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Charging Ahead: Has the Government Purchase Card Exceeded Its Limit

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Master's thesis

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The Federal Government implemented broad-based and tumultuous acquisition reform throughout the 1990s. Rapid changes affected almost every aspect of federal procurement law, policy, and practice. As agencies and procurement professionals continue implementation of the various changes imposed upon the procurement system by both the Congress and the President, a cumulative assessment of the reform era remains premature. Many acquisition reform initiatives still lack traction. However, at least one reform, responsible for dramatically altering the Governments purchasing behavior, merits prompt attention and examination. Surprisingly, this reform is unrelated to the Governments largest or most complex purchases of supplies, services, or construction. Rather, this government-wide behavioral sea change derives from a common-sense solution to an age-old problem simplifying the acquisition process for Governments high volume of small-dollar buying. Throughout the last decade, primarily at the behest of Vice President Gores Performance Review, the Government embraced a concerted effort to reform small-dollar purchasing by integrating the familiar plastic charge card into the procurement process. While this effort may seem too elementary to be declared revolutionary the government charge card, now better known as the government purchase card, has proven to be one of the most significant and far reaching acquisition reform initiatives of the 1990s. These convenient plastic cards, the ubiquitous tool of consumers around the globe, have revolutionized the way the U.S. Government buys and pays for the vast majority of its purchases. Possibly, because the Government embraced the use of charge cards long after the public at large, the Governments use of this new procurement vehicle has quickly skyrocketed. Observers expect the trend to continue, especially in light of formal Government policy The future is in the cards.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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