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Sitting Down With..
Pat Gaydos, Purchase Card Program Manager/Coordinator, Office of Acquisition and Grants, U.S. Social Security Administration

Pat Gaydos is Agency Purchase Card Program Manager/Coordinator for the U.S. Social Security Administration's Office of Acquisition and Grants. The program she manages includes over 2,900 cardholders across nearly 1,300 Social Security offices across the country. Pat has more than 14 years' worth of knowledge about running a successful charge card program. We sat down with her and asked her to share some of that wisdom.

Since Pay and Chase was instituted, our Purchase Card Program has amassed a total of nearly $11 million in refunds alone.

Pat, the SSA's Purchase Card Program has had an interesting history.

It certainly has. In 1988, the Administration's Purchase Card program, which was at U.S. Bank at the time, was available only to management personnel.

In 1998, we transitioned the program to Citibank and its SmartPay® 1 program. There were two important success components to that program. The first was "Pay and Chase." This essentially meant that the SSA paid Citi at the end of every business day to maximize our rebates. Since Pay and Chase was instituted back then, our Purchase Card Program has amassed a total of nearly $11 million in refunds alone.

The second major success component of SmartPay 1 was transitioning from SSA's Purchase Card Reporting System, in which cardholders reallocated their purchase transactions, to the Citi system in 2003. Thus, we became 100 percent automated, which made a huge difference, because the approving officials were then able to review, approve and close statements electronically.

Account transaction reallocations were certified more quickly. In fact, the reallocation and certification processes are now web-based and occur in real time, which has resulted in an enormous timeliness improvement of these processes.

A third major success occurred in 2008 under the SmartPay 2 program, which provided online real-time web services capability through Citi's electronic access system for interfacing with the Agency Accounting System.

Automation also means paper-freedom, doesn't it?

Yes, and it soon got even better. In 2005, the SmartPay 1 program was enhanced again, and our program went to paper-free cardholder statements and reports. So we were getting more efficient at the same time we were getting greener.

How do you minimize delinquencies in your Purchase Card Program?

We do not have delinquencies because we use the Pay and Chase payment method in our Purchase Card Program.

How has Citi fared in supporting you and your team?

I've been given great people from Citi to work on this program. At all levels, the Citi team understands the client's needs, they understand their responsibilities. Citi just makes things very easy. It's been a pleasure working with them.

Pat, for the benefit of new GSA Purchase Card Program Managers who want their program to be as effective as yours, what are the key ingredients for success?

First, knowledge. Be knowledgeable about your procurement office, its processes and policies. Your agency should have purchase cardholders and approving officials with the expertise to fulfill their responsibilities properly. Training and continued guidance and support are essential, so be sure ongoing training is conducted.

Second, dedication. Be a professional who is dedicated to your program's success. Be sure to perform timely reviews. Participate in Citi's TAG meetings and offer feedback and suggestions. I'm proud to say that we have suggested many program enhancements to Citi, and nearly all of them have been implemented.

Third, oversight. Your agency should implement sound acquisition and financial policies, strong controls, and constant surveillance and oversight, in order to mitigate fraud, abuse and misuse of your Purchase Card Program.

And fourth, support. Your program needs the support of upper management. They must believe in the program in order for it to be successful.

Great advice. Thank you for your time, Pat.

My pleasure.

The information provided is for general use only. Contact the GSA Contracting Officer with any questions related to proper use of the master contract.