With nearly 1,000 full-time equivalent employees in the city of Boise (that number increases to more than 1,600 when the police and fire departments are added), there's increasing scrutiny over the city's so-called P-cards (or purchase cards), given to city employees who use plastic to provide an electronic trail of transactions.
Two years ago, we reported that there were 309 active P-cards among city employees. Now, there are 342. In fact, the most recent audit of P-cards reflects more usage--compared to the previous quarter, overall spending increased by 15.8 percent.
And while "no significant breach" was noted in their most recent review, auditors did take note of some familiar issues.
For example, in February 2012, we reported that a number of cards had not been closed out within a reasonable period after a cardholder was no longer employed (BW, Citydesk, "P-Card Usage Increases, So Do Risks," Feb. 8, 2012), and the same problem was noted in a separate audit more than a year later (BW, Citydesk, "More Issues Require Management Action," Oct. 6, 2013). And now, in an audit dated June 4, two new instances were found in which cards remained live after cardholders terminated employment. Auditors noted that no fraudulent use of the cards occurred.
But auditors did find something suspicious in their review of a sample of 79 transactions. In one instance, auditors said they discovered "a fraudulent transaction initiated by an external party."
"It was such a small amount--$50--that it looked like an error. It was out of pattern for the cardholder and the department," Steve Rehn, director of Internal Audit for the city told BW. "It could have been a mistake. The vendor searched their records and immediately issued a credit."
Additionally, auditors took note of a transaction "involving a personnel action."
"Since it involves personnel, I'll defer on that one," said Rehn. Adam Park, spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter told BW that the violation was minor, no crtiminal activity was involved and "no employee lost his/her position."
Perhaps the most troubling discovery was that during the third quarter of the current fiscal year, there were 695 "unapproved transactions," representing more than 9 percent of the total number of transactions for the quarter.
For the months of April, May and June this year, there were 7,455 P-card transactions with an average purchase of $256.41.