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Procurement and procurement cards

HSE purchasing is open and competitive. When purchasing on behalf of the HSE you must follow the NFR1 Purchase to Pay (PDF, 1.4MB, 133 pages) process.

As a budget holder, you must have documented purchasing guidelines in place for your department.

There are four elements to each purchasing transaction:

  1. Identification and notification of need
  2. Confirmation of availability of funds and approval to spend
  3. Sourcing of suppliers to provide goods and services
  4. Expenditure approval and issue of purchase order

Identification and notification of need

When you identify the need to buy goods or services, you must ensure:

  • the need is genuine and appropriate to your service
  • you are aware of the cost of the item and whether there is available budget
  • existing goods or services already available to the service are considered
  • policy constraints for the service are taken into account

You must document the request to buy the goods or services for audit trail purposes.

Confirmation of availability of funds and approval to spend

Your local purchasing arrangements must set out who can approve expenditure.

Get confirmation of funding available and approval to spend before issuing a purchase order or contract.

Keep a record of the approval for audit trail purposes.

Sourcing of suppliers

There are a number of options to consider when sourcing a supplier:

  1. Can the product be requisitioned from stock in stores or from the National Distribution Centre
  2. If the product is not in stock, or if it is a service you require, are there national or regional contracts already agreed which you can use
  3. If the product is not already in stock, or if an agreed contract is not already in place, follow the tendering process set out in NFR1 Purchase to Pay

If the purchase value exceeds €25,000, you must submit a procurement support request to the HSE procurement department.

Expenditure approval and issue of purchase order

When you source a supplier, you must get the expenditure approved and formally request the supplier to provide the goods or services. This is normally done through a purchase order.

NFR1 Purchase to Pay sets out expenditure approval levels based on a hierarchy of grades. When you approve a purchase order, you are confirming that the purchase to pay steps have been followed.

NFR1 Purchase to Pay (PDF, 1.4MB, 133 pages)

Receiving and invoice payment process

Receiving involves checking the goods and services received, confirming they are fit for purpose, and match what was ordered. You can then give approval for payment on receipt of an invoice. Before paying, check that the invoice price matches the purchase order price. You should have procedures in place to ensure the invoice is only paid once.

Budget holders should ensure invoices are received promptly and contain the information needed to get paid on time. This ensures you comply with prompt payment legislation.

Segregation of duties

Segregation of duties requires more than one member of staff to participate in the procurement process. This eliminates one person having sole control, ensuring appropriate oversight and helping to prevent fraud, theft and error.

Segregation of duties must be in place when you raise a purchase order and when recording receipt of the goods or services ordered.

Procurement cards, credit cards and fuel cards

A procurement card is a type of charge card that allows you to procure goods and services.

Procurement cards

  • Procurement cards are issued in the name of the employee approved to use the card
  • Cards will not be issued in the name of the unit or location where the employee is located
  • Cards are for the individual employee’s use only and not transferrable
  • Monthly card limits and transaction limits are set out when the card is first received
  • Card holders can only hold one card at any time
  • Cards are normally used for low value purchases, as an alternative to petty cash and low value purchase orders

Procurement card application process

  • Procurement card application form, decision form and cardholder agreement form completed in full for individual employees (see sample procurement form)
  • Mandatory training on using and managing procurement cards to be completed before the card is issued. The training is available on HSeLanD. Evidence of completion of the training to be held on file.

Procurement card expenditure

  • Should be appropriate to the service the procurement card is issued to
  • Value for money should be achieved at all times
  • Purchases must not be for personal use
  • Cash withdrawals or cashback transactions are not allowed, unless authorised by management
  • No split transactions to avoid unauthorised transaction limits
  • No hospitality, entertainment or internet purchases, unless internet purchases have been pre-approved
  • Should not be used to clear credit accounts for any service
  • Should not be used to avoid the purchase procedures under NFR1 Purchase to Pay
  • All expenditure must be supported by backup documentation

Card holders monthly expenditure logs

  • You must record all transactions on the monthly expenditure log (see sample monthly expenditure log)
  • Receipts and other valid expenditure-supporting documentation must be included
  • Before submitting the monthly expenditure log to your line manager you must ensure the log is:
    • completed in full
    • checked for accuracy and any errors rectified immediately
    • reconciled to receipts and any other supporting documentation, ensuring no charges for items that were not ordered or received
    • signed and dated by you as reconciled, accurate and complete

Cardholder responsibilities

  • Safekeeping of the card, including the PIN and signing the back of the card
  • Reporting a stolen card immediately so it can be cancelled
  • Monthly expenditure log is completed in full and accurately
  • Receipts for purchases match the transactions on the card statement and the statement is reconciled to the monthly expenditure log
  • Each item purchased is an eligible expense
  • Goods are received in full and to resolve with suppliers any delivery problems, discrepancies or claims for damaged goods
  • For goods that need to be returned, coordinate the returns directly with the supplier and secure the appropriate credit. Ask the supplier to issue a credit transaction slip to verify that credit was given. You must attach this transaction slip to your monthly statement as supporting documentation
  • Return your procurement card to your line manager if you are leaving your existing role

Line manager responsibilities

As a manager, you should have procedures for monitoring the annual overall spend on procurement cards.

Monitoring should include:

  • number of procurement cards in use and their locations
  • average transaction amount
  • incidences of high value transactions and any inappropriate or fraudulent use

You should review expenditure to ensure procurement cards are not used to avoid NFR1 Purchase to Pay procedures and the card is only used to buy allowable items.

Ensure monthly expenditure logs are fully completed and include backup documentation.

You should document a process for cancelling cards, ensuring an audit trail is maintained and no card transactions occur after cancellation.

Fuel cards

Fuel cards are cards or fobs used to buy fuel or vehicle washes for the vehicle they are assigned to.

You must:

  • verify purchases with receipts and keep the receipts for reconciliation to monthly statements
  • use the card to buy fuel for the vehicle assigned to the card only and under no circumstances use it for a non-HSE vehicle
  • return any replaced or expired cards or fobs to your line manager
  • notify any lost cards or fobs to your line manager immediately for cancellation and investigation

Cardholder responsibilities

  • Ensuring the fuel card is only used for the assigned HSE vehicle
  • Record the vehicle registration number and the exact odometer reading for each transaction
  • Verify fuel card purchases with a receipt and check receipt before leaving the facility
  • Keep fuel cards secure and report a lost card immediately to your line manager

Line manager responsibilities

  • Strictly monitor fuel cards that you issue to your staff
  • Check and verify receipts for accuracy and completeness on a monthly basis
  • Verify and reconcile receipts for transactions showing in the card's monthly statements
  • Investigate unusual transactions
  • Submit reconciled monthly statements for processing
  • Dispose of expired cards
  • Cancel lost cards immediately and investigate

Credit cards

HSE credit cards are generally only used by members of the HSE leadership team. The card is used for expenses incurred by or on behalf of the leadership team.

Credit card applications must be approved by the CFO and CEO of the HSE.

NFR10 Management of credit cards, procurement cards, fuel cards (PDF, 200KB, 26 pages)

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2021
Next review due: 04/10/2024