Auditor Yost Releases ‘Best Practices’ to Fight Abuse of Government Credit Cards
Columbus – Because many local governments are at risk of theft and other misuse of government credit and debit cards, Auditor of State Dave Yost today released a “Best Practices” newsletter to show local government officials how to prevent this rip-off of taxpayers.
Since 2011, unscrupulous government employees have stolen or misused more than $1.2 million by exploiting lax credit-card policies.
“While many local governments avoid debit cards altogether and have strict controls on credit-card use,” Auditor Yost said, “some are flirting with danger by using debit cards. Many more put their tax dollars at risk by failing to establish policies to ensure that credit cards are used for legitimate government purposes and not for the personal enrichment of government employees, who have misused them to buy big-screen televisions, cars and visits to strip clubs.”
Coinciding with Cyber Monday, the “Best Practices” report is based on Credit Card Dangers: Local Governments at Risk of Theft, a special report issued by the Auditor in July.
The special report was based on survey responses of 1,646 local governments. It found that many have no formal policies controlling credit-card use.
Among other things, the “Best Practices” recommends restricting the number of people with access to credit cards, requiring detailed receipts for credit-card transactions, spending limits, and a list of proper and improper credit card uses.
House Bill 312, introduced in July by State Rep. Kirk Schuring (Canton) and Rep. Dave Greenspan (Westlake), would require local governments to establish credit card policies to protect tax dollars. The bill would:
- Require all government entities to enact a credit card policy detailing allowable uses, number of cards, who can use them, credit limits and reissue periods.
- Require for some governmental entities, that accounts and policies be reviewed regularly by an appointed compliance officer other than the treasurer of the government entity.
- Ban the use of debit cards, except for certain law-enforcement purposes.
- Authorize the Auditor of State to create rules for the disclosure and audit of credit-card rewards accrued by local governments.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.