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

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

Debit card system questioned


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

Comerica has an exclusive contract to issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury utilizes to produce Social Security along with other advantages to those who usually do not directlly deposit advantages into a banking account.

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Treasury chose to obtain fresh bids and think about changing bank lovers due to issues that have been first raised publicly in a written report week that is last the middle for Public Integrity, based on a couple with direct understanding of the problem. They talked on condition of anonymity 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 at no cost to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later on, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to incorporate tens of millions in new re payments to Comerica. The lender had reported that it was having problems profiting beneath the economic terms to which it initially consented.

Treasury’s inspector general, its independent, interior watchdog, is probing the offer. One core concern: Treasury neglected to give consideration to other banks whenever 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 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 hardly ever are placed down for competitive bidding—especially whenever a course 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 closed government areas. JPMorgan was chosen to operate the system on a pilot basis in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the agreement, worth roughly $18 million per after routine renegotiations and one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003 year.

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

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