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

Debit card system questioned


The U.S. Treasury has decided to think 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 posseses an exclusive agreement to issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury makes use of to provide Social Security along with other advantages to those who usually do not directlly deposit advantages into a banking account.

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Treasury made a decision to get fresh bids and think about changing bank lovers as a result of issues that have been first raised publicly in a study the other day by the middle for Public Integrity, based on two different people with direct familiarity with the situation. They talked on condition of anonymity in order to prevent souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the initial deal in 2008 by providing to produce the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later on, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to incorporate tens of millions in new 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 start thinking about other banking institutions whenever it included the payment for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct payments from Treasury, relating to testimony at a congressional hearing. 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 competition that is open.

Treasury’s special contracts with banks hardly ever are positioned away for competitive bidding—especially whenever a course can be as new as Direct Express. An even more example that is typical Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on vessels along with other shut federal government places. JPMorgan was chosen to perform the system on a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the agreement, well worth roughly $18 million per after routine renegotiations and one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003 year.

CPI unearthed that Treasury has forced visitors to make use of 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 payment that has been maybe perhaps not the main deal that is original.

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