Electronic purchasing card (ePC) policy

Information about policy in relation to our electronic purchasing card (ePC).

1. ePC Overview

1.1 The core Scottish Government (SG) and a number of its partners use electronic Purchasing Cards (ePC) to purchase and pay for appropriate goods and services that are generally:

  • unavailable on an existing public sector contract; and/or
  • where the supplier is not registered on EASEbuy/PECOS, the government's purchasing system

1.2 The ePC provides a quick and efficient means of payment for appropriate goods and services, largely but not limited to low-value, one-off or annual expenditure (not on a contract). It allows a greater degree of flexibility for the government and partners to buy goods and services where the supplier accepts MasterCard as a payment method.

1.3 Rigorous authorisation and monitoring processes are in place to safeguard the organisation and individuals against any potential reputational risk due to inappropriate or fraudulent use of the card and/or card information.

1.4 The government's contract for the ePC arrangements is provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), who use the MasterCard platform to record transactions made by cards electronically via their transaction system, Smart Data onLine (SDoL).

1.5 To access SDoL, users must provide specific details to the ePC Team. A hierarchy of card holder, approver and controller must be established and maintained by the card user or controller, who will submit any application for a card.

1.6 It is mandatory for card holders (the individual named on the card) to include on SDoL an appropriate description i.e. what was purchased and why, and that the appropriate financial information (cost centre, account code, sub analysis 1, 2, 3 and programme code) is noted of the expenditure undertaken. Card approvers are responsible for ensuring that financial information is correct, there is a comprehensive expenditure description and quotes are saved to eRDM.

1.7 ePC's are issued in the name of an individual card holder, who is the only person permitted to undertake purchases on that card. That card or card information should not under any circumstances be shared, loaned, borrowed or used by anybody else, including by another card holder.

1.8 Each ePC card holder is set up with a default cost centre that they provide on the financial information submitted with the card application.

1.9 These arrangements provide an important expression of the government's commitment to assist the cash flow of businesses and support economic growth through improved payment performance. They support the commitment to transparent government, permitting wider access to the information it holds under the Open Government Partnership 'pioneer' status. They apply the most efficient purchase to pay process for the appropriate 'goods and services in line with our ambitions to reduce the costs of government administration, and contribute to our prompt payment commitment to pay all suppliers within 10 working days.


1.10 ePC arrangements are subject to FoI (Freedom of Information) requests and/or other forms of public scrutiny (for example, media enquiries).

  • There is a ministerial commitment to publish all SG ePC transaction activity of £500 and over on the SG website on a monthly retrospective basis. Partners are responsible for their own publication arrangements and the commitment does not apply to them.
  • When making purchases for Amazon Prime, Spotify or Netflix please consider if the services are essential, are for government use only and provide genuine benefit to the department (e.g. next day and on-going free delivery etc). Any such purchases should be approved by Card Controller or DD with an appropriate expense description – i.e. Spotify account purchased for ministerial events in office, agreed by DD. Non-SG partners are responsible for their own arrangements and this process does not apply to them.
  • ePC expenditure is reported under the payment policy section of the government's annual consolidated accounts.
  • Audit Scotland and SG internal auditors undertake periodic reviews of our ePC arrangements.

1.11 Before committing expenditure to an ePC the transaction must be justified and due consideration given to the scrutiny it could attract.


Email: epc_mailbox@gov.scot

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