Describe some of your responsibilities related to the GSA SmartPay program.
As the Agency Program Coordinator (APC), I provide oversight and guidance to approximately 9,300 Purchase Card Program
employees including management, coordinators, approving officials and cardholders. I ensure compliance with the Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-123 Appendix B, Improving the Management of Government Charge Card Programs, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies and regulations. Also, I write policies that govern operations of the Purchase Card Program.
How does your agency/organization use the GSA SmartPay program to accomplish its mission?
The purchase cards are used by program units such as National Forest Systems, Forest Service Research, Business Operations, State and Private Forestry, and International Programs to procure supplies and services for 154 national forests, 20 grasslands and 29 job corps centers.
What do you see as the major benefits of the GSA SmartPay program?
The main benefit of having purchase cards is it allows employees to procure micro-purchase items with minimal paperwork.
It saves an employee’s time and resources by allowing them to go directly to the vendors, which get paid quicker. Also, it
reduces time and resources of generating a purchase order (that had to go through the financial system) and eliminates the
need for Government Imprest Funds.
What are three words to describe the GSA SmartPay program?
Timeliness – The servicing bank transaction files are loaded into our financial system in three to five business days so our financial records are up-to-date.
Efficient – The USDA Government Purchase Card is a Visa charge card that is accepted by millions of vendors around the world. We have very few vendors that do not accept the charge card. If they do not accept the charge card, a convenience check is then issued if one of the Debt Collection Improvement Act waivers applies. The convenience checks - while not the best option - are great for rural areas where vendors are limited.
User Friendly – The process of purchasing and reconciling through the servicing bank is very quick and easy. All employees
with the proper training can be issued a purchase card.
What is the most interesting/important way that you’ve seen the GSA SmartPay program used within your agency/organization?
The purchase cards are used by our agency to pay for supplies and services under the threshold for
emergency incident personnel fighting wildland fires. This allows us flexibility to get needed
supplies to fire crews quickly. Also, Incident Buying Teams use the purchase card to support more
than wildland fires; in the past, the Forest Service has supported natural disasters such as
hurricanes and floods, Shuttle Recovery, and the September 11 attacks.
What’s one fact/piece of information about the GSA SmartPay program that you’d like to share with the account holder?
Documentation first, purchase second. It is imperative that cardholders have all documentation in place PRIOR to making any purchases. This includes any required approvals. All transactions are subject to being reviewed and/or audited. History has proven that it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain necessary documentation after the fact.
What’s one fact/piece of information about the GSA SmartPay program that you’d like to share with the general public?
The GSA SmartPay program saves taxpayers dollars while allowing the government to receive rebates and allows for more transparency.
Any other comments you would like to share?
The Government Purchase Card is a great tool, but with responsibility also comes risk. Always remember as employees, we are stewards of government funds and accountable to the taxpayers