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 a contract that is exclusive issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury utilizes to supply Social Security along with other advantageous assets to individuals 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 partners due to issues that have been first raised publicly in a written report week that is last the guts for Public Integrity, relating to a couple 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 deal that is original 2008 by providing to produce the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About 2 yrs later, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to incorporate tens of millions in brand brand new re re payments to Comerica. The lender 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 neglected to think about other banking institutions whenever the compensation was added by it for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct payments from Treasury, in accordance with testimony at a congressional hearing. The quantity will likely increase as more 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 available competition.

Treasury’s special contracts with banking institutions rarely are positioned out for competitive bidding—especially whenever an application is really as new as Direct Express. A far more example that is typical Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on vessels along with other shut federal government areas. JPMorgan was chosen to operate the program on a pilot basis 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 visitors to utilize Direct Express, also if it revealed them to raised fees. The report additionally detailed the Treasury’s choice to offer Comerica tens of vast amounts in settlement which was maybe maybe not the main initial deal.

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