INFLUENCE: Treasury to open up Comerica deal to bids that are new CPI report

INFLUENCE: Treasury to open up Comerica deal to bids that are new CPI report

Debit card program questioned


The U.S. Treasury has decided to start thinking about employing a brand new vendor whenever a controversial deal with Comerica bank to issue debit cards to beneficiaries of federal programs expires in 2015.

Comerica has an exclusive agreement to issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury makes use of to provide Social Security as well as other advantageous assets to individuals who usually do not directlly deposit advantages into a banking account.

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Treasury chose to obtain fresh bids and start thinking about changing bank lovers as a result of issues that have been first raised publicly in a written report week that is last the middle for Public Integrity, relating to a couple with direct familiarity with the situation. They talked on condition of anonymity in order to avoid souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the deal that is original 2008 by providing to give you the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later on, Treasury quietly amended the contract to incorporate tens of millions in brand brand new re re payments to Comerica. The financial institution had reported it originally agreed that it was having trouble profiting under the financial terms to which.

Treasury’s inspector general, its separate, interior watchdog, is probing the offer. One core concern: Treasury did not think about other banks whenever the compensation was added by it for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct re re payments from Treasury, in accordance with testimony at a congressional hearing. The total amount will increase as more likely individuals join Direct Express cards.

The offer additionally attracted scrutiny through the Senate Special Committee on Aging. At last week’s hearing, Democrats from the committee grilled Richard Gregg, Treasury’s Fiscal Assistant Secretary, in regards to the deal’s lack of transparency and available competition.

Treasury’s special contracts with banking institutions seldom are placed away for competitive bidding—especially whenever an application can be new as Direct Express. A far more typical instance is Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on vessels along with other shut federal federal government areas. JPMorgan had been selected to operate the system on a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the agreement, well worth approximately $18 million per year, after routine renegotiations plus one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003.

CPI unearthed that Treasury has forced visitors to make use of Direct Express, also if it revealed them to raised fees. The report also detailed the Treasury’s choice to offer Comerica tens of vast amounts in payment that has been not area of the deal that is original.

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