General Services Administration fleet card managers and auditors rely on data to spot fraud and abuse of government charge cards, according to Federal Times
. The agencies track how many gallons of gas were bought, which station sold the gas and when and how much was paid.
Charles Augone, assistant inspector general of GSA for investigations, explains different schemes, like what he calls the "friends and family plan:" the employee meets a relative at a service station, gasses up the government car and then fills up the relative’s car using the government card.
Other government employees have run "half-off sales," in which they sell gas for cash at a discount to other gas station customers and pay for that gas with a government fleet card, Augone said.
Electronic data gathering allows the Inspector General to investigate cases in real time, rather than long after the fact, as was the case when the office was working with paper receipts, said Gregory Rowe, director of investigations for the IG’s office.
In the 2006 fiscal year, 17 million transactions, amounting to $1.1 billion worth of gasoline and maintenance services, were made using the fleet cards, according to GSA data. Many of those cases involved information theft or vendors who were double-billing the cards, rather than employee theft, said Augone.
Because each card is attached to a vehicle, not a driver, it is more difficult to tie fraud and abuse to a single person, Federal Times
The transaction data available on fuel purchases, coupled with other point-of-sale information such as vehicle odometer readings and personal identification numbers (PINs), help managers identify patterns of potential abuse, GSA Fleet Director Bill Webster said.
The data can inform managers and investigators whether a driver is spending more than expected for the number of miles traveled and whether they are buying more gasoline than the capacity of the tank.