Improving PCard accountability

07 May 2021 | Dr Reno Morar, COO

Dear colleagues

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has been using the Purchasing Card (PCard) successfully for years. The auditing and reviewing process has shown that most staff members adhere to UCT policies and use the PCard conscientiously. Thanks to each of you who has taken care to fulfil the requirements and responsibilities that come with the issue and use of a PCard.

In cases where managers have identified misuse of the PCard, the university has taken appropriate disciplinary action. In two recent cases where serious transgressions were identified, the colleagues involved were issued with final written warnings. On 21 July 2020, Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng provided details about how we have improved internal PCard controls.

In March 2021, the University Audit and Risk Committee (UARC) received the latest Internal Audit Review of the PCard. While the UARC has commended management for making significant efforts towards improving our PCard internal controls and accountability, it is now addressing areas of weakness, including, among others:

  • non-compliance with the UCT Purchasing Threshold Policy (PPP002), particularly with the requirement to obtain quotations;
  • failure to follow the Delegated Authority Limits Policy (GEN002);
  • inadequate management of PCard expense reports;
  • lack of effective expense monitoring by a faculty or department;
  • processing of some PCard expense transactions to the incorrect General Ledger account;
  • failure to post PCard transactions after 60 days;
  • continuous non-compliance from identified PCard users; and
  • lack of evidence that PCard users have attended the mandatory PCard training.

It is clear that regulatory and administrative compliance is still a challenge for some PCard holders. To guide management in addressing compliance with PCard policy, we have developed the PCard Policy Practice Note (PUR009), which is aimed at ensuring consistent and fair practice in addressing disciplinary inquiries across UCT. This document does not replace the PCard Policy, but rather provides clarity about the roles and responsibilities of PCard holders and the consequences of non-compliance with the PCard Policy.

I want to make clear that our goal is not to punish, but rather to focus on changing poor practice in the management and administration of PCards at UCT. Consequences of poor practice will vary, depending on the specific context of each case, previous non-compliance with policy, and/or the size of the loss to the University.

The Finance Department is reviewing PCard usage. Staff who are not using the PCards that have been issued to them may be instructed to return them. This is a normal risk reduction practice and is not a disciplinary measure.

I ask all managers to improve compliance with the PCard Policy and Practice Note among their team members. By doing so, we can eliminate adverse findings from internal and external audit reviews and affirm UCT’s management excellence.

I ask all PCard users to read the PCard Policy and Practice Note. If you have any questions about these documents, please discuss them with your team’s finance manager.

Colleagues with PCards who require training can email PCard Admin.


Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer

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