and requested they provide a description of the transaction(s), business purpose, a copy of the invoice, and any associated documentation related to a claim for reimbursement, which we later traced to the employees’ travel reimbursement vouchers,” the report read.
After reviewing the documentation cardholders had provided, the OIG identified 108 improper transactions totaling about $9,700 in non-travel related transactions.
“We concluded these charges were improper because either the transaction was for a personal non-business related expenditure, or the employee could not provide satisfactory supporting evidence to support the transaction,” the report stated. “Examples of these types of charges included commuter rail charges, professional memberships, and various insurance expenditures, such as travel insurance.”
The OIG recommended that NCUA’s management provide cardholders with stronger annual transaction-specific training to ensure that every cardholder is aware of permissible charges.
In response, NCUA Executive Director Mark Treichel indicated that the agency is currently providing training on travel cards to each new employee during orientation or as part of new examiner training. According to Treichel, the NCUA plans refresher travel card training for cardholders and supervisors in 2015 as part of the NCUA's Learn Center.
“We will continue to emphasize during employee training sessions the importance of the proper use of travel charge cards and expand our examples of expressly prohibited charges,” Treichel said in his letter.