The Mitre Corp. is giving new meaning to "20 Questions." The Bedford, Mass.-based nonprofit, which provides systems, engineering, and IT support to the government, has created a software package for recertifying recipients of procurement cards in its organization.
The package provides a 20-question electronic quiz to cardholders when it's time to reissue their plastic. The idea behind the quiz is to ensure that the cardholder has kept abreast of procurement policy and practices changes that have occurred between renewal periods, which are two years apart.
"We felt it was important that cardholders be kept up to speed periodically," says Mitre purchase card administrator Judi Pepper. One way the company does that is through periodic bulletins on procurement developments. Another is through the software quiz, which tests a cardholder's knowledge of federal acquisition regulations, government cost-accounting standards, and audit compliance procedures for the various agencies with which Mitre does business. The test is corrected automatically, and the results are sent to cardholders and program managers simultaneously. Cardholders aren't reissued a card until they pass the test.
The program worked so well that Mitre made the software freely available to the Feds. Now more than 100 agencies have requested it. Before the program, some 80 percent of all purchases below $2,500 were made with purchase orders; now only about 20 percent use POs. That has resulted in significant savings, since it costs about $100 to process a PO, compared with $12 to $15 to process a p-card transaction.