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Local colleges say they keep tabs on credit card use
University System of Georgia examining 612,000 transactions
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In the wake of a probe of "purchasing card" activities at Georgia’s colleges and universities, area college officials say they have policies in place that closely guard against fraud.

"Our policies and internal control processes ensure strict monitoring of all card transactions," said James Barnaby, director of materials management at North Georgia College & State University, last week. "Every charge is carefully reviewed and must successfully pass four levels of audit."

Paul Glaser, vice president for business and finance at Gainesville State College in Oakwood, said the college has guidelines in place above what the state requires.

And the college’s purchasing director, Donna Kindon, said, "We took our policy a step further by clearly defining what is and is not allowed.

"We also have a ‘three strikes and you are out’ for individuals who submit paperwork late or incomplete."

The University System of Georgia is studying each of the 612,000 transactions made in 2007 on the credit cards, which are used for work-related purposes, said John Millsaps, spokesman for the university system.

And the agency plans to hold employees accountable for misuse.

Earlier in the month, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked all state agencies to review the use of the cards after an audit showed evidence of abuse.

"This is an involved process and we expect to (finish the probe) in January," Millsaps said.

The program has grown over the years, and there are now 20,000 cards circulating in 129 agencies. The bills are paid directly by the agencies.

NGCSU processed some 7,000 transactions for a total of $1.5 million in fiscal 2006. Those numbers jumped to 9,000 transactions and $2.2 million in fiscal 2007, Barnaby said.

Gainesville State had 8,124 transactions totaling about $2.6 million during the 2006-07 academic year, Kindon said.

Barnaby said that if officials find a minor policy violation, "we will write the cardholder a letter warning them of the policy violation."

"If the cardholder commits a second minor violation, we suspend card privileges for that person," he added. "Stronger disciplinary actions are taken in the case of fraud or abuse."

NGCSU also underwent a review by the state auditor in August 2007 and no violations were identified, Barnaby said.

The college’s spokesman, Joshua Preston, said that, as a purchasing card holder, he can vouch for the school’s tight guidelines.

"Every penny on the monthly credit card statements has to be reconciled and add up to the total balance," he said.

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