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

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March 13, 2021

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

Debit card program questioned

Introduction

The U.S. Treasury has decided to start thinking about hiring a brand new vendor when 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 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 chose to get fresh bids and give consideration to changing bank lovers as a result of issues that have been first raised publicly in a written report week that is last the guts for Public Integrity, in accordance with a couple with direct familiarity with the situation. They talked on condition of privacy in order to avoid souring their relationships with Treasury.

CPI stated that Comerica won the initial deal in 2008 by providing to supply the cards free of charge to taxpayers. About couple of years later on, Treasury quietly amended the contract to include 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 think about other banks when it included the payment for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct re re payments from Treasury, based on testimony at a hearing that is congressional. The total amount will probably increase much more individuals 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 banking institutions hardly ever are placed out for competitive bidding—especially whenever a course is really 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 government places. JPMorgan was chosen to operate the system for a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the agreement, 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 make use of Direct Express, also if it exposed them to raised fees. The report also detailed the Treasury’s choice to provide Comerica tens of huge amount of money in settlement which was not area of the initial deal.

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