Electronic purchasing card (ePC) policy

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

2. Using the card

Before using a card

2.1 It is the responsibility of business areas (unless specified otherwise, meaning core government and partners using ePC) to ensure that any card under their responsibility is used only to purchase appropriate goods and services. This extends to providing assurances to the card controller that prior to the purchase of the goods and/or services concerned the appropriate checks have been undertaken to ensure that:

  • a public sector contract or framework which could be used does not already exist; or
  • the supplier is not already on EASEbuy/PECOS. A list of all active suppliers is available in Saltire under the EASEbuy/PECOS pages.

Delegated Purchasing Authority

2.2 Many government business areas receive support from their local delegated purchasing officer (DPO), who have delegated purchasing authority (DPA) to undertake procurement contracts for their business area within their specified limit. The DPO is a valuable source of advice on purchasing matters, who can help to make the right buying choice for the goods and services required.

2.3 Core government staff do not need to hold DPA to be part of a card hierarchy. It is for government partners to determine whether similar arrangements regarding DPA are appropriate for their organisation.

Government collaborative contracts

2.4 Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate (SPPD), within the SG , have awarded a number of collaborative contracts - Scottish Government frameworks and contracts - on behalf of the public sector in Scotland for a broad range of goods and services. These contractsshould be used, whereverpossible.

2.5 Where doubt exists, contact the relevant contract manager within SPPD to clarify whether the goods or services that are required could be provided 'on-contract'. This extends to specific devices/ products/ services that may not be listed on a contract presently, as this does not necessarily mean it cannot be sourced from a contracted supplier.

2.6 Contract items should be raised through our purchasing systems EASEbuy or PECOS.

2.7 For general enquiries about the availability of goods or services through a contract, the Scottish Government Procurement Team are your first point of contact. Partners should contact those responsible for purchasing within their organisation for advice.

Competitive quotes

2.8 Where a contract does not exist or cannot be used, cardholders must ensure that any goods or services that are being purchased provide best value for money for public funds. Before reaching a decision to purchase:

  • Up to £1,000 – it is good practice for cardholders to obtain one quote for purchases made by telephone or in writing from the relevant supplier
  • £1,000 and above – cardholders must obtain a minimum of three written quotes from different suppliers.

Note: Any decision to purchase should be based on both quality and price.

2.9 It is the responsibility of cardholders to securely retain all relevant quotations for all purchases with ePC, within eRDM as all purchases may be subject to scrutiny.

Transaction limits

2.10 Card transaction expenditure applies to a:

  • single item transaction limit of up to a maximum of £5,000; and
  • monthly transaction limit of up to a maximum of £10,000

for the goods and services being requested. In both cases, this excludes VAT.

Increasing expenditure limits (for one off payments)

2.11 Cardholders can request an increase to one or both of these limits to meet a particular circumstance, should there be good reason to do so. A request should be made from your Director, Chief Executive or equivalent and sent via iFIX. If they do not have access to iFIX they will need to send to the ePC team mailbox via their business email account outlining the circumstances for a temporary or permanent limit increase. A temporary limit default duration is set for 14 days unless agreed and documented otherwise.

Split transactions

2.12 Cardholders must not 'split' a transaction to overcome their single item limit of £5,000 (or where their limit is set lower or higher). If a split transaction is identified, an automatic suspension will be invoked, pending investigation by the ePC Team. It will require the intervention of a Director, Deputy Director or equivalent to unlock the suspension; and only where assurance is provided that local arrangements are now sufficiently robust to avoid any further occurrence on the card(s) concerned.

2.13 If you have a combination of purchases that could appear to be a split transaction contact the ePC Team in advance to discuss and record if required, to avoid a suspension. (For example – booking multiple delegates where suppliers only take one booking per delegate for a conference).

The recharge process – Paying for your transactions

2.14 The ePC Team recover all appropriate costs from cardholders for their purchases via a comprehensive 'recharge' process on a monthly basis. Partners using ePC are required at the outset to provide financial information to enable the monthly recharge process.

Record of Expenditure

2.15 Receipts and invoices must be obtained for all transactions on your card for 3 years. In the event of an audit check you will be expected to provide receipts and or invoices within ten working days.

Publication of spend on the SG website

2.16 In line with the ministerial commitment, the government publishes a list of all transactions of £500 and over ('ePC500') on its website on a monthly retrospective basis. This is only mandated for the SG, all other partners can determine their own publication requirements.

2.17 Prior to publication, cardholders are required to review their previous month's ePC transaction activity. Those in the card hierarchy must ensure that the description input to SDoL accurately reflects what has been purchased. This may be required, for example, to respond to any Freedom of Information (FoI) or media enquiry.

2.18 The ePC Team review all ePC expenditure of £500 and over for core government spend on a monthly basis. Non-core government partners and agencies are responsible for their own publication arrangements. The published information contains the following headings:

  • Directorate – The name of the SG directorate which incurred the expenditure.
  • Merchant Name – The name of the supplier who provided the goods or services purchased. The merchant could attract the umbrella name of the company group they are part of. On rare occasions the merchant name may be redacted for reasons of security.
  • Merchant Code Description – The description applied by MasterCard to the goods/services provided. Suppliers who accept payment by ePC card are allocated a Merchant Code (MC). MC's provide a general description of the main type of goods/services that the supplier/group provides. It is not necessarily a description of an individual transaction with that supplier.
  • Transaction Date – When the expenditure occurred.
  • Transaction Amount (inclusive of VAT, where applicable) – the payment amount.
  • Expense description - a brief description of the actual goods or services purchased.


Email: epc_mailbox@gov.scot

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