Misuse and Abuse
Intentional use of a government account for other than official government business constitutes misuse, and depending on the situation, may constitute fraud. Each agency develops and implements policies related to employee misuse. Examples of misuse include:
- Purchases that exceed the account holder's limit;
- Purchases that are not authorized by the agency;
- Purchases for which there is no funding;
- Purchases for personal consumption, and
- Purchases that do not comply with the policies that govern each particular payment solution type.
Potential consequences for the account holder may include: counseling, cancellation of the card, a written warning, notation in employee performance evaluation, reprimand, and/or suspension or termination of employment.
In the case of a centrally billed account (CBA), either purchase or CBA travel account misuse, the employee may be held personally liable to the Federal Government for the amount of any unauthorized transactions. Depending on the agency and the circumstances, there are a number of applicable laws that can result in fines or imprisonment.
Additionally, in certain cases, vendors are authorized to take certain actions against account holders whose accounts are cancelled for delinquency, such as:
- Assessing late fees;
- Utilizing collection agencies to recover the delinquent balance;
- Reporting the delinquency to national credit bureaus, and
- Salary offset.
Understanding Account Holder Misuse and Fraud
Fraud can be defined as a deception deliberately practiced with the motive of securing unfair or unlawful gain. Specific to our topic here, fraud can be an attempt to cheat the Federal Government and corrupt its agents by using GSA SmartPay accounts for transactions not part of official government business. Fraud can come in many disguises, such as false emails, mail, or phone calls. Likewise, intentional misuse of a GSA SmartPay account by the account holder can result in fraud. The employing agency of an account holder who misuses the account or who participates in fraud may cancel the purchase account and take appropriate disciplinary action against the employee. In the case of account misuse, the employee will be held personally liable to the Federal Government for the amount of any unauthorized transaction.
Depending on the facts involved, an employee may be subject to fine or imprisonment for action relating to purchase account misuse and fraud. Employees issued an account have a responsibility to use the account to procure supplies and services at the direction of the agency under official purchase authorization. Examples of misuse include:
- Purchases that exceed the account holder’s limit,
- Purchases not authorized by the agency,
- Purchases for which no funding exists,
- Purchases for personal consumption,
- Purchases that do not comply with the FAR and/or other applicable procurement statutes and regulations, and
- Purchases billed by the merchant but not received by the agency.
There are guidelines and procedures for disciplinary action to be taken against individuals for the improper, fraudulent, or abusive use of the purchase account. Purchase account misuse/ fraud may have the following potential consequences:
- Cancellation of purchase account,
- Notation in employee performance evaluation,
- Suspension of employment,
- Termination of employment, or
- Criminal prosecution.