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Track the Untraceable: Learn How To Follow Up on Purchases Made with a Government Purchasing Card (P-Card)

Track the Untraceable: Learn How To Follow Up on Purchases Made with a Government Purchasing Card (P-Card)

In the U.S., the most common method used by governments for making purchases is through a competitive procurement process, which typically involves the publication of a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ) that outlines the requirements for the goods or services being sought, as well as the evaluation criteria that will be used to select a vendor. Interested vendors can then submit proposals or quotes in response to the RFP/RFQ, and government agencies will evaluate the submissions and select the vendor that best meets their needs.

However, government agencies may also use other methods for making purchases. For instance,  sole-source procurement is often used, where a single vendor is selected without competition.  For purchases below a certain dollar threshold and involve a streamlined procurement process, simplified acquisition procedures are used, which are also referred to as Government Purchasing Card (P-Card) purchases.

The existing systems, procedures, and methods used for purchases that involve publishing an RFP or RFQ enable the straightforward monitoring of transactions conducted by government agencies. However, this is not the case for Government P-Card purchases. 

Government agencies often have thousands of employees, hundreds of them with their own Government P-Card, and each one can be used to make multiple purchases every month, creating a massive amount of data that must be sorted and analyzed to ensure compliance with procurement regulations. Additionally, Government P-Card holders may use their cards to make purchases from a variety of vendors, both in-person and online. Tracking and following up on these purchases can be a significant challenge for government agencies, as these transactions are typically not subject to the same level of scrutiny as competitive procurement processes.

How are these purchases controlled? How are transactions monitored? How do we track the untraceable?

Government agencies could review P-Card statements to gain insight into the types of purchases being made and identify any potential irregularities, conduct audits to verify the accuracy and validity of transactions, implement data analytics to identify patterns and trends in P-Card transactions and implement internal controls to help prevent and detect fraudulent or inappropriate P-Card transactions. 

It would require a significant investment of time, resources, and money to implement these separate strategies to track Government P-Card purchases. 

We at Glass believe that this process can be simplified through the use of the right digital tools and solutions. There is no need to spend valuable time manually reviewing every P-Card statement or divert resources to perform internal and external audits or hire data analytics professionals. We understand that government agencies may not have the capacity to dedicate significant resources to this issue. That’s why we created Glass Commerce, a secure government marketplace for Government P-Card purchases, where governments can effectively monitor and track P-Card purchases, which will not only promote transparency and accountability but also make a socio-economic impact.

As an example, in 2022, Pittsburg, California, took action on this issue by creating the City of Pittsburg’s Government Marketplace, an e-commerce platform that makes it easy for government buyers to secure goods and services from diverse small and local businesses.

Now, government buyers can not only obtain goods, services, and rentals in a convenient and compliant manner but also follow up on every transaction that is made by Pittsburg’s P-Card holders. 

Want to know more about Pittsburg’s Government Marketplace and how the city is tracking the untraceable? Head over to!


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