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

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

INFLUENCE: Treasury to open up Comerica deal to brand 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 agreement to issue Direct Express cards, which Treasury utilizes to provide Social Security as well as other advantageous assets 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 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, based on two people with direct understanding of the problem. They spoke on condition of anonymity 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 couple of years later, Treasury quietly amended the agreement to include tens of millions in brand new re payments to Comerica. The lender had complained it was having problems profiting underneath the economic terms to which it initially consented.

Treasury’s inspector general, its separate, internal watchdog, is probing the offer. One core concern: Treasury neglected to think about other banking institutions whenever it included the compensation for Comerica. Comerica has gotten about $30 million in direct re payments from Treasury, relating to testimony at a congressional hearing. The quantity will likely increase much more individuals join Direct Express cards.

The offer additionally attracted scrutiny from 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 banks hardly ever are placed out for competitive bidding—especially whenever an application can be new as Direct Express. A far more example that is typical Navy money, a method of stored-value cards and kiosks on ships along with other shut federal government areas. JPMorgan had been chosen to operate the scheduled system for a pilot foundation in 1999. The Wall Street behemoth still holds the agreement, well well worth approximately $18 million per year, after routine renegotiations plus one “re-designation” by Treasury in 2003.

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 choice to offer Comerica tens of huge amount of money in settlement which was maybe maybe not the main initial deal.

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