INFLUENCE: Treasury to start Comerica deal to new bids after CPI report

Debit card system questioned


The U.S. Treasury has decided to give consideration to employing a new merchant whenever a controversial cope with Comerica bank to issue debit cards to beneficiaries of federal programs expires in 2015.

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

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Treasury made a decision to obtain fresh bids and give consideration to changing bank lovers as a result of issues which were first raised publicly in a study a week ago by the guts for Public Integrity, in accordance with two different people with direct understanding of the situation. They talked on condition of privacy in order to prevent souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the deal that is original 2008 by providing to supply the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later on, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to include tens of millions in new 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 independent, interior watchdog, is probing the offer. One core concern: Treasury neglected to give consideration to other banks when the compensation was added by it for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct re payments from Treasury, in accordance with testimony at a congressional hearing. The quantity will increase as more likely individuals join 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 competition that is open.

Treasury’s special contracts with banks hardly ever are placed down for competitive bidding—especially whenever a course is really as new as Direct Express. An even more typical instance is Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on vessels as well as other shut federal federal government places. JPMorgan was selected to operate the scheduled program on a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the contract, well worth approximately $18 million per 12 months, after routine renegotiations plus one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003.

CPI discovered that Treasury has forced individuals to utilize Direct Express, also them to higher fees if it exposed. The report additionally detailed the Treasury’s choice to provide Comerica tens of vast amounts in payment that has been maybe not area of the initial deal.

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