About a fifth of government-wide transactions using purchase cards lack complete documentation to substantiate the approval process, GAO has said.

GAO said the government-wide figure for incomplete documentation was 22 percent and at two departments it studied in more detail, 23 percent at DoD and 13 percent at the VA. Those two together accounted for about two-thirds of the nearly $9 billion in annual spending for micropurchases, it said.

In response to reports from GAO and others pointing to misuse of those cards, which allow purchases under $3,500, the government has taken steps including enhanced training, monitoring and guidance. That includes a requirement to maintain documentation, including the purchase request and preapproval for self-generated purchases, to minimize risk of erroneous or improper purchases.

GAO said that its latest review “found little evidence of improper or potentially fraudulent purchases among micropurchase transactions. However, incomplete documentation increases the risk that fraud, charge card misuse, and other abusive activity could occur without detection.”

It questioned the policy of one department, Interior, which has granted blanket purchase authority for cardholders for most transactions under the micropurchase limit, and does not require any documentation of the purchase request or preapproval. Interior partially disagreed with its recommendation to fully document such purchases, pointing to the challenges of requiring preapproval of such purchases. GAO said it stands by its recommendation.