Government officials in Wales are in hot water after reports surfaced that federal purchasing cards are being used inappropriately, BBC reports said on Friday (July 22).
More than $9.8 million has been spent on Welsh government p-cards over the last five years, reports said. That includes one card which was used to spend more than $136 at a Victoria's Secret. Reports said it is unknown whether anyone was disciplined for the misuse of the card, though noted that the funds have been returned to the government.
The mismanaged spend was uncovered via a Freedom of Information request, according to the BBC. That request also revealed nearly $2,000 spent at a Tokyo hotel, $11,800 at a hotel in Beijing and $365 spent at a Toys"R"Us.
According to reports, these purchases are not necessarily fraudulent, citing promotional and staff training purposes for these particular transactions.
"Whilst we accept that procurement cards have a role to play in reducing the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims, the number of staff with access to them continues to grow, and some of the claims involved are eye-watering and require explanation," admitted Nick Ramsay, a member of the Welsh Assembly.
"Millions of pounds are being spent on these cards, and the public needs to have confidence that the system isn't being abused and that the taxpayer is getting value for money," Ramsay continued.
Ramsay emphasized that government procurement cards play a vital role in federal procurement, noting that their use is common across the U.K.
"They are an efficient way of ordering and paying for small value goods and services and reduce administration costs," he stated. "Procurement cards also provide flexibility, particularly when staff are traveling and last-minute costs need to be incurred."
He added that all government purchases on p-cards are reviewed and subject to audit.