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

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

Debit card system questioned


The U.S. Treasury has consented to start thinking about employing a new merchant whenever 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 uses to supply Social Security along with other advantages to individuals who usually do not directlly deposit advantages into a banking account.

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Treasury made a decision to get fresh bids and start thinking about changing bank lovers due to issues which were first raised publicly in a study the other day by the middle for Public Integrity, relating to two different people with direct familiarity with the problem. They talked on condition of privacy in order to avoid souring their relationships with Treasury.

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

Treasury’s inspector general, its separate, internal watchdog, is probing the deal. One core concern: Treasury did not give consideration to other banking institutions whenever the compensation was added by it for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct re payments from Treasury, relating to testimony at a congressional hearing. The quantity will increase as more likely individuals sign up for Direct Express cards.

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

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

CPI unearthed that Treasury has pressured individuals to utilize Direct Express, even if it revealed them to raised costs. The report additionally detailed the Treasury’s decision to provide Comerica tens of vast amounts in payment which was maybe maybe not an element of the deal that is original.

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