The Treasury Department is the executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States. In addition the the IRS, the Treasury Department is made up of several agencies and bureaus including the Bureau of Fiscal Service (BFS). In 2020, supporting multiple COVID-19 relief efforts, BFS disbursed 1.4 billion payments totaling more than $5.4 trillion – making up 89% of all Federal payments, including IRS tax refunds, Social Security and Supplemental Security (SSI) benefits, Federal salary payments and retirement benefits, Veterans benefits, and vendor payments. Additionally, BFS has issued $98.1 billion in Treasury retail securities, and redeemed $114.7 billion in Treasury securities.
- Accessing Federal benefit payments electronically
- Accessing capital and financial products to serve communities in need
Accessing Federal benefit payments electronically
The Direct Express® program issues Federal benefits through a reloadable debit card. A significant number of Federal benefit recipients do not have bank accounts and Direct Express® allows recipients to receive payments electronically.
Why this service was designated
The Direct Express® program manages 5.1 million cardholder accounts – the majority of which are held by the unbanked. The Direct Express® debit card allows cardholders to receive their monthly benefit payments electronically – eliminating the need to wait for a check in the mail, reducing the chances of non-receipt claims, or paying expensive check cashing fees. For most cardholders, this payment is their sole source of income and is essential for basic living needs such as housing, food, and medicine.
Direct Express® is safer, more convenient, and more reliable than a paper check when receiving federal benefits. Additionally, it provides consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners, including for fraud, loss, and other errors. The debit card can be used online or at any retail locations where Mastercard is accepted, or cash can be withdrawn at point-of-sale debit transactions or ATMs. The program has maintained cardholder satisfaction ratings of 92% or higher for the last 10 years.
Accessing capital and financial products to serve communities in need
The CDFI Fund serves CDFIs, community development entities (CDEs), non-profit affordable housing developers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The CDFI Fund helps customers access Federal financial assistance, tax credit authority and bond guarantees for community and economic development purposes. Services include certifying CDFI and CDE organizations eligibility for certain federal assistance programs; providing lending capital, loan loss reserves, and funding for technical assistance; awarding entities with the ability to provide tax credits to investors; and providing bond loans and guarantees for long-term projects.
Why this service was designated
Access to affordable financial products and services is a staple of economically vibrant communities. Yet at least one quarter of American households do not have a bank account or rely on costly payday lenders and check-cashing outlets. Additionally, many small businesses and critical community development projects lack access to the capital investment necessary to spark economic growth in their communities. Through its grant, tax credit and bond guarantee program, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) actively works to address these issues by investing federal resources—which are matched with private funding—into mission-driven financial institutions and community development organizations recognized for their expertise in providing service and support to low-income communities. In FY 2021 by providing nearly $1.5 billion in monetary awards and loans, committing to guarantee $100 million in bonds, and allocating $5 billion in tax credit authority.