ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCE CENTER Government Purchase Card June 2002



1. Purpose 11. Tax Exemption
2. References 12. Orders by Telephone or Internet
3. Background 13. Delegation of Authority/Training
4. Definitions 14. Card Issuance Procedures
5. Use of the Purchase Card 15. Responsibilities
6. Card Abuse 16. Actions Required on Monthly Statements
7. Purchase Limitations 17. Security of Cards
8. Mandatory Sources 18. Lost or Stolen Cards
9. Office Supplies and JWOD 19. Convenience Checks
10. Prohibited Purchases 20. Monitoring Purchase Card Activity


The purpose of this guide is to provide employees with instructions on the proper use of the Government Purchase Card (GPC) as a supplement to Simplified Acquisitions and other Simplified Purchase Procedures for obtaining goods and services. These procedures are intended for Cardholders that are responsible for making micro-purchases.

Procedures for Cardholders in the accounting and procurement functions that make purchases related to a previously recorded obligation are not covered in this manual.


Federal Supply Service Contract Guide GS-23F-98004
(Government Commercial Credit Card Service).

Treasury Directive 76-04 Government Purchase Card Program

31 CFR 208 Management of Federal Agency Disbursements


The Federal Government has used various methods over the years to accommodate the purchase of expendable supplies. Often times these methods were not widely accepted by vendors because of the amount of time required for payment to be received. To improve mission support and efficiency of operations, the General Services Administration initiated the Purchase Card Program under the authority of the Office of Management and Budget. A delivery order against the GSA Contract Guide authorizes the Bureau of the Public Debt to use this program. The Department of Treasury uses Citibank MasterCard for its card program.


For the purpose of these instructions, certain terms used herein are defined as follows:

Accounting Strip Code – The Accounting Strip Code, or ASC, is a combination of accounting codes that is used in the CitiDirect Purchase Card System to assign accounting codes to purchase card transactions. An ASC consists of a fund, budget fiscal year, cost center, standard general ledger, budget object code, reporting category, and project code, as defined and established in the Oracle Federal Financials accounting system. Each ASC is assigned a description to identify the accounting strip combination.

Agency Program Coordinator – The Agency Program Coordinator (APC) is the person responsible for managing the purchase card program and serves as the liaison with Citibank. The APC establishes the policies and procedures and the training requirements for the purchase card program. The APC also appoints Approving Officials in writing; sets up new Cardholder accounts and completes all maintenance actions on these accounts; delegates contracting authority to Cardholders in writing; conducts periodic reviews of Cardholder’s accounts; and serves as the focal point for answering questions. The APC for BPD is Becky Thompson in the Division of Procurement and she can be reached at 304-480-7079 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Approving Official – The Approving Official (AO) in each office is the person who will review and approve monthly Cardholder statements, ensuring that the statements are complete, accurate, and reflect only authorized purchases as defined herein. The AO will also assist the Cardholder in resolving disputed payments.

Alternate Approving Official – An Alternate Approving Official is appointed by the APC in writing and acts as the Approving Official (AO) in the AO’s absence.

Cardholder – The Government employee who is issued a Government Purchase Card.

CitiDirect – CitiDirect is a purchase card system offered by Citibank that enables agencies to reconcile, submit, and monitor purchase card transactions online. Approving Officials submit monthly statements, called e-statements, using CitiDirect. The e-statements become invoices in the accounting system.

Convenience Checks – Convenience checks are checks written against a Cardholder’s purchase card account. Convenience checks give Cardholders the flexibility to buy from merchants who don’t accept the purchase card.

Cycle Date – The cycle date or billing cycle date is the date on which the bank bills the Cardholders each month. All purchase card accounts have the same cycle date–the 8th of the month. The Cardholder’s monthly statement will reflect all charges received by the bank for billing from the 9th of the preceding month to the close of business on the 8th of the current month. The related e-statement becomes available in CitiDirect around the 10th of the month.

E-Statement – An e–statement is the equivalent of a monthly purchase card statement within the CitiDirect system. The e-statement replaces the paper statements for official reconciliation and payment purposes.

Financial Official – The Financial Official (FO) manages the standard reallocation process by defining the ASCs used by the agency/organization, adding valid values to the ASCs online, and defining and assigning templates. Cardholders or Approving Officials can then use assigned ASCs when reallocating transactions to the proper accounting code within the CitiDirect application. Cardholders may be assigned templates for creating their own custom ASCs, when purchase practices warrant a large number of ASC combinations.

Office Program Coordinator – The Office Program Coordinator is responsible for managing the purchase card program for a designated office or organizational unit. The Office Program Coordinator serves as liaison between the Agency Program Coordinator and the Cardholders and Approving Officials within the office. The Office Program Coordinator ensures the office or organizational unit is complying with the Purchase Card Program’s policies and procedures.

Reallocate – Reallocate in the CitiDirect system is the process of changing the default ASC to an alternative one for a purchase card transaction. A single purchase card transaction may be reallocated to 100 different ASCs.


The Government Purchase Card is intended to supplement the Simplified Acquisitions and other Simplified Purchase Procedures in the procurement process. The Bureau Chief Procurement Officer shall delegate procurement authority to the Government employee requesting use of a Government Purchase Card. The authority establishes single and monthly dollar limits. These amounts are subject to change.

The purchase is the responsibility of the Cardholder. The Approving Official, however, is ultimately responsible for the proper and correct administration of the program within his/her office. Approving Officials have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring Government funds are used effectively and efficiently. The Approving Official is responsible for verifying, certifying, and submitting the monthly e-statement, after the Cardholder reconciles it.

The unique Purchase Card that a Cardholder receives from the contractor has his or her name embossed on it. No other individual may use this card. It has been specifically designed so that it will not be confused with your personal credit cards. In all respects, this is considered a regular credit card. This card must not be used for personal purchases, travel-related expenditures, or car rentals.

The contractor, in issuing this card to Federal employees, has established a number of steps in the authorization process that are taken each time the card is used. The merchant will use an electronic or telecommunication method for obtaining authorization on all purchases. Such authorization ensures that purchases are within the single purchase and monthly purchase limits as established by the Approving Official.

Purchase card transactions are recorded in the accounting system after the cardholder has already made the purchase, during the month-end processing of e-statements in the CitiDirect system. Cardholders are responsible for ensuring funds are available prior to making a purchase with a purchase card. Often the Cardholder is also an employee with budget monitoring responsibilities, and is aware of the funds availability of the organization he or she is purchasing for.


There will not be a credit check on the personal credit history of a Cardholder. Intentional use of this card for other than official Government business will be considered as an attempt to commit fraud against the U.S. Government and may result in the immediate cancellation of the card and disciplinary action against the Cardholder under applicable Government-wide administrative procedures. The Cardholder will be personally liable to the Government for the amount of any non-approved purchases and possible subjection to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, under 18 U.S.C.287.


The Purchase Card is to be used in the same manner as small purchases and must meet the following conditions:

  1. The total of a single purchase may be comprised of multiple items, but cannot exceed the assigned single purchase limitation. Single purchases may not be split between two or more transactions to circumvent the limits.
  2. The items purchased are not available in the agency’s in-stock inventory.
  3. The supplies purchased are immediately available for delivery from the merchant. All items purchased over the counter to be paid for using the card must be immediately available. No backordering is allowed. The merchant must deliver all items purchased by telephone within the 30-day billing cycle. The order should not be placed without this assurance.
  4. Funds are available within the Approving Official’s administrative allowance. Use of the Oracle Discoverer system is recommended for each cardholder, as a tool to easily monitor the current status of funds available.


Cardholders are subject to these requirements that are contained in FAR Part 8, “Required Sources of Supply,”. Micro purchases ($2500.00 and below) are not exempt from this requirement.

By law, the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act Program (JWOD) is a mandatory source program for the Federal Government. The program was established as a result of the passage of the Wagner-O’Day Act of 1938. That Act, and subsequent amendments are designed to promote the socioeconomic goal of generating employment and training opportunities for persons who are blind or are otherwise severely disabled. The JWOD Program carries the highest socioeconomic priority involving Federal acquisitions in that no other provision of the FAR permits exception to the mandatory nature of JWOD products and services provided by the National Industries for the Blind and NISH nonprofit agencies and only the Federal Prison Industries can override JWOD’s priority for products. In addition, the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 do not amend the mandate to procure JWOD products and services set forth in the JWOD Act. Purchase Cardholders are prohibited from acquiring supplies equivalent to JWOD items from other sources, including discount office supply stores and firms supplying Federal agencies under the consolidated office supply contracts except as provided in Section 9 below. The JWOD program uses the General Services Administration (GSA) as the prime distributor of its office supplies and other common-use items. Therefore, all such mandatory source items must be purchased directly from GSA. Further detailed guidance for the purchase of office supplies follows in Section 9 below.

Federal Prison Industries (FPI) provides training and employment for prisoners confined in Federal prison and correctional institutions through the sale of supplies and services to Federal agencies. Cardholders are required to purchase those supplies listed in the FPI schedule only from FPI to the extent the supplies are otherwise not prohibited under Section 10.

The procurement requirements in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 6962) and Executive Order 13101 of September 14, 1998, Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition, apply to purchases at or below the micro-purchase threshold. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated products posted on their website at http://www.epa.gov/cpg/. Cardholders are to refer to this list when purchasing supplies that contain recovered material or services that could include supplies that contain recovered material. FAR Part 23.4 contains further guidance on the Use of Recovered Materials.


GSA and the following GSA Multiple Award Office Supply Schedule contractors are the exclusive distributors of JWOD office supplies with the following ordering options:

  1. GSA Advantage On-Line Shopping Service. This internet site allows customers to browse, search and review prices and delivery options before placing an order on the Internet. GSA Advantage is the recommended method for ordering supplies..
  2. GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program. In addition to acquiring office supplies directly from GSA, high quality office supplies under the JWOD Program are available from commercial vendors under GSA’s Multiple Award Office Products Next Day Delivery Program. In the case of unusually large orders, you should ask for further quantity discounts. The Office Supply Schedules are available from the following vendors:
Office Depot
Schedule # GS-14F-0171D
Point of Contact: Jeffrey Hawting
8870 Greenwood Place
Savage MD 20763
P# 1-800-487-4585 or 301-497-7175
F# 1-800-780-9797
Staples National Advantage
Schedule # GS-14F-0173D
Point of Contact: George Guider
45 East Wesley Street
So Hackensack NJ 07606
P# 1-800-538-2728 or 201-488-2900
F# 1-800-538-2730
Boise Cascade Office Products
Schedule # GS-14F-0169D
Point of Contact: Mark Heuer
1307 Dolley Madison Blvd
McLean VA 22015
P# 1-888-505-3337 or 703-761-3080
F# 1-800-642-6473
BT Office Products Intl
Schedule # GS-14F-0172D
Point of Contact: Brian Caskie
9301 Largo Drive West
Springdale MD 20774
P# 1-800-759-4466 X1-8332 or 301-499-5800
F# 1-800-684-0710
Corporate Express
Schedule # GS-14F-0170D
Point of Contact: Jeff Muehlieb
7700 Port Capital Drive
Baltimore MD 21227
P# 1-800-706-9267 or 703-293-6442
F# 1-800-706-9249
Innovative Sales Brokers Inc
Schedule # GS-14F-0196D
Point of Contact: Customer Service Dept
14261 E 4th Ave
Aurora CO 80011
P# 1-800-283-1903 or 303-343-0500
F# 1-888-367-4724 or 303-367-4724

These GSA Multiple award vendors accept the Government purchase card. Product schedules are available to Cardholders by phoning the telephone numbers listed above. It is recommended that Cardholders obtain product schedules from each of the GSA multiple award vendors and utilize either the GSA Advantage On-Line Shopping Service or the GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program to acquire office supplies. GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program vendors are prohibited from selling commercial products that are essentially the same as JWOD products.

For further information to assist you in locating sources that can supply required products and services contact:

  1. Committee for Purchase from People Who are Blind or Severely Disabled, visit their website or call 703-603-7740
  2. National Industries for the Blind, visit their website or call 1-800-433-2304
  3. NISH, visit their website or call 703-560-6800
  4. GSA Stock Program, visit GSA Advantage or call 1-800-525-8027 or fax your order to 1-800-856-7957
  5. GSA Federal Supply Schedules, visit their website or call 1-800-FSS-0070
  6. Federal Prison Industries Inc, visit their website or call 1-800-827-3168
  7. For excess supplies from other agencies, visit GSA’s website at http://www.gsa.gov or call 703-305-7240


The Purchase Card will not be used for the following items:

  1. Purchases of software or equipment that must be reviewed and/or controlled by the agency.
  2. Travel-related expenses:
    1. Rental or lease of motor vehicles on official travel.
    2. Purchase of gasoline to operate a rental vehicle.
    3. Purchase of airline, train, bus, or boat, or other travel related tickets.
    4. Purchase of meals, drinks, lodging, or other travel or subsistence costs.
  3. Purchase of personal clothing or footwear except in emergency situations, when required for safety or when specifically authorized by the agency.
  4. Cash advances through an automated teller machine or through a bank teller.
  5. Purchase of employee awards.
  6. Telephone calls.
  7. Prepayment of any supplies.
  8. Any item listed on the attached Treasury “Don’t Buy” List.
  9. Rental or lease of land or buildings.


At the time of purchase, over-the counter or telephone, Cardholders will advise the merchant that the purchase is for official U.S. Government purposes and, therefore, is not subject to state or local sales tax. The Purchase Card is also embossed on the face with the Statement “U.S. Government Tax Exempt.”


When placing a telephone order using the card, the cardholder will:

  1. Determine that the merchant contacted accepts a credit card.
  2. Request price and delivery information. Purchases must be readily available for shipment/delivery.
  3. Give the merchant the following information:
  1. Your name as it appears on your purchase card.
  2. Your purchase card number and expiration date.
  3. Confirm items purchased, quantity of each item, unit price of each item, and the extended total of each item.
  4. A reminder that the purchase is not subject to sales tax.
  1. Items that cannot be physically received by the Cardholder are to be addressed and shipped directly to the purchaser, at their office address. “PURCHASE CARD” must be shown prominently on the shipping label; receiving areas shall be notified that any such marked package must be immediately delivered directly to the addressee. Any problems with shipments, receipt, etc. must be brought to the immediate attention of the Approving Official or other designated person in your agency.

When placing an order using the Internet, the Cardholder should ensure the merchant’s web page is secure. A small picture of a lock will appear in the bottom of the screen when the connection is secure.


The Division of Procurement will appoint Cardholders in writing. The appointment will show the Cardholder is authorized to purchase and what the maximum dollar amounts are. Cards are usually established with individual transaction limits of $2500 or less. Cardholders with higher purchasing authority must meet additional training requirements.

All Cardholders and Approving Officials are required to receive on-line training, found at http://www.fss.gsa.gov/webtraining/trainingdocs/smartpaytraining/index.cfm. A completed training certificate must be forwarded to the Accounting Services Division prior to participation in the program. Periodic refresher training courses may be required.


The Office Program Coordinator must forward completed application forms, a CitiDirect set-up worksheet, and completed training certificates, to the Accounting Services Division for an employee to be issued a Government Purchase Card. Forms can be found at http://arc.publicdebt.treas.gov/fs/fsacctforms.htm.

The Office Program Coordinator must also specify the proposed monetary limits for the Cardholder. Limits consist of the single purchase limit, the monthly limit, and the office limit. A single purchase may include multiple items. However, no single purchase may exceed the authorized single purchase limit established for each Cardholder. Requirements may not be split up to circumvent this limit. Payments for purchases are not to be split in order to stay within the single purchase limit.

The Office Program Coordinator, Approving Official, and/or Cardholder must also specify the default ASC assigned to the Cardholder. Alternate ASCs may be assigned also. The Accounting Services Division will assist Office Program Coordinators in establishing the appropriate ASCs for each Cardholder.

Each Cardholder is assigned a default ASC that is the most commonly used ASC for a Cardholder. The default ASC is automatically assigned to each transaction in the CitiDirect system. The default ASC helps the cardholder reconcile the e-statement more easily, and enables the e-statement to automatically close and be recorded to a valid ASC in the event a Cardholder and Approving Official fails to submit the e-statement in CitiDirect.

The Cardholder or the Approving Official may cancel purchase cards upon written request to the Division of Procurement. The Purchase Card may be destroyed by the Cardholder and need not accompany the cancellation request. Employees who have been transferred to another location need not cancel their card as long as there is no change in the Approving Official and the employee remains a Cardholder. If an employee completes an exit clearance form, the Purchase Card must be destroyed.



  1. Serve as liaison between Cardholders and Approving Officials and the Agency Program Coordinator on purchase card issues.
  2. Ensure office or organization unit is complying with purchase card policies and practices.


  1. Designate Cardholders, monetary limits, and default ASCs.
  2. Periodically review Cardholders and the spending limits under their responsibility to ensure accounts and spending controls are accurate.
  3. Certify and submit the monthly e-statement in CitiDirect within ten working days after the close of the monthly cycle.
  4. Reconcile the e–statement for the Cardholder in the event of the Cardholder’s absence.
  5. Set up a central system for Cardholder receipts to ensure supporting receipts are retained for six years, three months.
  6. Prepare or review card requests, cancellations, and lost/stolen card reports, as needed.
  7. Assist the Cardholder in resolving dispute payments.


  1. Purchase only authorized items using authorized sources.
  2. Do not exceed assigned monetary limits.
  3. Ensure that the quantity and quality of the items furnished are in accordance with the agreement with the vendor.
  4. Immediately report lost or stolen cards to the Approving Official and Division of Procurement.
  5. Use convenience checks in accordance with waivers under the mandatory EFT rules.
  6. Reconcile and submit the e-statement in CitiDirect within five working days after the close of the monthly cycle.
  7. Forward supporting receipts to the Approving Official for review and retention.


CitiDirect e-statements are considered the official statements for review and submission for payment purposes.

Cardholder Actions

The Cardholder must log onto the CitiDirect application and reconcile the e-statement transactions to the supporting receipts obtained from the merchant. Supporting receipts should include merchant invoices and/or delivery receipts along with internal records that document prior approval of the purchase card and independent confirmation of the receipt of the goods and service.  Independent confirmation should be noted on the supporting receipt by the employee requesting the goods or services or someone in the organization that can verify the goods or services were received.  Any discrepancies must be immediately discussed with the merchant involved, and/or Citibank to resolve the error.

The Cardholder is responsible for reviewing the ASC assigned to each purchase card transaction and changing it to a more appropriate code, if applicable. The process of assigning ASCs in CitiDirect is called reallocating.

The e-statement is available for viewing and reallocating transactions each day while it is in an interim or new status. The Approving Official may also view and reallocate transactions when the e-statement is in the interim, new or pending approval status.

The e-statement becomes available to submit to the Approving Official for certification at the end of the billing cycle, which is approximately the 10th working day of the month. The e-statement obtains the status of new in CitiDirect when it is available for submission by the Cardholder. If the Cardholder fails to reconcile and submit the e-statement to the Approving Official within five days of the statement becoming new, the system will automatically change the status to pending approval and make the e-statement available to the Approving Official for submission.

It is recommended that a note be completed in CitiDirect for each transaction reconciled to clearly communicate to the Approving Official that the item has been reconciled and the transaction is ready for certification. The note may also be used to document items that have discrepancies that require further attention.

When a Cardholder encounters a disputed item, he or she may wish to file a formal dispute with Citibank. This is recommended when the merchant does not resolve the incorrect billing in a timely fashion. A Cardholder must file the dispute within 60 days of the end of the billing cycle. The Cardholder can complete and submit the dispute form in CitiDirect, but must also print, sign, and mail a hard-copy dispute form to Citibank Corporate Services (605-357-2019). Check with the Agency Program Coordinator for advice when filing disputes. Disputed items are paid for initially like any other card transaction, and it is the Cardholder’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate credit is received on a future e-statement. It is recommended that the same ASC used for the original transaction be applied to the credit, to ensure the two transaction offset each other in the accounting system.

Refer to the CitiDirect Quick Reference Guide for instructions on using the system. Contact the Accounting Services Division for assistance, if needed. The CitiDirect Quick Reference Guide can be found at http://arc.publicdebt.treas.gov/files/pdf/fsqrgcardholder.pdf.

Approving Official Actions

After the e-statement is submitted to the Approving Official, the Approving Official should log onto CitiDirect to review and submit the e-statement, which serves as the Approving Official’s certification that the e-statement is accurate and ASCs are properly assigned. If the Approving Official fails to submit the statement within 10 days after the statement becomes new, the system will automatically close the e-statement, assign a status of autoclose, and forward the e-statement to the accounting system for payment. The ASCs assigned at the time of auto-close process will be the ASCs used to record the transactions in the Oracle Federal Financials system.

If the Approving Official finds an error in the ASC assignment, he or she may correct the ASC assignment by reallocating the transaction in CitiDirect. The Approving Official may also reject the e-statement back to the Cardholder for correction. The recommended practice is for the Approving Official to informally verify the ASC assignment with the Cardholder and make the correction, to more quickly process the e-statement.

The auto-close process is established to ensure the agency’s purchase card payment status remains current. Corrections to the ASC assignment of transactions cannot be made in CitiDirect after the statement is closed or auto-closed.

At the end of the billing cycle, the contractor will mail monthly paper statements to the Approving Official and the Cardholder. The paper statements will itemize all purchases made throughout the billing cycle. The paper statements are for internal use only and can be retained in the office files.


The Cardholder is responsible for exercising the same care and responsibility for the security of the card and the account number as he/she would with a personal credit card.


If the credit card is lost or stolen, it is important that the Cardholder immediately notify the contractor at the following number: 1-800-790-7206.

Upon notification to the contractor, follow up correspondence must be sent from the Cardholder’s Approving Official to the Procurement COTR with the following information:

  1. The Cardholder’s name and account number.
  2. The date of the loss/theft.
  3. If stolen, the date the police were notified.
  4. The date the contractor was notified.
  5. Any purchase(s) made on the date the card was lost/stolen.

A new card will be issued to the employee immediately following a report of loss or theft.


Convenience checks are available to cardholders who need to purchase from vendors who do not accept a purchase card.

Convenience checks are for non-recurring payments, which are no more frequent than once a year, or other payments that are waived from the EFT provisions of the Debt Collection Act. Payments to sole proprietors may be made with convenience checks under the hardship waiver.

Vendors who are used on a recurring basis and do not accept the purchase card must register with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and be paid by electronic funds transfer. These purchases are made using purchase orders upon receipt of an approved purchase request.

The Cardholder must secure convenience checks to prevent unauthorized use.

The card contractor charges a small fee each time a convenience check is used. The fee is equal to 1.25% of the check amount. Convenience check purchases show up on the Cardholder’s monthly statement as a separate entry of “cash advance fee” followed by the purchase. The checks come pre-numbered and pre-printed with the following information on each check: the Cardholder’s name, purchase card account number, “not to exceed” amount, agency name, “For Official Use Only”, and Tax Exempt.

Cardholders must retain a log of convenience checks written, including the merchant name, address, taxpayer identification number, and nature of the purchase for determining 1099-MISC tax reporting. Cardholders will be expected to provide this information at the end of the calendar year to the Accounting Services Division.

Contact the Accounting Services Division for questions on the appropriate use of convenience checks.


Office Program Coordinators are encouraged to monitor the purchase card activity in their organization to ensure the purchase card is being appropriately used.

Individual card transactions are recorded in the Oracle Financials accounting system and are available for viewing with Discoverer application. Discoverer enables Program Coordinators to review purchase card activity by merchant name, Cardholder, and Approving Official.

Inappropriate purchase card use should be brought to the attention of the Agency Program Coordinator.