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July 15, 2010

  • News:  Maryland Credit Card Policy Commendable

    Like most of the states in the union, Maryland officials conducted an audit of the state issued credit cards to employees. Maryland has approximately 7,500 state cards in the hands of employees. A recent audit by the Comptroller's Office revealed that most employees were using state credit cards according to policy. There were, however, a few cases of abuse which resulted in termination or resignation. Some minor cases of unintentional misuse of state cards were discovered which has been appropriately addressed. To date for year 2010, Maryland state employees have spent over $200 million on nearly 700,000 credit card transactions.

    Maryland has some unique security protection safeguards in place to prevent employees from using the cards for unauthorized purchases such as alcohol and dining. Although the credit cards resemble Visa and MasterCard type cards, they operate differently than a traditional card. These cards are bright red and stamped "official use only." The cards have built in restrictions that prevent excessive spending to meet policy guidelines and prevent its use for the unauthorized merchandise. Maryland's state issued credit cards will not work with airlines or any other travel business. The state issued one card to each of its ten agencies and is monitored on a monthly basis.

    All attempts to use the cards at any unauthorized location or site is reported on a monthly basis to the State of Maryland Comptroller's Office. The state attributes its overall success in proper credit card management to its "detailed set of guidelines." The state carefully and thoroughly defined the process of applying for a state card and clearly outlines its use and proper documentation of all transactions. Policy guidelines move each transaction through the scrutiny of several departments before its final review and payment. If any agency does not follow all guidelines of checks and balances, their card privileges are suspended. Furthermore, a regular review of the policy is conducted by a steering committee made up of several state agency staff members. Looking at Maryland's success, it might behoove other state officials to ring Maryland's Comptroller for some pointers.

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