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    Are cardholders authorized to include a tip for catered meals paid for with federal funds through the Gov't Purchase Card?


    The Government Purchase Card (GPC) Program (also known as the GSA SmartPay Program) provides charge cards to agencies/departments throughout the U.S. Government. The GPC Program is intended to streamline the small purchase and payment process, minimize paperwork, eliminate imprest fund transactions, and generally simplify the administrative effort associated with procuring goods and services under the micro-purchase threshold.
    Please note:  Each organization has specific policies and procedures on use of the card, eligible purchases, receipt of purchased items, and payment.
    We reviewed the Department of Defense Government Charge Card Guidebook dated 1 October 2017 to answer your question, Appendix A, paragraph A.1.1.4(I).  I could find no prohibition in applying a tip to the refreshments expenses in the Guidebook.  Please seek additional
    I.  Food and Meals. Generally, use of the GPC to purchase food and meals is prohibited. However, if an agency determines that a reception/training with “light” refreshments (no meals), as provided in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Personnel Manual, would materially enhance the effectiveness of an awards ceremony/training conducted under authority of the Government Employees’ Incentive Awards Act (see note below), the cost of those refreshments may be considered a necessary expense for the purposes of the Act. Written coordination with local legal counsel and the Finan- cial/Resource Manager is required prior to purchase of any such refreshments. Additional information regarding acceptable food purchases is available on the GAO website at
    Appropriations Law:
    Training:  Food may be provided to an agency employee, even if the individual is not on travel away from his or her duty station, if the employee is participating in a training program so long as the agency determines that the provision of food is necessary for the employee to obtain the full benefit of the program (i.e., the training program is ongoing while food is being served and consumed and there are substantial functions occurring beyond just when food is being served and consumed). 5 U.S.C. § 4109; e.g., 50 Comp. Gen. 610 (1971).
    We could not find a prohibition against applying a tip to the purchase of the refreshments in the DoD Guidebook or DoD Appropriations Law, please consult your Agency Government Charge Card Guidebook for additional guidance.
    Note: See 5 U.S.C. 4501-5606.

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