DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Use of the
Purchase Card and Related Alternative Payment Methods
Office of Procurement & Property Management
regulation prescribes policies and procedures for use of the purchase card and
alternative payment methods - including convenience checks, pre-paid cards,
declining balance cards, and cardless accounts - for
obtaining supplies and services in accordance with Federal procurement laws. The Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program
Guide, Approving Official’s Purchase Card Program Guide, and Cardholder’s Purchase Card Program Guide
are subordinate to and supplement this regulation; they provide the details
supporting the policies established by this regulation. All documents pertaining to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Charge Card Program can be accessed through
the USDA Procurement home page at http://www.dm.usda.gov/procurement/ccsc/.
2. PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
The USDA Purchase
Card Program reduces administrative costs and allows agencies to procure
supplies and services faster through the use of purchase cards and related
alternative payment methods (declining balance cards, pre-paid cards, convenience
checks, or cardless accounts). Departmental Regulation (DR) 5013-006, along
with supplementing guidance in the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide,
Approving Official’s Purchase Card Program Guide, and the Cardholder’s Purchase Card Program Guide,
establish USDA policies and procedures for use of purchase cards and related
alternative payment methods. Management of the purchase card accounts and
program will be accomplished through utilization of USDA’s SmartPay®2 bank
vendor’s Electronic Access System (EAS).
regulation is applicable to all USDA activities with delegated procurement
authority or that are serviced by agencies with delegated procurement
Pursuant to Executive
Order (EO) 12931, it is the policy of USDA that the purchase card shall be used
for supply and/or service procurements valued at or below the simplified
In the event
of a conflict between DR 5013-6 and the Cardholder’s
Purchase Card Program Guide, Approving
Official’s Purchase Program Guide, or Coordinator’s Purchase Card
Program Guide, the policies and procedures of this DR will govern.
Warranted contracting personnel may use the purchase card
and related alternative payment methods to process procurement actions up to
the single and monthly purchase limits and under contracts up to the single
purchase limits provided:
All applicable clauses for acquisitions above the
micro-purchase threshold are incorporated in the contracting instruments.
Appropriate contractual arrangements are reflected in
the contract document/file.
In the event a
vendor will not accept the purchase card, related alternative payment methods may
be used to acquire the supply or service.
For convenience checks, the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) 31
U.S.C § 3720B et. seq waiver criteria must be
satisfied. Convenience checks are limited to $2,500 except in an
necessary to supplement this DR, agencies must submit to the USDA Charge Card Service
Center (CCSC), Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM), a copy of
the agency's proposed augmentation to this regulation and receive approval from
OPPM prior to implementation. It is USDA policy, consistent with the
Regulatory Reform Initiative, to limit supplementation to this regulation.
revises and cancels DR 5013-6, dated February 13, 2003.
AO Approving Official
AGAR Agriculture Acquisition
AGPMR Agriculture Property Management
BOC Budget Object Classification Code
CCSC Charge Card Service
CO Contracting Officer
DCIA Debt Collection
DEA Drug Enforcement
DPM (formerly DPC) Departmental Program Manager
DR Departmental Regulation
EAS Electronic Access
EFT Electronic Funds
EO Executive Order
FAR Federal Acquisition
FMR Federal Management
FPDS-NG Federal Procurement Data
FPMR Federal Property
FPOC Financial Point of
LAPC Local Agency Program
NFC National Finance
OIG Office of Inspector
OMB Office of Management and
OPPM Office of Procurement and
SPE Senior Procurement
UNICOR Federal Prison Industries, Inc.
USDA United States Department
- AbilityOne Program (formerly Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act Program). This Act, 41 U.S.C. §8502 et. seq.,
established the AbilityOne 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 AbilityOne product and service listing, log onto their
home page at http://www.abilityone.gov.
products can also be acquired on-line at http://www.abilityone.com or through
the USDA Acquisition Toolkit at http://www.dm.usda.gov/procurement/.
- Abuse. Use of a government charge card, including
alternative payment methods, to buy authorized items, but at terms (e.g.,
price, quantity) that are excessive, for a questionable government need,
or both. Although intended for
government use, these transactions are also considered improper because
they are not permitted by law, regulation, or government/agency
- Accountable/Sensitive Property. Accountable Property is all government
property with an acquisition value of more than $5000.00 as well as, all
real property. Sensitive Property
is defined as an item with an acquisition value of $5000.00 or less, and
is subject to fraud, waste, and abuse; has a high level of visibility; and
can be audited by oversight agencies such as the Government Accountability
Office (GAO), Office of Inspector General (OIG), and Congress.
- Agency Program Coordinator (APC). The APC is responsible for the
overall management of the purchase card program at the agency level. This
person is appointed by the Head of Contracting (HCA) or their designee
(HCAD) for each agency.
- Alternative Payment Methods. These are payment methods available for
use when the merchant does not accept the purchase card. These methods include the pre-paid
cards, declining balance cards, convenience checks, and cardless accounts. Pre-paid and declining balance cards are
also known as debit cards. The same
rules and regulations that apply to the purchase card also apply to
alternative payment methods when these methods are used to pay for
supplies and services.
- Alerts. Alerts are messages to users regarding
questionable transactions and transactions selected by statistical
sampling for review and other events, as defined by the USDA OPPM/CCSC. Some alerts will trigger a set of
questions that must be answered to verify the validity of a specific
transaction. Alerts are being developed
to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.
- Approving Official (AO). This individual ensures that the purchase
card is used properly, authorizes cardholder purchases (for official use
only), and ensures that transactions are reconciled and submitted to the
designated billing office in a timely manner. In most instances the AO is the
cardholder’s supervisor-of-record. Refer
to the Coordinator’s Purchase Card
Program Guide or the Approving
Official’s Purchase Card Program Guide for exceptions. It is USDA policy that cardholders are
assigned one AO.
- 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.
- Cardholder. The
legal agent using the government purchase card to buy goods and services
in the support of official government business. The cardholder holds the primary
responsibility of the card’s proper use.
- Cardless Account. An established account without a physical
- Construction/Construction Services.
Construction is the act of putting
something together or arranging an array of parts to erect or create a new
product or structure. Construction
Services are contracts, or contractor(s) assistance providing the support
and or planning to erect, build, or complete a new product or structure.
- Convenience Checks. Convenience checks are issued
against a cardholder’s account and approved in the (EAS). Convenience checks are issued to
authorized cardholders in certain mission areas. Convenience checks are the least
desirable alternative payment method, due to potential misuse. Pursuant to
DCIA, convenience checks are not considered Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
transactions. As a result, the
convenience check shall be used only when one of the waivers to EFT is
satisfied. (For detailed waiver
information, refer to ‘Authorized Use of the Convenience Check’ in the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program
Guide, Approving Official’s Purchase Card Program Guide, or Cardholder’s Purchase Card Program
- Day. “Day” 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 working day.
- Debit Card. Contractor provided product that
deducts an account/fund within established dollar limits for the purchase
or acquisition of items or services.
- Declining Balance Card. A Declining balance cards is a form of debit cards. Declining balance cards are a purchase
card with a fixed value that reduces as purchases are made.
- Departmental Program Manager
(DPM). This person is the
program manager for the CCSC under OPPM.
This person is responsible for leading the overall USDA purchase
- Electronic Access System (EAS). The charge card Contractors
internet-based system that provides account access and a variety of
reports which assist in the effective management of the charge card
- Emergency. An unexpected, serious occurrence or
situation that would result in injury, financial or otherwise, to the
- Erroneous/Improper Purchase. An erroneous/improper purchase is any
purchase that should not have been made or that was made in an incorrect
amount under statutory, contractual, administrative, or other legally
applicable requirements. Incorrect
amounts include overcharges and undercharges.
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (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 Federal Regulations.
- Fraud. Any
acts of corruption or attempt to cheat the Government or corrupt the
Government’s agents, including, but not limited to, the use of government
charge cards to transact business that is not sanctioned, not authorized,
not in one’s official government capacity, not for the purpose for which
the card was issued, or not as part of official government business.
Card/Gift Certificate. A gift card
and/or gift certificate is a type of purchase payment in the form of a pre-paid
card specific to a retail merchant.
Hazardous Material. Any chemical located, used, or stored at a
USDA facility that either alone, or in combination with other substances, has
the potential to threaten life, health, property, and/or the environment.
Agency Program Coordinator (LAPC). This
person is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the purchase card program
for their respective region or site.
This person works directly with APC, AOs and Cardholders, as well as
liaisons with the customer service group of the contract bank to facilitate management
of the purchase card program.
- Micro-Purchase. Purchases at or below the micro-purchase
threshold as defined in the FAR 2.101, or as otherwise provided by law.
- Misuse. Use of a Federal charge card for
other than the official government purpose for which it is intended.
- Monthly Purchase Limit. This is sometimes referred to as the
“cycle limit” (the cycle runs from the 8th of one month through
the 7th of the next). This
is the maximum total dollar amount a cardholder is authorized to procure
each month. This amount is similar
to a “spend limit.” It is
established at the bank through the EAS. The dollar amount of the monthly limit is
established by the AO conferring the purchase card on an employee. This limit applies to purchase cards and
related alternative payment method transactions.
- Pre-paid Card. A pre-paid card is a form of debit card. The card is programmed with a monetary
value and has the capability to be reloaded.
Payment. A program payment is a
payment made directly by an agency to support a legislatively-mandated program.
This program helps a specific
constituency that Congress has identified in legislation. The purchase card or alternative payment
methods shall not be used to make program payments. Program payments are not payments for the
procurement of supplies or services.
A requisition is required
for purchases at or below the simplified acquisition threshold (including
purchases at or below the
micro-purchase threshold). The
requisition from an authorized official may be in the form of a written request,
an e-mail, and/or document that identifies an official government need and
funds for the specific supply or service, including blanket authorizations for
Purchase Limit. The maximum dollar
amount a cardholder is authorized for a single transaction using either the
purchase card or related alternative payment methods. Multiple items may be purchased at one time
using the card; however, no single purchase may exceed the authorized single
purchase limit. If the requirement is
for on-going repetitive services that exceed $2,500 a year, the best solution
is to forward the requirement for the service through the agency servicing
contracting office. A requirement cannot
be reduced into smaller parts to avoid formal contracting procedures. Splitting purchases merely to stay within
the single purchase limit is a violation of law. For non-warranted cardholders, the single
purchase limit shall not to exceed the micro-purchase limit. Refer to Section 14, Delegation of Authority
for specific information on the micro-purchase authority. The single purchase limit is established at
the bank through the EAS.
For purposes of this regulation, training is defined as a formal,
planned, and structured course of instruction required by the employee in the
performance of their official duties that is conducted through a school,
institute or other comparable Government or non-Government training facility or
conducted in-house through the use of professional, contract-hire instructors
Authority. The authority delegated
to a USDA employee (Contracting Officer, Purchasing Agent, etc.) by a duly
authorized appointing official in accordance with the FAR, 48 CFR Subpart 1.6, and
USDA DR 5001-1, “Acquisition Workforce Training, Delegation, and Tracking
Systems.” The warrant, Standard Form (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 may bind USDA contractually.
Personnel. Any persons or individual
who has been conveyed the authority delegated by USDA to purchase above the
Waste. Any activity on a government charge card that
fosters, or results in, unnecessary costs or other program inefficiencies.
8. AGENCY INTERNAL CONTROL REQUIREMENTS
In order to protect
the government’s interest, it is critical that agencies implement adequate
internal controls to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the
administration of this program. Controls
in this section apply to purchase cards and alternative payment methods. The controls include, but are not limited to,
- Only authorized
employees receive the card and are adequately trained in purchase card
policies and procedures.
- Use of
convenience checks is limited to specific mission areas is minimized to
comply with CCSC program objectives.
- Appropriate administrative
and/or disciplinary actions, including financial reimbursement, are
properly considered and imposed for fraud and other blatant abuse of the
purchase card and/or related alternative payment methods. This applies to
cardholders as well as AOs. (See
the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide for details.)
- When a
cardholder fails to resolve and/or timely dispute (if necessary) an
erroneous charge or report account charges as fraudulent, the cardholder,
consistent with agency policy, shall reimburse the government for the cost
of that transaction and may be subject to disciplinary action. (See the Coordinator’s Purchase
Card Program Guide or Cardholder’s
Purchase Program Guide for details.)
- When a
cardholder makes an improper purchase, the cardholder, in accordance with
agency policy, shall (a) reimburse the government for the cost of the
purchase, and (b) be subject to disciplinary action.
- Where an
official directs an erroneous purchase to be made by a cardholder or
directs a cardholder to purchase items or services that are subsequently
determined to be improper, the official who directed the purchase shall in
accordance with agency policy (a) reimburse the government, and (b) be
subject to disciplinary action.
- Prior approval
and subsequent review of purchase card activity is required for all
purchase card transactions by the approving official or an otherwise
authorized official designated by the agency.
who are also cardholders shall not manage and/or perform oversight duties
for their own purchase card transactions. Coordinators who are cardholders are
assigned to different hierarchies to enforce this policy.
cardholders are assigned one AO.
By December 15 every
year (or two weeks prior to the due dates established in Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) Circular A-123, Appendix B), each APC will report to the OPPM/CCSC
via email at email@example.com, the following
The number of cases reported to the OIG or the APC for possible card
misuse and/or abuse; and
number of administrative and/or disciplinary actions taken for card misuse,
9. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
- Accountable/Sensitive Property. To improve accountability and tracking
of assets, as well as support the accuracy of USDA financial statements,
warranted personnel must maintain accurate, timely information regarding
the purchase of accountable/sensitive property with purchase cards. Warranted personnel must ensure that the
appropriate Budget Object Classification (BOC) is entered in the EAS when
approving a transaction involving the acquisition of accountable/sensitive
property. A BOC Quick Guide for
accountable property is available from the USDA Office of the Chief
Financial Officer (OCFO website at:
http://www.ocfo.usda.gov/acctpol/pdf/propbocg.pdf. Warranted personnel shall also provide
any additional purchase information, beyond that contained in the (EAS),
as needed by property management personnel, to ensure accurate data entry
of accountable and sensitive property into USDA’s Personal Property System.
- Business Size. Micro-purchases may be made from any
size business using the purchase card or related alternative payment
methods FAR 13.003(b)(1). In
accordance with USDA policy to increase opportunities for small and small
Cardholders are therefore encouraged to acquire from these sources
- Card/Related Alternative Payment Methods
for Official Business Use Only.
The purchase card and related alternative payment methods are for
official government business use only. Under no circumstances shall the card or
related alternative payment method to be used for personal purchases or as
identification for personal purchases.
Failure to properly use and safeguard the card and/or alternative
payment method will result in revocation of card and related payment
authority, and possible disciplinary action in accordance with applicable
procedures. Refer to the Coordinator’s
Purchase Card Program Guide, Approving Official’s Purchase Card Guide, and
the Cardholder’s Purchase Card Guide for details on administrative and/or disciplinary
- Competition Above the Micro-Purchase
Level. Above the micro-purchase
threshold, the purchase card is to be used as a payment mechanism, not as
a contracting mechanism Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC Letter
99-2. Other than under existing
contracts, COs and other warranted personnel using the purchase card to
make purchases above the micro-purchase threshold shall obtain competitive
quotations for all purchases.
- 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, 41 U.S.C. § 428: FAR 13.202(a)(2).
- Dormant Accounts. Dormant accounts are accounts with no
account activity over a period of 12 months. LAPCs shall review dormant accounts at
least annually to determine whether they should be cancelled. A dormant account will be cancelled by
the LAPC or APC unless the AO provides a justification for the account to
- Environmentally 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 EO 13514,
October 5, 2009 and Presidential Memorandum “Driving Innovation and
Creating Jobs in Rural America through Biobased
and Sustainable Product Procurement”.
This preference extends to acquisitions at all dollar levels,
including those accomplished using the purchase card. The USDA BioPreferred
Program mandates the use of designated products unless certain conditions
are met. For more information visit
the USDA website at http://www.biopreferred.gov.
- Ethics Requirements. The Office of Government Ethics’
Standards of Conduct for Executive Branch Employees apply to use of the
purchase card and related alternative payment methods. Cardholders with questions regarding the
propriety of a particular purchase should consult their LAPC or APC,
servicing contracting office, or USDA’s Ethics Office, for guidance and
assistance prior to making the purchase.
- Federal Procurement
Data System Next Generation (FPDS-NG). All purchase card
transactions over the micro purchase threshold must be processed in
a USDA procurement system: Integrated Acquisition System (IAS), Web-based
Supply Chain Management System (WBSCM), or Virtual Incident Procurement (VIPR).
Reports to FPDS-NG should be made via a procurement system interface
(if available) or directly, as appropriate. Failure to adhere to
this requirement shall result in card suspension until FPDS-NG and the
applicable USDA procurement system are brought up to date.
- Priority of Use - Purchase Card vs.
Related Alternative Payment Methods.
The purchase card is the preferred method for making purchases
within the simplified acquisition threshold. Cardholders shall use pre-paid cards or
declining balance cards in preference to convenience checks. Convenience checks are the least
desirable alternative payment method, due to potential misuse and the need
for DCIA compliance.
- Prohibition on Acquiring Hazardous Items. Cardholders other than authorized
warranted USDA employees may not use the purchase card or related
alternative payment methods to acquire firearms, ammunition, explosives, hazardous
biological and radioactive substances, or regulated chemicals (as defined
by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) without an agency waiver
bestowed by the Senior Procurement Executive (SPE. For such items, requisitions are to be
prepared and forwarded to the servicing contracting office after obtaining
any required approvals and licenses.
Cardholders should refer to their agency guidance for specific
- Prohibition on Writing Convenience Checks
over $2,500. It is USDA policy that
convenience checks shall not be issued over $2,500. Warranted purchase cardholders who need
to issue checks over $2,500 due to a documented emergency shall secure prior
approval from the APC. (Refer to
the definition of “emergency” in Section 7p).
- Regulatory Applicability. Use of the purchase card or related
alternative payment methods must be consistent with the FAR, OMB, Agriculture
Acquisition Regulation (AGAR), Federal Management Regulation (FMR), Federal
Property Management Regulation (FPMR), Agriculture Property Management
Regulation (AGPMR), Office of Government Ethics’ Standards of Conduct for
Executive Branch Employees, and Agency regulations.
- Requirement to Timely and Accurately Approve
Transactions by Cardholders. It is USDA policy that cardholders shall approve
their transactions no later than 30 days after a transaction appears in the EAS, absent
extenuating circumstances. Failure
to timely and accurately approve transactions shall constitute grounds for
management to revoke the purchase card and/or alternative payment method privileges
and may subject the cardholder to possible disciplinary action. The account of any cardholder who fails
to approve transactions within 60 days after each transaction appears in the
EAS will be temporarily suspended.
No account suspended can be re-activated until all transactions in
the account are approved. For
additional information on cardholder responsibilities, refer to the Cardholder’s Purchase Card Program
Guide. For additional
information on LAPC responsibilities, refer to the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide. It is also USDA’s policy that only the
cardholder shall approve their individual cardholder account. LAPCs shall monitor cardholder
transactions on a monthly basis to ensure cardholders approve their
transactions in a timely manner.
Cardholders shall provide AO’s copies of transaction documentation
for final approval purposes.
- Requirement to Timely and Accurately Grant
Final Approve Transactions by Approving Officials (AOs). It is USDA policy that AOs are to grant final
approval of cardholder transactions within 30 days, of the date the transactions
appear in the AO’s Manager Approval Queue.
All card accounts assigned to an AO who fails to approve transactions within a total of 60 days will be suspended,
absent extenuating circumstances. Suspended
accounts can be reactivated after all transactions are approved and the AO
submits a request for reinstatement to the LAPC. Persistent failure to conduct timely
and accurate final approval of transactions shall constitute grounds
for management to revoke purchase card and/or alternative payment method
privileges of all cardholders assigned to the AO and may subject the AO to
possible administrative action. For
additional information on AO responsibilities, refer to the Approving Official’s Purchase Card Program Guide. For additional information on LAPC
responsibilities, refer to the Coordinator’s
Purchase Card Program Guide. It
is also USDA’s policy that only the AO shall have final approval of their
cardholder(s) account. LAPCs shall
monitor AOs’ transactions on a monthly basis to ensure AOs final approve
transactions in a timely manner. In
the absence of the AO, this responsibility lies with the LAPC.
on Acquiring Food and Bottled Water. The use of appropriated funds is generally not allowed for the purchase of food or
refreshments; Cardholders should consult with the appropriate budget or financial
office to see if exceptions apply to their specific situation. When food,
refreshments, or bottled water are allowable purchases, the purchase
card is an acceptable form of payment as long as the purchase is within the
cardholder’s delegated single purchase limit and agency procedures have been
- Use of Alternative Payment Methods for
Employee Reimbursements. When it
is not practical to reimburse
employees through direct deposit, alternative payment methods may be used
for reimbursements for local travel and expenses that were previously
addressed through the use of imprest funds,
(1) Local taxicabs, subway or bus
fares, parking, and local vehicle mileage incurred on official business;
(2) Local and long distance
official telephone calls;
(3) Registration fees;
(4) Tuition, books, and related
(5) Supplies or services of an
emergency nature, not to exceed $500.
submit either an approved SF-1164 (Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on
Official Business), an approved SF-182 (Request, Authorization, Agreement and
Certification of Training), or other agency designated form, 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. Prior to purchasing, employees
are expected to contact the cardholder servicing their office when they need to
obtain supplies or services, except in emergencies or other situations in which
it is not possible to contact the cardholder. Employees assume a risk when making purchases
using their own private funds and could be financially liable for purchases
made outside of federal procurement procedures.
- User Alerts. As part of oversight, user alerts are to
be responded to by coordinators, in accordance with the procedures in the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program
Year-End - At the end of each fiscal year, cardholders and AOs shall approve
all transactions visible in the EAS. Cardholders
and AOs shall approve all transactions in accordance with agency procedures,
but no later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year.
Year-End - Cardholders and AOs shall approve all transactions visible in the EAS as
of the last working day of each December.
This approval assists the NFC) to prepare year-end reports to the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS). Approval must be
completed no later than 15 days after the end of the calendar year. Failure to timely and accurately approve transactions
may cause inaccuracies in agency status of funds information. In addition, failure to cite correct BOCs
and, for convenience check recipients, Employer Identification Numbers (EINs)
or Social Security Numbers (SSNs), may cause Form 1099s to be erroneously issued
(or not issued) to USDA employees and vendors.
10. ACQUISITION OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES SOLD BY
Purchase cardholders are required to follow all
procurement policies and requirements as stated in the FAR pertaining to
acquisitions or purchases made with the government purchase card. Special emphasis should be given to the
entirety of FAR Part 8 (Required Sources of Supplies and Services) and FAR Subpart
13.2 (Actions At or Below the Micro-Purchase Threshold) and FAR Subpart 13.3
(Simplified Acquisitions). USDA does
have additional mandatory sources that must also be considered when making
purchases with the purchase card. Cardholder’s
are to refer to the USDA Procurement Policy Website at http://www.dm.usda.gov/procurement/,
their LAPC, or their agency contracting service office to see what mandatory sources
11. RESPONSIBILITIES AND PROCEDURES
Purchase Card Program Guide and Approving Official’s Purchase Card
Program Guide provide the cardholder and AO with details of how the
Purchase Card Program works and instructions for using the purchase card and
related alternative payment methods. Refer to the guides for complete
details on cardholder and AO purchasing and transaction management
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:
- DPM. The DPM is responsible for overall
management of the purchase card program at the Departmental level.
- APC. The APC is responsible for the overall
program in each agency and is the agency’s contact with the DPM. 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 management. Qualifications and appointment
procedures of an APC are listed in the Coordinator’s
Purchase Card Program Guide.
- LAPC. LAPCs are appointed locally by the Head
of Contracting Activity Designee (HCAD, subject to the concurrence of the APC. Qualifications of an LAPC are listed in
the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide. The LAPC is responsible for the
day-to-day operations of the purchase card program at each site. This includes account set up and
maintenance, oversight of purchase card transactions, review of purchase
limits, and suspension or activation of cardholder accounts. LAPCs are to report incidents of misuse,
abuse, waste, and fraud to the cardholder’s supervisor for appropriate
personnel action in accordance with Departmental guidelines. Refer to the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide for additional
guidance. It is USDA policy that Coordinators
that are also cardholders shall not manage and/or perform oversight duties
for their own purchase card transactions.
In addition, Coordinators who are cardholders are assigned to
different hierarchies in the EAS to enforce this policy.
- AO. Subject to the concurrence of the LAPC
or APC, AOs determine who within their organizations should receive
purchase cards and convenience checks. AOs determine the monthly purchase limits
and recommend initial single purchase limits of cardholders within their
organizations within the overall limits contained in Section 14. An AO is the first line of control over
the purchasing activity of cardholders in their units. AOs review cardholder purchase card
transactions to verify that they are necessary and that they are not part
of the prohibited charges list contained in section 15e. The AO is to verify that the supplies
and services have in fact been received.
AOs shall recommend appropriate personnel action in the event a purchase
card or related alternative payment method is abused by a cardholder.
- Cardholder. The cardholder is the individual to whom
a card or cardless account is issued. After the cardholder has received
training, 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
account and, if issued, alternative payment methods. Use of alternative
payment methods may require additional authorization. No other person is authorized to approve
the cardholder transactions except the LAPC when a cardholder has
separated from the agency, or
cannot approve transactions due to extenuating circumstances.
- Financial Point of Contact (FPOC). These individuals review the accounting
information obtained using the EAS and government financial system. Each agency will determine the
organizational level appropriate for performance of this function.
- Billing Office Contact. The National Finance Center (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. Department of the Treasury.
12. SEPARATION OF DUTIES
Key duties and responsibilities
shall be segregated among different roles to reduce the risk of error or
fraud. This shall include separating the
responsibilities for making purchases, authorizing transactions, processing and
recording them, reviewing the transactions, and handling any related
assets. No one individual shall control
all aspects of the transaction. Agencies
shall implement internal controls to mitigate the risk of fraud, misuse, and
abuse in accordance with the guidance in OMB Circular A-123, Appendices A and
B. As stated in Section 8h, Coordinators
who are cardholders cannot have both roles in the same hierarchies in the
EAS. Each role must be in a separate hierarchy,
one to maintain and handle the functions of a coordinator, and a separate
hierarchy for use as a cardholder. These
hierarchies must be created with two unique user IDs to ensure separation of
duties and to comply with OMB Circular A-123 Policy. Coordinators identified for managing and/or
performing oversight duties for their own purchase card transactions will have
five days to transfer their cardholder account to a different hierarchy than
the one maintained as Coordinator.
Failure to make the change shall result in cardholder account
termination or Coordinator user ID suspension or cancellation.
information, refer to either the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide
or Cardholder’s Purchase Card Program
13. PURCHASE CARD OVERSIGHT
The DPM, APCs,
LAPCs, AOs, FPOCs, OPPM/CCSC, and the USDA OIG monitor purchase card
transactions through tools such as the EAS, statistical sampling, and query
tool software. Cardholders are required to comply with any requests by
the DPM, APC, LAPC, OPPM/CCSC, USDA OIG, and other duly authorized
organizations/individuals for information/investigations regarding purchases. Any inquiries into purchase card use from
federal agencies external to USDA will be referred to the OPPM/CCSC for
AOs shall monitor
purchasing activity of cardholders who are assigned to them. AOs shall perform an online review of all
cardholder transactions that appear in the AO’s Manager Approval Queue. AOs shall be responsible for reviewing their
manager queue at least once every 30 days.
AOs shall physically review the cardholders’ documentation of all
transactions selected for final approval (i.e., vendor name, transaction price,
and date reconciled). AOs shall notify
the cardholder’s LAPC if they identify questionable transactions or possible
misuse of the card and/or related alternative payment method. AOs shall notify the cardholder’s LAPC to cancel
the card if the cardholder leaves the unit or no longer requires a card. Unless otherwise specified in Agency
procedures, AOs shall collect and destroy purchase cards and/or unused checks
from cardholders separating from their agency.
AOs will confirm to the LAPC that the actual cards/checks assigned to
the cardholders were destroyed.
14. DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
- General. In accordance with 7 CFR 2.93, the SPE of
the 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
($3,000 or less). The USDA SPE delegates
micro-purchase procurement authority through this regulation. Letters of delegation from the HCAs or
their designees HCADs are unnecessary for delegated authority of $3,000.00
on the government purchase card. AOs
determine to whom cards and convenience checks will be issued. They can request authority for
non-warranted personnel up to and including $3,000.00 for purchase cards
and $2,500.00 on convenience checks when allowable by their agency. These requests shall be submitted to the
LAPC for approval and subsequent action.
Issuance of the purchase card confers the authority up to the
specified purchase limit in the EAS.
This authority terminates upon the employee's separation from the
organization or cancellation of the card by the APC or LAPC.
- Purchases Over $3,000. The micro-purchase threshold, as defined
in FAR 2.101 or as otherwise provided by law, may exceed $3,000 under
certain circumstances (e.g., purchases of supplies or services to
facilitate defense against or recovery from terrorism). In such cases, HCAs
or their designees may issue letters of delegation to selected
non-warranted cardholders authorizing them
to purchase supplies or services above the micro-purchase threshold established for the given situation. The letter of delegation shall state the
reason why the employee is authorized to make micro-purchases over $3,000,
and the amount of the employee’s temporary single purchase limit. The letter shall be submitted to the
cognizant LAPC who shall make the necessary changes in the EAS. This authority terminates upon revocation
of the letter of delegation, the employee's separation from the
organization, or cancellation of the card by the APC or LAPC. All documentation must be retained in
accordance with Federal Records requirements.
- Simplified Acquisitions and Formal
Contracts. Only warranted USDA
employees (see Section 7ee) may purchase above the micro-purchase level. Warranted personnel may use their
purchase card and related alternative payment methods in accordance with FAR
up to the single and monthly purchase limits established for their cards. Special
emphasis shall be give to all of Subchapter C (Contracting Methods and
Contract Types) as well as Part 12 (Acquisition of Commercial items) of
the FAR. Convenience checks are limited to $2,500 except in emergencies. The
single purchase limit established for warranted personnel may not exceed
the lesser of the amount of the individual’s delegated authority or $1
million dollars. Requests to exceed
$1 million dollars may be approved by the APC on a case-by-case basis. The single purchase limit shall never
exceed the warranted individual’s delegated authority. Refer to (DR) 5001-1, Acquisition
Workforce, Training, Delegation and Tracking Systems, and DR 5100-2, Real
Property Leasing Officer Warrant System, 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 shall be directed to the LAPC
for action and must be approved by the cardholder's AO 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). Changes to a cardholder's
single purchase limit and/or monthly spending limit shall be completed
through the EAS.
USE OF CARDS AND RELATED ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS
specific guidelines on using the purchase card and related alternative payment
methods. The Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide and Cardholder’s
Purchase Card Program 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 authority and ability to use other alternative payment methods
as well as administrative action. Administrative action may include the
termination of the purchase card. The
following is a brief overview and is not inclusive of all conditions relating
to the purposes for which the card and related alternative payment methods may
or may not be used:
- Supplies, Equipment, and Non-personal
Services. The purchase card may
be used to purchase supplies (authorized supplies and equipment) and
non-personal services in accordance with the limits established for a
cardholder. It may also be used to
acquire, on a temporary or short-term basis (up to 180 days), rental space
including meeting and conference rooms, parking for government-owned or
leased vehicles, or storage. The cardholder must ensure there is
adequate funding and the item is purchased at a fair and reasonable
price. Program payments are prohibited.
or Promotional Items. In accordance with EO 13589, agencies shall eliminate unnecessary spending on
non-monetary recognition items or promotional items such as plaques,
clothing, gift cards/certificates, as well as any other promotional items.
Agencies shall be held responsible
and accountable for restricting the purchases of these items within their
agency to cut wasteful spending. Agencies
are responsible and accountable for tracking their purchases and reporting
to USDA’s CCSC at a minimum annually in accordance with the OHRM DR
4040-451-1. Agencies shall keep
records on the type of promotional item or honoraria given, number of
items given, cost, and reason why this was provided. All necessary human resource forms
including but not limited to AD-287, AD-287-2, AD-287-3A, and or AD-495
must be completed and kept on file for three (3) years.
- Convenience Checks. Convenience checks are an optional tool
available under USDA's purchase card program, limited to a maximum
individual amount not to exceed $2,500 without prior approval for ALL
Agency employees (see also FAR 13.305-3, where convenience checks are also
known as third party drafts). The checks are simply written to a vendor and,
once cashed, will be reflected as a transaction against the cardholder's
account. Convenience checks may be utilized for purchases by certain
mission areas only when: (i) the vendor or
merchant will not accept the purchase card, the debit or pre-paid card, or
direct entry into the vendor or merchant financial organization (see
Section 7l); and (ii) at least one of the DCIA (Public Law No 104-134) waivers
is satisfied. A list of the DCIA waivers is included in the Coordinator’s
Purchase Card Program Guide and the Cardholder’s Purchase Card
Program Guide. The use of convenience checks is appropriate only
if there is no other way, under the circumstances of the required
transaction, to accomplish the transaction. Each convenience check must be
entered in a check register or log for tracking purposes. There is a
1.7 percent administrative fee charged by the bank for checks. This fee
must be funded before the check is used and must be separately listed in
the cardholder’s log. The following are considered appropriate
uses for convenience checks:
(a) Emergencies where the purchase card or one of
the other alternative payment methods is not a viable solution.
with small and/or rural businesses which are not yet able to accept the
purchase card. Cardholders are to
demonstrate their inability to locate merchants that accept the purchase card.
approved transactions for which the imprest funds
were previously used that cannot be addressed using the purchase card or
another alternative payment method (see Section 9).
- Gift Cards/Gift Certificates.
Agencies shall not permit the purchase card and/or alternative payment
methods to be used for the purchase of merchant gift cards or certificates
without first obtaining a waiver from the OPPM. Agencies shall submit waiver requests to
the USDA CCSC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Waiver requests shall include the
agency’s internal control plan relating to the use of gift cards as
informal recognition awards. The purchase
of gift cards is regulated under the directive of the Office of Human
Resource Management (OHRM DR 4040-451-1, USDA Employee Awards and
Purchases/Uses. The purchase card and alternative payment
methods shall not be used for any of the following: cash advances;
establishment of imprest funds and maintenance
or replenishment of cash balances in imprest
funds; cash awards; money orders; salary payments; long-term rental or
lease of land or buildings; rental or lease of motor vehicles; official
travel expenses (e.g., purchase of airline, bus, or train tickets;
purchase of meals, lodging, or other travel-related subsistence costs);
personal purchases; in lieu of the Fleet card (fuel and vehicle repair and
maintenance); or hazardous items except as allowed by mission critical
need and proper requisition and agency approval. AO shall not Final Approve transactions
for any of the prohibited purchases/uses listed above. The AO should reject the transaction
back to the cardholder. Failure to
reject the transaction back to the cardholder may result in removal from the
AO role. (See Special Instructions,
Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program Guide, and the Cardholder’s
Purchase Card Program Guide).
- Appendix A. Appendix A is an outline of payment
methods that may be used in lieu of convenience checks. Agencies may
use these methods or may implement any other alternative methods which
meet their needs, provided the selected methods are consistent with USDA
acquisition and fiscal management policies and regulations.
16. COMPLEX REQUIREMENTS AND USE OF THE PURCHASE CARD
personnel shall use the purchase card for complex, unique, or high-risk
actions, in accordance with cardholder’s single purchase limit. Non-warranted
cardholders must forward a requisition to the servicing contracting office for
review and approval prior to using the purchase card as a payment tool. Examples of complex, unique, or high-risk
actions include: (1) the purchase of 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-critical need; (5) high performance risk; (6)
similar factors indicating that the requirement is complex or unusual in nature;
(7) architect and engineering (A&E) services;
and (8) construction services over $2,000. To purchase these items, requisitions shall
be prepared and forwarded to the servicing contracting office after obtaining
agency required approvals and licenses (if any). Cardholders shall refer to your Agency guidance
for specific instructions.
17. TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR PURCHASE CARD TRANSACTIONS
- Micro-Purchases. In 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 CO 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.
Solicitations, contracts and purchase orders using the purchase
card should also provide and/or allow the following:
purchase card shall be accepted for all purchases and payments under the
contract or order.
(2) Prices reflected in the order and/or Section B
of the contract (as appropriate) reflect use of the purchase card.
contractor shall not process a transaction for payment using the purchase card
until: (i) the purchased supplies have been shipped
or (ii) purchased services have been performed. (For subscriptions, the
contractor may process the transaction for payment upon receipt of the order.)
(4) The Contractor shall immediately credit the
purchase cardholder's account for items and related charges for items returned
as defective, unless the CO requests correction or replacement of a defective
or faulty item.
18. TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
(cardholders and AOs) must be trained before receiving a purchase card and/or related
alternative payment method with micro-purchase authority. Non-warranted personnel must receive training
in micro-purchase regulations and procedures as well as the EAS, before a card
may be conferred. Cardholders and their AOs must be able to certify that
they have received the training, understand the regulations and procedures, and
know the consequences of inappropriate actions.
Head is responsible for ensuring participants are adequately trained in the
USDA Purchase Card Program and appropriate documentation of training is
maintained. Materials have been developed for use in training
cardholders, APCs, LAPCs, AOs and others involved in using or monitoring
purchase card transactions. Documentation of training must be maintained
for audit purposes by the agency. These
training materials are listed in the Coordinator’s Purchase Card Program
Guide and the USDA Charge
Card Program website (http://www.dm.usda.gov/procurement/ccsc/pc_guides_ref.htm).
personnel will receive credit towards their training maintenance requirements
based upon the duration of time spent receiving official training for
coordinators and/or cardholders.
training is required every two years for all participants of the USDA Charge
Card Program via AgLearn in the form of cardholder
and ethics for the purchase card. Non-
warranted cardholders are required to take refresher training every year in
ethics and cardholder policy. Participants will be notified via email when
refresher training is needed.
19. USE OF THE CARD AND/OR RELATED ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS FOR
DISASTER, CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS, INDEMNITY, AND OTHER PROGRAM PAYMENTS
operations, and other emergency program payments for the procurement of
supplies or services under the FAR shall be allowed on the purchase card
provided the Micro-purchase threshold is increased by the head of the agency.
Additionally, agencies shall use the purchase card and/or related alternative
payment methods to make disaster or Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)
without receiving approval from the SPE or head of the agency as allowed
through other statutes, laws, and policies covering the government purchase
about the USDA Purchase Card Program should be directed through Agency channels
(the cognizant APC and LAPC to the DPM in the OPPM at email@example.com. For technical
inquiries, refer to the Troubleshooting section in either the Coordinator’s
Purchase Card Program Guide or Cardholder’s
Purchase Card Program Guide for specific details.