Minority Press

Collins, McCaskill Demand Documents From Treasury Department in Contracting Investigation

Senate Aging Committee seeks answers on Treasury contract with Comerica Bank to provide Social Security debit cards


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) this week demanded that the Treasury Department turn over documents on a contract with Comerica Bank that was issued to provide Social Security debit cards after previous requests for documents were ignored 

In a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, the Senators asked for all contracts, agreements, task orders, memoranda of understanding, subcontracts, or any similar documents relating to Comerica’s administration of the Direct Express program. The Treasury Department created the Direct Express program in response to a Congressional mandate to transition most seniors from paper checks to electronic payments—Direct Express provides seniors without bank accounts with debit cards on which they receive their Social Security benefits. A March 2014 audit undertaken by the Treasury Inspector General found that Treasury paid Comerica an extra $32.5 million for work the bank had already claimed it would do for free and that the payments “might provide Comerica with a future competitive advantage in the rebid”. This was proven true when Comerica was awarded the contract for a second time in September 2014.

“The Committee has long expressed concern regarding the manner in which (Comerica’s) original, amended, and re-bid Direct Express Contracts were awarded…The Committee’s concerns are shared by the Department of the Treasury’s Inspector General. Unfortunately, the current record suggests that Treasury has not been fully cooperative with the Committee’s efforts to obtain documents relating to the Direct Express Program,” the Senators wrote to Secretary Lew.

Many of these documents were originally requested by the Senate Special Committee on Aging in December of 2014. However, despite repeated statements that it intended to cooperate with the Committee, the agency has failed to provide the Committee any documents related to the rebidding of the contract. Additionally, Treasury has still not provided responses to questions the Committee asked in preparation for its June 2013 hearing examining the transition from paper checks to electronic payments.

“Treasury’s failure to produce these documents, some of which the Committee requested two years ago—is hindering the Committee’s ability to conduct legitimate bipartisan oversight,” the Senators wrote.

The Special Committee on Aging promotes discussions and conducts investigations on areas of special interest to older Americans.

A copy of the Senators’ letter is available online HERE.

These documents were originally requested by the Senate Special Committee on Aging in December of 2014. However, despite repeated statements that it intended to cooperate with the Committee, the agency has failed to provide the Committee any documents.

###