By the Center for Government Innovation

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The Center for Government Innovation has published two new resources to help local governments identify best practices for two different, but possibly related areas: credit card programs and travel expenditures.

Credit card programs

Are you interested in starting a credit card program, or do you need help evaluating the effectiveness of controls to put in place? Our new resource identifies 16 best practices to consider in designing your control system. Credit card programs can range from those used for travel, to procurement cards for small or incidental purchases, and merchant cards used only at a specific retailer. Although credit cards can make purchasing easier, they also come with greater risk of misuse and mismanagement. We encourage local governments to periodically evaluate their systems of internal control over credit card programs to keep up with changing issues. This new resource provides a starting place for doing so.

Travel expenditures

Travel is common for government employees, and it can be challenging to manage. Similar to credit card programs, travel expenditures can be subject to misuse. Our new resource identifies 21 best practices to consider when evaluating your internal controls. These best practices range from encouraging economic travel, to pre-approving travel estimates and using standardized forms, such as one that discloses all expenses. The resource also includes several best practices for those who issue travel advances. Be sure to check out the appendix that includes many economical travel considerations for airfare, lodging, meals and transportation. We encourage you to use this new resource to help you improve your control system over travel expenditures.

For more information about credit card and travel policies, these resources provide links to the recently updated Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) Financial Policies Tool Kit. Our Office partnered with MRSC to provide this new detailed guidance. We appreciate the partnership with MRSC in developing these new resources, and their input on these best practices.

We hope you find these new resources helpful, and we’d love to hear from you. Email us with your questions, comments, or recommendations for new resources at Center@sao.wa.gov.

For specific technical questions about accounting for credit cards or travel expenditures, governments may also submit questions to our Audit HelpDesk (available via our Online Services).

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