WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
Use of the Purchase Card and Convenience Check
February 13, 2003
OPI: Office of Procurement & Property
regulation prescribes policies and procedures for use of the purchase
card. The APC/LAPC Purchase Card
Program Guide and PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide are subordinate to and
supplement this regulation; they provide the details supporting policies
established by this regulation. All three of these documents can be accessed
through the USDA Procurement home page at http://www.usda.gov/procurement/.
Purchase Card Program reduces administrative costs and allows agencies to
procure supplies and services faster through the use of purchase cards and
convenience checks. Departmental Regulation (DR) 5013-6, along with
supplementing guidance in the APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide and
the PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide, establish USDA policies and procedures
for use of purchase cards and convenience checks in conjunction with USDA's
Purchase Card Management System.
to Executive Order 12931, it is the policy of USDA that the purchase card will
be used for supply and/or service procurements valued at or below the
micro-purchase threshold (FAR 2.101).
These purchases are known as "micro"-purchases. In addition, purchase cards will be used by
warranted personnel for actions at or below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold
(SAT) to the maximum practicable extent (FAR 2.101).
contracting personnel may also use the purchase card and convenience checks to
process procurement actions under contracts, provided appropriate contractual
arrangements are reflected in the contract document.
the event a vendor will not accept the purchase card, a convenience check may
be used to process the transaction provided Debt Collection Improvement Act
(Public Law No. 104-134) waiver criteria are satisfied. It is also USDA policy that the convenience
check shall be used in lieu of cash from imprest funds for purposes such as
reimbursement for expenditures on official business, if it is not practicable
to make reimbursement through electronic funds transfer. (Refer to the APC/LAPC
Purchase Card Program Guide and/or PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide for
If deemed necessary to supplement this DR, agencies
must submit to the Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM), a copy
of the agency's proposed augmentation to this regulation prior to
implementation. It is USDA policy,
consistent with the Regulatory Reform Initiative, to limit supplementation to
revises and cancels DR 5013-6, dated February 22, 2000.
Agency Program Coordinator
Agriculture Property Management
Debt Collection Improvement Act
Departmental Program Coordinator
Federal Acquisition Regulation
Federal Management Regulation
Federal Property Management
Local Agency Program Coordinator
The National Finance Center
Office of Inspector General
Office of Procurement and Property
Purchase Card Management System
Senior Procurement Executive
Federal Prison Industries, Inc.
United States Department of
Alert System. The alert
system is the subsystem in PCMS that provides user messages to APCs, LAPCs, the
DPC, and the OIG regarding questionable transactions and transactions selected
by statistical sampling for review.
Some alerts will trigger a set of questions that must be answered to
verify the validity of a specific transaction.
Alerts are developed to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.
Biobased Product. Biobased product means
"a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that
utilizes biological products or renewable domestic agricultural (plant, animal,
and marine) or forestry materials." (Executive Order 13101, §213).
Convenience checks are issued to authorized cardholders. Convenience checks are written against a
cardholder's account and reconciled in PCMS.
Pursuant to DCIA, convenience checks are not considered electronic funds
transfer (EFT) transactions. As a
result, the convenience check can only be used when one of the waivers to EFT
is satisfied. (For detailed waiver
information, refer to Authorized Use of the Convenience Check in either the APC/LAPC
Purchase Card Program Guide or PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide.)
means a calendar day, unless otherwise specified. When a time period specified by date or a number of days would
end on a weekend or holiday, the time period is extended to expire on the next
FAR. The FAR
establishes uniform policies and procedures for acquisition by all executive
agencies (FAR 1.101) The FAR is located in Title 48, Chapter 1 of the Code of
Act. This Act, 41 U.S.C. §46 et. seq., established the JWOD Program,
which generates jobs and training opportunities for people who are blind or who
have other severe disabilities, through the federal procurement process. For a current JWOD product and service
listing, log onto their home page at http://www.jwod.gov. JWOD products can also be acquired on-line
through the USDA Acquisition Toolkit at http://www.usda.gov/procurement/ and
through JWOD at http://www.jwod.com.
Micro-Purchase. Purchases at or below the micro-purchase threshold
as defined in the FAR (FAR 2.101), or as otherwise provided by law.
Limit. The maximum total dollar amount a cardholder is authorized to
procure each month. This amount is
similar to a "credit limit." It is established in PCMS and at the
card services contractor (bank) when a cardholder's account is first
established. The dollar amount of the monthly limit is established by the
manager conferring the purchase card on an employee. This limit includes both purchase and convenience check
software used to manage, reconcile, dispute, and pay purchase card and
convenience check transactions. It is
accessed through a personal computer meeting certain minimum configuration and
communication requirements. (For
detailed information, refer to either the APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program
Guide or PCMS/ Micro-Purchase Guide.)
Procurement Request. The USDA
AD Form 700, Procurement Request, is optional for purchases at or below the
micro-purchase threshold, except for hazardous items (i.e., firearms,
ammunition, explosives, or hazardous biological and radioactive
substances). In other cases,
requisitions at this dollar level should not generally be forwarded to the
servicing contracting office for processing unless the requirement is of a
unique, complex, or sensitive nature, or the vendor will not accept the
purchase card or convenience check for the order. The handling of such a requisition will be coordinated in advance
with your servicing contracting office.
Limit. The maximum dollar amount a cardholder is authorized for a single
transaction using either the purchase card or convenience check. This amount is established in PCMS and at
the card services contractor (bank) when a cardholder's account is first
established. The single purchase limit
applies to both purchase card and convenience check transactions. For example, a cardholder with a single
purchase limit of $2,500 cannot write a check for $3,000. The manager
conferring the purchase card authority on an employee initially recommends the
single purchase limit. The LAPC may
reduce the single purchase limit of any cardholder in order to deactivate the
cardholder’s account or to ensure the integrity of the Purchase Card
Program. Note that only warranted
personnel may be authorized single purchase limits greater than the
micro-purchase threshold consistent with their warrant limitations.
Warrant or Warrant
Authority. The contracting authority delegated to a
USDA employee by a duly authorized appointing official in accordance with
regulations. The warrant, SF-1402,
states the level of contracting authority delegated to an individual, including
any limitations on that authority.
Above the micro-purchase threshold, only individuals with warrant
authority bind USDA contractually.
Acquiring Hazardous Items. Cardholders other than authorized warranted
USDA employees may not use the purchase card and/or convenience check to
acquire firearms, ammunition, explosives, or hazardous biological and
radioactive substances. For such items,
requisitions are to be prepared and forwarded to the servicing contracting
office after obtaining agency required approvals and licenses (if any).
Checks for Official Business Use Only. The purchase card and convenience checks are
for official government business use only. Under no circumstances is the card
or convenience check to be used for personal purchases or as identification for
personal purchases. Failure to properly
use and safeguard the card and/or checks will result in revocation of card and
convenience check authority, and possible disciplinary action in accordance
with applicable procedures. Refer to
the APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide for details on disciplinary
Competition at or
Below Micro-Purchase Level. At and below the micro-purchase threshold
defined in FAR 2.101, cardholders are not required to seek competition as long
as they believe the price is reasonable (FAR 13.202(a)(2)).
Business Size. Micro-purchases may be made from any size business using the
purchase card or convenience checks (FAR 13.003(b)(1)). However, it is USDA policy to increase
opportunities for small, small disadvantaged, and small women-owned
businesses. Cardholders are therefore
encouraged to acquire from these sources whenever possible.
the Micro-Purchase Level. Other than under existing contracts,
contracting officers and other warranted personnel using the purchase card to
make purchases above the micro-purchase threshold shall obtain competitive
quotations for all purchases pursuant to 41 U.S.C. § 428(a)(2).
Priority of Use - Purchase Card Versus
Convenience Checks. Cardholders
shall use purchase cards in preference to convenience checks. Convenience checks may be used when a vendor
does not accept the purchase card, provided the DCIA waiver criteria are satisfied.
Use of Convenience
Checks for Employee Reimbursements. When it is not practicable to reimburse
employees through direct deposit, convenience checks may be used for
reimbursements for local travel and expenses that were previously addressed through
the use of imprest funds, including:
Local taxicabs, subway
or bus fares, parking, and local vehicle mileage incurred on official business;
Local and long
distance official telephone calls;
Tuition, books, and
related expenses; and,
Goods or services of
an emergency nature, not to exceed $500.
Employees shall submit either an approved SF 1164, Claim for
Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business, or an approved SF-182,
Request, Authorization, Agreement and Certification of Training, as
appropriate, to request reimbursement of incurred expenses. Employees shall also submit a justification,
signed by their supervisor, with any request for reimbursement for goods or
services purchased by the employee.
Employees are expected to contact the cardholder servicing their office
when they need to obtain goods or services, except in emergencies or other
situations in which it is not possible to contact the cardholder.
Ethics Requirements. Office of
Government Ethics Standards of Conduct for Executive Branch Employees apply to
purchase card and convenience check use.
All purchases/transactions must be transacted for official Government
business only. Cardholders with
questions regarding the propriety of a particular purchase should consult their
LAPC, servicing contracting office, or agency ethics officer, for guidance and
assistance prior to making the purchase.
Applicability. Use of the purchase card and convenience
checks must be consistent with the FAR, AGAR, FMR, FPMR, AGPMR, Office of
Government Ethics Standards of Conduct for Executive Branch Employees, and
Preferable Products and Services. It is the policy of USDA to acquire
environmentally preferable, including biobased, products and services in
accordance with the goals and policies of Executive Order 13101, September 14,
1998. This preference extends to
acquisitions at all dollar levels, including those accomplished using the
Timely and Accurately Reconcile. It is USDA policy that cardholders shall
reconcile their accounts no later than 30 days after a transaction appears in
PCMS, absent extenuating circumstances.
Failure to timely and accurately reconcile may cause inaccuracies in
agency status of funds information. In
addition, failure to cite correct budget object classification codes and, for
convenience check recipients, Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) or Social
Security Numbers (SSNs), may cause Form 1099s to erroneously be issued (or not
issued) to USDA employees and vendors.
Failure to timely and accurately reconcile shall constitute grounds for
management to revoke purchase card and/or convenience check privileges, and
possible disciplinary action. LAPCs
shall deactivate the account of any cardholder who fails to reconcile
transactions within 60 days after each transaction appears in PCMS. No account so deactivated may be
re-activated until all transactions in the account are reconciled. For additional information on cardholder
responsibilities, refer to the PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide.
Fiscal Year End Reconciliation. At the end of each fiscal year, cardholders
shall reconcile all unreconciled transactions visible on the PCMS card
transaction screen. Cardholders shall
reconcile all unreconciled transactions in accordance with agency procedures,
but no later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year.
Calendar Year End Reconciliation. Cardholders shall reconcile all unreconciled
transactions visible on the PCMS card transaction screen as of the last working
day of each December. This
reconciliation assists the NFC to prepare year-end reports to the Internal
Revenue Service. Reconciliation must be
completed no later than 15 days after the end of the calendar year.
Cash Awards and Use of Convenience Checks. Convenience checks may not be used to issue
cash awards. The Office of Human Resources Management’s procedures for
spot cash awards are available online at http://www.usda.gov/da/employ/spotforweb.htm.
Salary Payments and
Use of Convenience Checks. Convenience checks may not be used to issue
salary payments of any kind. NFC’s
Special Payroll Processing System should be used for emergency salary
and Use of Convenience Checks. Convenience checks may not be used for cash
reimbursement of qualifying transit expenses under the Commuter Transit Subsidy
Benefit Program. Refer to DR 4060-002
for details on this Program.
Imprest Funds. Purchase
cards and convenience checks shall not be used to establish, maintain, or
replenish imprest funds. Purchase
cards and convenience checks shall not be used to obtain cash for imprest
funds, either directly or through employees or third parties.
Dormant Accounts. Dormant
accounts are accounts with no account activity over a period of six
months. LAPCs shall review dormant
accounts at least annually to determine whether they should be cancelled.
regulation is applicable to all USDA activities with delegated procurement
authority or that are serviced by agencies with delegated procurement
training materials are available from the Consolidated Forms and Publications
Distribution Center (CFPDC) in Beltsville, Maryland. These materials can be ordered directly from the Distribution
Center using Form CFPDC-1 in accordance with departmental/agency procedures
citing the following form number (see also http://www.bsc.usda.gov):
1113 PCMS Training Workbook and PCMS
of the following documents can be downloaded from the USDA Procurement web site
at http://www.usda.gov /procurement/:
YEAR 2000 COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENT FOR PURCHASES &
THE USDA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MORATORIUM
purchasing Information Technology (IT) products that will be required to
perform date/time processing involving dates subsequent to December 31, 1999,
cardholders are required to purchase only those that are Year 2000 compliant
(FAR 39.106). "Year 2000 compliant" means that the IT accurately
processes date/time data (including, but not limited to, calculating,
comparing, and sequencing) from, into, and between the twentieth and
twenty-first centuries, and the years 1999 and 2000 and leap year calculations,
to the extent that other IT, used in combination with the IT being acquired,
properly exchanges date/time data with it (FAR 39.002). In the event a non-year 2000 compliant
product or service is required, a prior, specific exemption to this requirement
must be obtained from the USDA Chief Information Officer.
OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES SOLD BY MANDATORY SOURCES
When acquiring supplies and
services, cardholders are required, in accordance with law and Executive Branch
policies, to purchase from UNICOR or nonprofit agencies participating in the
JWOD Program those supplies and services appearing on the UNICOR Schedule of
Products made in Federal Penal and Correctional Institutions or on the JWOD
Procurement List maintained under the JWOD program (FAR 8.601-.606,
8.700-.715). This requirement generally
applies only to purchases over $25 of items on the UNICOR Schedule (FAR
8.605(a), 8.606(e)). It applies to
purchases of any dollar value of items on the JWOD Procurement List (FAR
PCMS Micro-Purchase Guide provides the cardholder with details of how
the Purchase Card program works and instructions for using the purchase card
and convenience checks. Refer to this
guide for complete details on cardholder purchasing responsibilities and
performing PCMS functions.
APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide provides complete details on the
roles and responsibilities of each individual involved in the Purchase Card
Program from the administration of the program to the cardholder. The following is a brief overview of each
role in the USDA purchase card program:
A program coordinator in OPPM who manages the USDA Purchase Card
The APC is responsible for the overall program in each agency and is the
agency’s contact with the DPC. Subject
to the concurrence of the agency Head of the Contracting Activity Designee,
APCs may appoint assistant, deputy, or regional APCs to assist with program
LAPC. LAPCs are
appointed locally by the Head of the Contracting Office, subject to the
concurrence of the APC. The LAPC is responsible
for the day-to-day operations of the purchase card program at each site. This includes cardholder training, purchase
card record maintenance, oversight of purchase card transactions, review of
purchase limits, and deactivation or activation of cardholder accounts.
Contact. NFC is the designated Billing Office Contact for all USDA
purchase card users and is responsible for payment of the electronic invoice
and for scheduling payment with the U.S. Treasury.
Cardholder. The cardholder
is the individual to whom a card is issued. This individual may purchase,
within his or her delegated authority, supplies and services required by the
Government. No other person is
authorized to use the card and, if issued, convenience checks.
determine who within their organizations should receive purchase cards and
convenience checks. Managers determine
the monthly purchase limits and recommend initial single purchase limits of
cardholders within their organizations within the overall limits contained in
section 14, below.
Supervisors are the first line of control over the purchasing activity
of cardholders in their units.
Supervisors review cardholder purchase transactions to verify that they
are necessary and proper. Supervisors
recommend appropriate personnel action in the event of purchase card or
convenience check abuse.
the event of a conflict between DR 5013-6 and the PCMS Micro-Purchase Guide
or the APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide, the policies and procedures
of DR 5013-6 will govern.
DPC, APCs, LAPCs, OPPM, and the OIG monitor purchase card transactions through
tools such as PCMS’ alert system, statistical sampling, and query tool
software. Cardholders are required to
comply with any requests by the DPC, APC, LAPC, OPPM, OIG, and other duly
authorized organizations/individuals for information/investigations regarding
supervisors will monitor purchasing activity of cardholders in their
units. Supervisors will require
cardholders to generate periodic reports of purchase card and convenience check
transactions. Supervisors shall review
cardholder transaction reports at least quarterly, or more often if agency
procedures require. On reviewing a
cardholder report, the supervisor shall initial it and retain it on file. Supervisors shall notify the cardholder’s
LAPC if they identify questionable transactions or possible misuse of the card. Supervisors shall notify the cardholder’s LAPC
if the cardholder leaves the unit or no longer requires a card. Unless otherwise specified in agency
procedures, supervisors should collect purchase cards and checks from
cardholders separating from their agency, and return the cards and checks to
the LAPC for disposal.
DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
accordance with USDA Delegations of Authority (7 CFR 2.93), the Director of
OPPM is delegated authority to promulgate Departmental policies, standards,
techniques and procedures, including developing and administering principles
and objectives supporting procurement, and serves as the USDA SPE. In relation to the USDA Purchase Card
Program, the SPE delegates authority as described below.
($2,500 or less). The USDA SPE delegates micro-purchase
procurement authority through this regulation.
Letters of delegation from the Heads of Contracting Activities or their
designees are unnecessary for delegated authority of $2,500 or less ($2,000 for
construction). Managers or supervisors determine to whom cards and convenience
checks will be issued. They can request authority for non-warranted personnel
up to and including $2,500 ($2,000 for construction). These requests shall be submitted to the cognizant LAPC for
action. Issuance of the purchase card
by the LAPC confers the authority up to the specified purchase limit as
reflected in PCMS. This authority
terminates upon the employee's separation from their organization or
cancellation of the card by the APC or LAPC.
$2,500. The micro-purchase threshold, as defined in FAR 2.101 or as
otherwise provided by law, may exceed $2,500 under certain circumstances (e.g.,
purchases of supplies or services to facilitate defense against or recovery
from terrorism). Heads of Contracting
Activities or their designees may issue letters of delegation to non-warranted
personnel authorizing them to purchase supplies or services up to the
applicable micro-purchase threshold.
The letter of delegation shall state the reason why the employee is
authorized to make micro-purchases over $2,500, and the employee’s initial
single purchase limit. The letter shall
be submitted to the cognizant LAPC for action.
Issuance of the purchase card by the LAPC confers the authority up to
the specified purchase limits as reflected in PCMS. This authority terminates upon revocation of the letter of
delegation, the employee's separation from their organization, or cancellation
of the card by the APC or LAPC.
Acquisitions and Formal Contracts. Only warranted USDA employees may purchase
above the micro-purchase level.
Warranted individuals may use the purchase card, and, if issued,
convenience checks, in accordance with FAR 13.301(c) up to the single and
monthly purchase limits established for their cards. The single purchase limit established for a warranted individual
may not exceed the lesser of the amount of the individual’s delegated authority
or $1 million, unless a waiver is authorized by the APC. The single purchase limit may never exceed
the warranted individual’s delegated authority. Refer to DR 5001-1, USDA Contracting Officer Warrant System,
or its successor, and DR 5100-2, USDA Leasing Officer Warrant System, or
its successor, for policy on contracting delegations of authority/warrants.
Changes to Spending
Limits. Changes to a cardholder's single purchase limit and/or monthly
spending limit will be directed to the LAPC for action but must be approved by
the cardholder's manager or supervisor prior to implementation. The LAPC may reduce a cardholder’s single
purchase limit in order to ensure the integrity of the Purchase Card Program;
e.g., in order to deactivate a cardholder account.
USE OF CARDS AND CHECKS
are specific guidelines on using the purchase card and convenience checks. The APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide
and PCMS/Micro-Purchase Guide provide complete details as to what is or
is not permitted. Failure to comply
with these guidelines may result in loss of purchase card and convenience check
authority as well as disciplinary action.
The following is a brief overview and does not include all conditions
relating to the purposes for which the card and checks may or may not be used:
The purchase card can
be used to purchase goods and services under the micro-purchase threshold; to
acquire special purpose space to be used on a temporary or emergency basis; and
to acquire repairs and maintenance to government-owned or leased
vehicles/equipment in an emergency situation or when the fleet credit card is
Convenience checks can
be utilized for purchases only when:
(1) the vendor or merchant will not accept the purchase card, and (2) at
least one of the DCIA waivers is satisfied (see section 6c). The following are considered appropriate
uses for convenience checks:
Bona fide emergencies where the purchase card
is not a viable solution;
small and/or rural businesses that are not yet able to accept the purchase
reimbursements (see section 7g), if direct deposit is impracticable; and
Other properly approved transactions for which
the imprest funds were previously used that cannot be addressed using the
purchase card (see section 7g).
The purchase card and
convenience checks shall not be used for cash advances, establishment of
imprest funds, maintenance or replenishment of cash balances in imprest funds,
long-term rental or lease of land or buildings, cash awards, salary payments,
travel-related purchases, personal purchases, to acquire major telecommunication
services, or hazardous items (see Special Instructions).
REQUIREMENTS AND USE OF THE PURCHASE CARD
warranted USDA employees may use the purchase card for complex, unique, or
high-risk actions, regardless of the dollar amount of the action. Considerations for forwarding a procurement
request to the servicing contracting activity for review and possible action
include: (1) whether the requirement is for firearms, ammunition, explosives,
hazardous biological substances, or radioactive agents; (2) complicated terms
and conditions; (3) need for a contract in order to document mutual
responsibilities of the parties; (4)
mission criticality; (5) high performance risk; and (6) similar factors indicating
that the requirement is complex or unusual in nature.
AND CONDITIONS FOR PURCHASE CARD TRANSACTIONS
accordance with FAR 13.201(d), clauses generally are not required for purchases
at or below the micro-purchase threshold.
FAR 13.201(d) takes precedence over any other FAR requirement to the
contrary, but does not prohibit the use of any clause.
Purchase Orders and
Contracts. The Contracting Officer will ensure that
contracts and purchase orders in excess of the micro-purchase threshold include
appropriate terms and conditions, clauses, and certifications, in accordance
with the FAR and the AGAR. Contracts and purchase orders using the purchase
card should also provide that:
The purchase card
shall be accepted for all purchases and payments under the contract or order;
Prices reflected in
the order and/or Section B of the contract (as appropriate) reflect use of the
The contractor will
not process a transaction for payment through the purchase card clearinghouse
until: (i) the purchased supplies have been shipped or (ii) purchased services
performed (For subscriptions, the contractor may process the transaction for
payment upon receipt of the order.); and,
the Contractor will immediately credit the
purchase cardholder's account for items and related charges for items returned
as defective, unless the Contracting Officer requests correction or replacement
of a defective or faulty item.
order to receive a purchase card with micro-purchase authority, non-warranted
personnel must receive training in micro-purchase regulations and procedures
and PCMS. All personnel must be trained to use PCMS before a card may be
conferred. Individuals issued a card
will certify that they have received the training, understand the regulations
and procedures, and know the consequences of inappropriate actions.
Agency Head is responsible for training participants in the USDA Purchase Card
Program. Materials have been developed
for use in training cardholders, APCs, LAPCs, and others involved in using or
monitoring purchase card transactions.
These training materials are listed in the APC/LAPC Purchase Card
personnel will receive credit towards their maintenance training requirements
based upon the duration of time spent receiving official APC/LAPC and/or
OF THE CARD AND/OR CONVENIENCE CHECKS FOR DISASTER, INDEMNITY, AND OTHER
indemnity, and other program payments are not payments for the procurement of
supplies or services under the FAR.
Agencies that obtained approval from the SPE to use the purchase card or
convenience checks prior to the issuance of this DR to make disaster, indemnity
or program payments may continue to do so in accordance with the terms and
conditions of the approval. Agencies
otherwise may not use the purchase card and/or convenience check to make
disaster, indemnity or program payments.
about the USDA Purchase Card Program should be directed through agency channels
(the cognizant APC and LAPC) to the DPC in the OPPM, at (202) 720-7527. For technical inquiries, refer to the Troubleshooting
section in either the APC/LAPC Purchase Card Program Guide or PCMS/Micro-Purchase
Guide for specific details.