Government Purchase Card (GPC)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is a micro-purchase?
  2. What are the micro-purchase thresholds?
  3. I need to purchase supplies exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, can I split the purchase?
  4. I need to purchase some personal items for my home. Can I use the GPC to make the purchases and then pay the bank with a money order or my personal check?
  5. Can A/OPCs issue contractors GPCs?
  6. Can I use Pay Pal for purchases?
  7. Can a GPC cardholder purchase seasonal decorations and Christmas cards?
  8. Can a GPC cardholder purchase flowers for ceremonies?
  9. Can I purchase kitchen appliances for the office with my GPC?
  10. Can I purchase bottled water with my GPC?
  11. I ordered some supplies and a $25.00 gift certificate was attached to the invoice. There is no name on the gift certificate.  Can I use this gift certificate for my personal use?
  12. When must Delegation of Authority Letters be re-issued?
  13. What should I do if my credit card is lost or stolen?
  14. What is a split purchase?
  15. I am required to pay state tax on GPC purchases?
  16. Our office allows “dress down” Fridays and we would like to purchase polo shirts with our office symbol imprinted on the shirts for everyone to wear on Fridays. Can I use the GPC to make the purchase?
  17. Can I purchase protective clothing and safety shoes with the GPC?
  18. Can I purchase from merchants charging a surcharge/checkout fee to use the GPC?
  19. Can one individual perform more than one GPC function, (e.g., Agency/Organization Program Coordinator; Approving/Billing Official or Cardholder?
  20. Can being a GPC Cardholder (CH) affect my personal credit rating?
  21. There are non-government websites with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the GPC Program. Can I use these sites to search for GPC answers?
  22. The merchant only accepts cash. Can I get a cash advance with my credit card to pay for the purchase?
  23. Can the GPC be used for funeral details or other group travel?
  24. We have personnel who take the Metro for official government meetings. Can I use the GPC to purchase Metro fare passes for these personnel?
  25. I need to dispute a charge on my billing statement from last month. Can I still file a dispute?
  26. Can the GPC be used to purchase ammunition or explosives?
  27. What triggers the PCOLS Auto-Cancellation of Card Holder Accounts?
  28. Which GPC personnel must take the Certifying Officer’s Legislation (COL) training required by DoD Charge Card Guidebook paragraph A.1.1.3 and FMR Volume 5 Chapter 5, paragraph 050304?
  29. Where can I find GPC Certifying Officer’s Legislation (COL) training?
  30. Is there an electronic capability to process and store Certifying Officer DD Form 577, “Appointment/Termination Record—Authorized Signature”.
  1. What is a micro-purchase?

    Answer:  Micro-purchase is an acquisition of supplies or services using simplified acquisition procedures, the aggregate (total) amount of which does not exceed the micro-purchase threshold.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 2.101 and the DoD Charge Card Guidebook

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  2. What are the micro-purchase thresholds?

    Answer:  “Micro-purchase threshold” means $3,500, except it means—

    (1) For acquisitions of construction subject to 40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV, Wage Rate Requirements (Construction), $2,000;

    (2) For acquisitions of services subject to 41 U.S.C. chapter 67, Service Contract Labor Standards, $2,500; and

    (3) For acquisitions of supplies or services that, as determined by the head of the agency, are to be used to support a contingency operation or to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack as described in 13.201(g) (1), except for construction subject to 40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV, Wage Rate Requirements (Construction) (41 U.S.C. 1903)--

    1. $20,000 in the case of any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase to be made, inside the United States; and

    2. $30,000 in the case of any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase to be made outside the United States.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 2.101 – Definitions

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  3. I need to purchase supplies exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, can I split the purchase?

    Answer:  No, if the cardholder has a requirement exceeding the micro-purchase thresholds the requirement must be sent to the appropriate contracting office for action.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 2.101 and the DoD Charge Card Guidebook

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  4. I need to purchase some personal items for my home. Can I use the GPC to make the purchases and then pay the bank with a money order or my personal check?

    Answer:  No, the GPC is only for official government purchases and shall not be used for personal purchases.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the DoD Charge Card Guidebook

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  5. Can A/OPCs issue contractors GPCs?

    Answer:  No, A/OPCs shall not issue GPCs to contractors.

    However, the General Service Administration (GSA) Contracting Officer for SmartPay may issue credit cards for use with GSA sources of supply or services to contractors with cost-reimbursable contracts. The contractor must receive written authorization from the contracting officer responsible for their cost reimbursable contract authorizing the contractor to use GSA sources of supply or services. The contractor is responsible to submit a copy of the written authorization and a Request for Eligibility Determination to the GSA SmartPay Contracting Officer before GSA will issue a SmartPay credit card to the contractor.

    Reference:  General Service Administration (GSA) website:
    http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100000

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  6. Can I use Pay Pal for purchases?

    Answer:  Caution- Third-Party-Payment Merchants (e.g., PayPal) are considered high-risk transactions for both audits and data mining screening.

    Where it is identified that the purchase will be processed via a third-party merchant, the cardholder should make every attempt to find a GPC accepting merchant/vendor from which to procure the goods or services. If it is still found necessary to procure using a third-party-payment merchant, the Approving/Billing Official must ensure there is adequate supporting documentation showing that there was a detailed review of the purchase and that the use of the third-party-payment merchant was unavoidable.

    Note: Third-Party-Payments mask the actual merchant/vendor and payments could be made to possible counterfeit operations and other questionable merchants/vendors while losing valuable reports to provide the Government with statistics on merchants/vendors being paid with the GPC.

    Reference:  OUSD/AT&L/DPAP/PDI Policy Memorandum “Use of Third Party Payments—Policy Change” dated 10/17/2007

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  7. Can a GPC cardholder purchase seasonal decorations and Christmas cards?

    Answer:  Check your Service/Agency Policy.

    In 1987, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) overruled 52 Comp. Gen. 504, concluding that the rules for office decorations should be the same whether the decorations are seasonal or permanent. 67 Comp. Gen. 87 (1987). Thus, seasonal decorations are now permissible "where the purchase is consistent with work-related objectives [such as enhancement of morale], agency or other applicable regulations, and the agency mission, and is not primarily for the personal convenience or satisfaction of a government employee." Id. at 88. See also B-226781, Jan. 11, 1988. The rationale of 67 Comp. Gen. 87 does not apply to Christmas cards, which remain “basically individual good will gestures and are not part of a general effort to improve the work environment." Id. See also B-247563.4, Dec. 11, 1996.

    Reference:  http://www.gao.gov/atext/d04261sp.txt

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  8. Can a GPC cardholder purchase flowers for ceremonies?

    Answer:  Check your Service/Agency Policy.  Is the ceremony a traditional ground breaking expense or a dedication for the laying of a cornerstone in public buildings?

    For example, in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) B-158831, June 8, 1966, the cost of flowers used as centerpieces at a dedication ceremony was held to be a proper expenditure. See also B-247563.4, Dec. 11, 1996 (floral centerpiece for use at awards ceremony). Similarly, the cost of engraving and chrome-plating a ceremonial shovel used in a groundbreaking ceremony was viewed as a necessary expense of the ceremony. 53 Comp. Gen. 119 (1973). In the cited decision, however, the voucher could not be paid because there was no evidence as to who authorized the work, where the shovel originated, the subsequent use to be made of the shovel, and why there was a year's delay between the ceremony and the engraving.

    Agencies should develop policy in alignment with the GAO Decision to ensure uniformity in the use of appropriations to purchase flowers, groundbreaking shovels, etc. for Traditional Ceremonies and Dedications.

    Note:  These items remain the property of the Government and may not be given away as gifts or door prizes.

    Reference:  Government Accountability Office (GAO) B-158831 and B-247563

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  9. Can I purchase kitchen appliances for the office with my GPC?

    Answer:  Check your agency policy.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-302993, dated June 25, 2004 stated that agencies should develop an agency policy to ensure uniformity in the use of appropriations to acquire kitchen appliances and determine the usefulness of appliances such as these in light of operational benefits, such as employee health and productivity, and the responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

    Reference:  http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/302993.htm

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  10. Can I purchase bottled water with my GPC?

    Answer:  a)  Is there potable (drinkable) water located in the building? If no, then the GPC may be used to purchase bottled water.

    b)  Has an official water test been performed by the appropriate health officials and the published report(s) indicate the potable (drinkable) water in the building is not for human consumption? If yes, then the GPC may be used to purchase bottled water.

    Reference:  Government Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-247871, April 10, 1992

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  11. I ordered some supplies and a $25.00 gift certificate was attached to the invoice. There is no name on the gift certificate. Can I use this gift certificate for my personal use?

    Answer:  No, U.S. Government funds paid for the supply and any gift certificates, items, rebates, etc. are the property of the U. S. Government and cardholders should check their Service/Agency policy on the appropriate process for these items.

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  12. When must Delegation of Authority Letters be re-issued?

    Answer:  Delegation of Authority Letters shall be re-issued when there is a change to any part of the Delegation of Authority Letter; e.g. name change, single purchase and monthly limits (even if the change is for one purchase/payment); monthly limits, etc.  No pen and ink changes are allowed.  The Delegation of Authority Letter is a binding authorization and requires an original acknowledgement signature and date from the individual being issued the delegation of authority; and pen and ink changes are not acceptable for any reason.  Any changes require re-issuance of the Delegation of Authority Letter.

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  13. What should I do if my credit card is lost or stolen?

    Answer:  Immediately notify the issuing bank and notify your Approving/Billing Official (A/BO) and Agency/Organization Program Coordinator within three working days.

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  14. What is a split purchase?

    Answer:  A split purchase is the “intentional” breaking down of a known requirement to stay within the cardholder’s single purchase limit to avoid sending the requirement to the contracting office for award. Split purchases include: splitting requirements among merchants; splitting requirements among cardholders and splitting requirements over several days. Approving/Billing Officials and Cardholders should contact the contracting office when they identify repetitive requirements for supplies, services or construction requirements increasing to levels that will surpass the CHs single purchase threshold. The contracting office may establish Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) or other contracting instruments that will allow the CH to place orders at a higher level than the micro-purchase thresholds to avoid splitting requirements while negotiating better pricing and delivery for the best interest of the Government.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Parts 2.101, 13.2 and 13.3

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  15. I am required to pay state tax on GPC purchases?

    Answer:  Check the state tax information listed on the General Service Administration (GSA) website:

    https://smartpay.gsa.gov/about-gsa-smartpay/tax-information/state-response-letter

    To check if the GPC purchase is tax exempt from the state of the purchase.

    Example of new website information:

    Kentucky

    Am I tax exempt in this state?

    IBA/ Travel Card - No

    CBA/ Purchase Card - Yes, CBA cards are exempt.

    The General Service Administration (GSA) Office of Charge Card Management confirmed that GPC credit card accounts are considered Centrally Billed Accounts (CBAs).

    Reference:  General Service Administration (GSA) website :
    https://smartpay.gsa.gov/about-gsa-smartpay/tax-information/state-response-letter

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  16. Our office allows “dress down” Fridays and we would like to purchase polo shirts with our office symbol imprinted on the shirts for everyone to wear on Fridays. Can I use the GPC to make the purchase?

    Answer:  No.  This type of clothing is not required by law or regulation. The General Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-289683 considers clothing to be a personal expense of the employee, and appropriated funds are not generally available for personal expenses. Every employee of the Government is required to present themselves for duty properly attired according to the requirements of their position.

    Note: Clothing required by law or regulation is generally provided to the employee by a clothing allowance.

    Reference:  General Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-289683

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  17. Can I purchase protective clothing and safety shoes with the GPC?

    Answer:  Check your Service/Agency policy.  Protective clothing, safety shoes, etc. is generally provided through a clothing allowance to the employee.  All approvals for protective clothing, safety shoes, etc. require approvals from the appropriate safety officer and Resource Manager.

    The Government may provide protective clothing (General Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-289683) if the agency determines that it is necessary under OSHA and its implementing regulations.

    Reference:  General Accountability Office (GAO) Decision B-289683

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  18. Can I purchase from merchants charging a surcharge/checkout fee to use the GPC?

    Answer:  It depends upon where the merchant is located.

    If the merchant is located within a U.S. State or U.S. Territories permitting merchants to impose a surcharge/checkout fee for charge/credit card purchases, then the cardholder may process the purchase with the fee based upon the following information or consider a merchant who does not charge a surcharge/checkout fee.

    Merchants are required to notify cardholders in advance of making a purchase if a surcharge/checkout fee applies and the merchant must include the fee on any receipt provided to the cardholder.

    Cardholders shall ensure:

    -   Total amount of the purchase plus the surcharge/checkout fee DOES NOT exceed the cardholder’s single purchase limit.
    -   The price is considered fair and reasonable with the surcharge/checkout fee.
    -   Surcharge/checkout fees are not imposed by merchants within the following U.S. States not permitting the fees: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

    Reference:

    GSA SmartPay Bulletin

    https://www.uscg.mil/psc/bops/govtrvl/job_aides/GSA-SP-SmartBulletin-Surcharges.pdf

    VISA

    https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/download/merchants/surcharging-faq-by-merchants.pdf

    MasterCard

    https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/merchants/get-support/merchant-surcharge-rules.html

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  19. Can one individual perform more than one GPC function, (e.g., Agency/Organization Program Coordinator; Approving/Billing Official or Cardholder?

    Answer: Separation of duties is key to the success of the GPC Program. Duties such as making purchases, authorizing payments, certification of funding, reviewing and auditing functions will be assigned to different individuals to minimize the risk of loss to the Government to the greatest extent possible. If a Cardholder is also an Accountable Property Officer, they should not be allowed to make purchases for themselves.

    • A/OPCs shall not be an A/BO or CH; or act on behalf of an A/BO or CH under their level(s) of oversight and management.
    • A/BOs shall not be a CH under their Prime A/BO or Alternate A/BO accounts.
    • CHs shall not be an A/BO over their credit card accounts.
    • Prime A/BOs may function as an Alternate A/BO under another Prime A/BO if they are not a CH under the Prime A/BO account.

    Reference:  Financial Management Regulation (FMR) website:
    www.dtic.mil/comptroller/fmr.

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  20. Can being a GPC Cardholder (CH) affect my personal credit rating?

    Answer:  No, the GPC purchases are paid by the Government and not the individual Cardholders (CHs).

    The General Service Administration (GSA) SmartPay 2 master contract prohibits the release of personal or confidential information to credit bureaus.

    Reference:  The General Service Administration (GSA) SmartPay 2 master contract; and update to the DoD Charge Card Guidebook.

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  21. There are non-government websites with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the GPC Program. Can I use these sites to search for GPC answers?

    Answer:  No, non-government websites, blogs, newspapers, magazine articles, TV/radio reports, etc. are not official guidance for the GPC Program. The Department of Defense Approving/Billing Officials and Cardholders may use the Defense Procurement Acquisition Policy (DPAP) website; individual Service/Agency websites; and contacting the Agency/Organization Program Coordinator responsible for the oversight of their GPC accounts for official answers to their GPC questions.

    Reference:  Defense Procurement Acquisition Policy (DPAP) www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/

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  22. The merchant only accepts cash. Can I get a cash advance with my credit card to pay for the purchase?

    Answer:  No, cash advances are prohibited.

    Reference:  DoD Charge Card Guidebook.

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  23. Can the GPC be used for funeral details or other group travel?

    Answer:  No, the GPC shall not be used to pay for travel related expenses.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.101 micro-purchase definition; and DoD Charge Card Guidebook

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  24. We have personnel who take the Metro for official government meetings. Can I use the GPC to purchase Metro fare passes for these personnel?

    Answer:  No, travel related expenses are not authorized with the GPC.

    Reference:  Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.101 micro-purchase definition; and DoD Charge Card Guidebook

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  25. I need to dispute a charge on my billing statement from last month. Can I still file a dispute?

    Answer:  The Cardholder (CH) has 60 calendar days from the date of the billing statement to dispute a transaction.

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  26. Can the GPC be used to purchase ammunition or explosives?

    Answer:  No.  Ammunition and explosives are prohibited purchases with the GPC.

    Ammunition and explosives are controlled items to be obtained through the Government supply system.

    In the event a written waiver is granted by the supply manager of ammunition or explosives for local purchase, the requirement shall be processed through the contracting office for an appropriate contract with specific contract clauses and incorporation of specific safety manuals for ammunition and explosives.

    References:  DFARS 223.370-3 Policy. (b) This policy is implemented by DoD 4145.26-M, DoD Contractors' Safety Manual for Ammunition and Explosives

    PGI 223.370 Safety precautions for ammunition and explosives.

    DFARS 252.223-7002, Safety Precautions for Ammunition and Explosives, requires the contractor to notify the contracting officer when placing a subcontract for ammunition and explosives.

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  27. What triggers the PCOLS Auto-Cancellation of Card Holder Accounts?

    Answer:  PCOLS Card Holder Auto-Cancellation is based on information reported to PCOLS from DEERS about an individual’s CAC status. If a CAC is terminated and reissued due to a change in an individual’s Service/Agency or a change to their Personnel Category (e.g., Active Duty to Civilian) then the Cardholder account and will be automatically cancelled by the system and the user’s system access will be terminated (i.e., they will be automatically un-provisioned).

    • Individuals who inadvertently allow their CAC to expire will also be subject to Card Holder Account Auto-Cancellation and system access termination.
    • Individuals who renew their CACs prior to expiration will not be affected by auto-Cancellation.

    The following SF-50 actions will automatically initiate a PCOLS workflow for review of the card account status or the user’s PCOLS access for approval by their GPC hierarchy; these actions will NOT result in automatic cancellation of the account or termination of system access:
    130      Transfer
    132      Mass Transfer
    145      Transfer - Senior executive service career
    147      Transfer - Senior executive service noncareer
    452      Suspension - indefinite
    611      Reassignment not to exceed (date)
    613      Termination of reassignment not to exceed (date)
    721      Reassignment
    730      Detail not-to-exceed (date)
    732      Termination of detail not-to-exceed (date)
    740      Position Change
    741      Position change not-to-exceed (date)
    792      Change in Duty Station
    921      Reassignment not to exceed (date)
    922      Termination of reassignment not to exceed (date)

    References:  For additional details, please review the below listed AIM Release Notices which can be found on the DAU Community of Practice web site (https://acc.dau.mil/pcols)

    • AIM 3.3 Release Notice
    • AIM 3.6 Release Notice
    • Automatic Removal of PCOLS Users
    • PCOLS System Identification of Separation and Transfers

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  28. Which GPC personnel must take the Certifying Officer’s Legislation (COL) training required by DoD Charge Card Guidebook paragraph A.1.1.3 and FMR Volume 5 Chapter 5, paragraph 050304?

    Answer:  This training is required for all individuals appointed as Certifying Officers. Certifying Officers must complete COL training within two weeks of appointment and before actually performing their GPC duties. All Certifying Officers must be appointed on a DD Form 577, “Appointment/Termination Record—Authorized Signature”. Detailed procedures for appointing Certifying Officers are specified in Component procedures.

    Along with their appointment letters, all CHs and A/BOs not acting as Certifying Officers must be appointed as Departmental Accountable Officials (DAOs) on a DD Form 577 (see DoD Charge Card Guidebook paragraph A.1.1.3). Detailed procedures for appointing DAOs are specified in Component procedures. Because DAOs may be held financially liable for their actions, it is strongly suggested they also take a COL course. It is recommended that supervisors of these individuals also take the course to ensure they can perform necessary oversight of their employees.

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  29. Where can I find GPC Certifying Officer’s Legislation (COL) training?

    Answer:  As of May 2015 "Certifying Officer’s Legislation (COL) for Purchase Card Training" (CLG 006) is available on the DAU website at:

    Because this course specifically addresses GPC content, Certifying Officers who have previously completed an alternate authorized COL training module are encouraged to take DAU CLG 006 as soon as practicable. However, current Certifying Officers are not required to take CLG 006 or an alternate approved course until their annual refresher training is required. As individual Defense Components may require completion of alternate or additional course materials, please consult Component procedures to ensure compliance.

    DoD’s Purchase Card On Line System (PCOLS) is also being enhanced to automatically record individuals’ CLG 006 training completion data and send training reminder emails to each individual as their annual training requirement date approaches. This functionality is planned for release in August 2015.

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  30. Is there an electronic capability to process and store Certifying Officer DD Form 577, “Appointment/Termination Record—Authorized Signature”.

    Answer:  Yes. In May 2015 the DoD Purchase Card On Line System (PCOLS) was enhanced to support electronic processing and storage of Certifying Officer DD Form 577s. Additional information about this functionality can be found in the AIM Release Notices page - Release AIM 4.0 Release Notice 052815.

    All DAO DD Form 577 appointments (required for Cardholders and A/BOs who are not designated as Certifying Officers), and DD Form 577 Certifying Officer appointments at Components that process paper-based payments, must still be manually processed for approval and stored in accordance with Component procedures.

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