Can an overseas cardholder purchase a gym membership for use in Mexico?
The capability to purchase a gym membership utilizing the Governmentwide commercial purchase card exists, but it may be challenging to prove the purchase is to meet an official government requirement. The cardholder must ensure the purchase adheres to the appropriate regulatory dollar thresholds and satisfies an authorized requirement. FAR 13.301(a) presents, "The card may be used only for purchases that are otherwise authorized by law or regulation." FAR 13.301(b) authorizes, "Agencies using the Governmentwide commercial purchase card shall establish procedures for use and control of the card that comply with the Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies (TFM 4-4500) and that are consistent with the terms and conditions of the current GSA credit card contract."
Open full Question Details
In this case the question, "How would the purchaser prove the gym membership was not to satisfy personal aspirations and desires?" would probably arise. Since regulation does not directly address this particular purchase, it is an excellent idea to obtain local authority and approval before purchasing with the Governmentwide commercial purchase card.
DFARS 213.301(4) directs the purchase cardholder to the “Department of Defense Government Charge Card Guidebook for Establishing and Managing Purchase, Travel, and Fuel Card Programs” at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/pdi/pc/policy_documents.html.
Paragraph A.1.2.4 - PROHIBITED PURCHASES in the guidebook directs, "CHs <sic. Cardholders> should contact local authorities (e.g., the A/OPC, local Judge Advocate General, and Financial/Resource Manager) before purchasing any items that seem questionable or may have the appearance of being inappropriate. All exceptions must be on a per-transaction basis after consultation with legal counsel, the HCA, and the Financial Manager."
This guidance to seek local authority for the purchase is prudent because paragraph 2.3.6 - DoD Charge Card Disciplinary Policy for Civilian and Military Personnel, states, "DoD charge card disciplinary policies are applicable to all DoD personnel (military or civilian). It is DoD policy that government charge card “violations” are prohibited and cases involving alleged violations must be reported to the applicable supervisor/commander and be investigated."