A new report by New Jersey’s top watchdog finds state agencies are improperly using state-issued credit cards, spending taxpayer money without following regulations designed to make sure the purchases are transparent and appropriate.

According to acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh, an audit was done of purchases made by the Department of Human Services, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Environmental Protection. Almost a third of the purchases were documented incorrectly.

“In too many instances, the checks and balances that are there to ensure that there isn’t waste and misuse and fraud weren’t followed,” he said.

Walsh explained when employees of state agencies use purchasing cards, known as P-Cards, to make transactions, “the person who authorizes the expenditure isn’t supposed to also on the back end, approve it."

“For larger purchases, they’re required to get quotations to ensure that they’re getting a good price, and certain documentation is required so there can be an evaluation to see of the purchases were appropriate," he said.

The report did not find fraud but that's not the point.

“We didn’t find fire, we didn’t even necessarily even find smoke. We just found there are too many flammable materials lying around, in effect," Walsh said.

The P-Card program was developed in 1998 for state agencies to easily purchase goods and services. Agencies are responsible for establishing internal controls to ensure compliance with Department of Treasury guidelines and prevent misuse.

Walsh said all three departments sited in the report agreed with the findings and indicated they will address the shortcomings identified.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com