GUAM AGENCIES STILL USE CREDIT CARDS

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, October 29) – Gov. Felix Camacho, about a month before taking office, said the government would not use government-issued credit cards, in the wake of credit-card abuse during the past administration.

Officials had been making frequent, unreimbursed personal charges on government cards, and in some cases charged off-island travel, despite receiving cash advances for that travel. Credit cards also were frequently used by officials for on-island purchases.

But credit cards continue to be used, according to the Office of the Public Auditor, which yesterday released a report on credit-card usage by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority (GHURA).

While the agency has limited its use of credit cards -- it has only two -- auditors found problems in the use of those cards, including more than US$40,000 in charges not backed up with supporting documents. There is inadequate communication within the agency when it comes to documenting credit-card usage, according to the report

Late payments also cost the agency an additional US$582 in finance changes, the report states.

The credit cards were not used for inappropriate purchases, the report states, but some purchases were not properly reviewed or approved by management.

GHURA does not need to use credit cards for travel, according to the public auditor, which recommended that GHURA eliminate them.

GHURA Executive Director Ronald DeGuzman responded to the audit in a letter this week, saying the report is not entirely accurate and misrepresents some facts.

"Although we recognize that the revised policy can still be improved upon, the authority takes pride in that the use of the credit-card program was in no way compromised," he stated.

Discontinuing the use of credit cards is an issue for the agency's board to decide, DeGuzman said, and that just because all of the information is not filed together does not mean credit-card transactions are unsupported.

Governor's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao yesterday was asked to comment on the administration's policy with respect to the use of credit cards, but he did not return a call for comment.

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