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

Debit card system questioned


The U.S. Treasury has consented to give consideration to employing a brand new vendor when a controversial cope with Comerica bank to issue debit cards to beneficiaries of federal programs expires in 2015.

Comerica has a contract that is exclusive issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury makes use of to provide Social Security as well as other advantages to those who usually do not directlly deposit advantages into a banking account.

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Treasury made a decision to obtain fresh bids and think about changing bank lovers due to issues which were first raised publicly in a written report week that is last the guts for Public Integrity, relating to two different people with direct understanding of the problem. They talked on condition of privacy in order to avoid souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the original deal in 2008 by providing to offer the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later, Treasury quietly amended the contract to include tens of millions in new re payments to Comerica. The financial institution had complained it was having problems profiting beneath the economic terms to which it initially agreed.

Treasury’s inspector general, its separate, interior watchdog, is probing the offer. One core concern: Treasury neglected to start thinking about other banking institutions whenever it included the settlement for Comerica. Comerica has received about $30 million in direct re payments from Treasury, based on testimony at a hearing that is congressional. The total amount will increase as more likely people join Direct Express cards.

The offer additionally attracted scrutiny through the Senate Special Committee on Aging. At final 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 rarely are positioned down for competitive bidding—especially whenever an application is really as new as Direct Express. An even more example that is typical Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on ships along with other closed federal federal government areas. JPMorgan had been chosen to perform the scheduled system on a pilot basis in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the contract, worth approximately $18 million per after routine renegotiations and one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003 year.

CPI discovered that Treasury has pressured individuals to make use of Direct Express, also if it revealed them to raised charges. The report additionally detailed the Treasury’s choice to offer Comerica tens of huge amount of money in settlement that has been perhaps not the main original deal.

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