In a letter sent Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Treasury how the deal can protect taxpayers from fraud and conflicts of interest, given that it was awarded without the competitive bidding and transparency required for most federal contracts.
Competitive bidding is “meant to give taxpayers the most bang for the buck,” Grassley said in a statement to the Center for Public Integrity. “Any time the government avoids competitive bidding, the practice needs exploration.”
The Center first reported Thursday that Bank of America has been paid at least $76.3 million dollars to manage inmates’ accounts and oversee e-messaging and phone services inside the 121 facilities managed by the Bureau of Prisons, which house more than 214,000 prisoners.
The deal has been amended 22 times since it was awarded in 2000. Treasury granted it under a 150-year-old authority that allows the agency to sidestep the oversight, transparency and competition typically required for federal contracting. The contracts are known as financial agency agreements.