Electronic Purchasing Card (ePC) transactional data, released to the Scottish Labour Party via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, was given to various media outlets in August 2023. The data included both the names of cardholders and wider Scottish Government (SG) staff who would have been referenced for a specific purchase e.g. “Monitor for Joe Bloggs”. The total number of transactions released to the media was 58,751 with a total value of £6,216,696. The extent of the data released, and the supporting transactional detail resulted in multiple reports and commentary in the news and social media, as well as FOI requests. Following initial briefing on the matter, the First Minister commissioned a review on the governance and compliance of ePC use across the SG.
1.1 Use of ePC Within SG
The core SG (and several of its partners) use ePC to purchase and pay for appropriate goods and services, largely but not limited to low-value, one-off or annual expenditure (e.g subscriptions) which are not on contract. The use of ePC for such purchases is common across UK government departments and large businesses. The ePC allows a greater degree of flexibility and is more cost effective for low-value expenditure compared to the traditional invoice purchases.
ePC has been an approved method of payment in the SG for more than twenty years and has policy and guidance in place to support the use of ePC across the SG which is reviewed periodically. The last Internal Audit review was held in 2020.
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