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 system questioned


The U.S. Treasury has decided to give consideration to 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 agreement to issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury utilizes to supply Social Security as well as other advantages to individuals who usually do not directlly deposit payday loans online in Wisconsin advantages into a bank-account.

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Treasury made a decision to solicit fresh bids and give consideration to changing bank lovers as a result of concerns that have been first raised publicly in a written report a week ago by the guts for Public Integrity, relating to two different people with direct familiarity with the situation. They spoke on condition of privacy in order to avoid souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the deal that is original 2008 by providing to deliver the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About couple of years later, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to include tens of millions in 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 banking institutions whenever it included the settlement for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct 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 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 banking institutions seldom are positioned away for competitive bidding—especially whenever an application can be new as Direct Express. A far more typical instance is Navy Cash, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on vessels along with other shut federal federal government areas. JPMorgan was selected to operate the scheduled program on a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the contract, well well worth roughly $18 million per 12 months, after routine renegotiations plus one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003.

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

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