NACHA Presents Payments System Awards to U.S. Treasury And Cleveland Direct Payment Program

Posted April 24, 2001

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association will present the 2001 George Mitchell Payment Systems Excellence Award today to the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Direct Payment Joint Promotion Program of Cleveland, Ohio. The Department of Treasury is being recognized for its success in converting Federal payments and receipts to electronic payments. The Direct Payment Joint Promotion Program is being recognized for its success in enrolling consumers to pay their utility bills electronically via Direct Payment. The presentations will be made at NACHA's PAYMENTS 2001 conference in Washington, DC.

Donald V. Hammond, Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary, Richard L. Gregg, Commissioner of the Financial Management Service, and Van Zeck, Commissioner of the Public Debt, will receive the award on behalf of the Treasury Department.

"For decades, the U.S. Department of Treasury has been a leader in moving the country from paper to electronic payments," said Charles B. Bretz, Senior Vice President of Compass Bank and Chairman of NACHA's Marketing Management Group that administers the award. "The Federal government is the single largest user of the nation's Automated Clearing House Network, with 848 million transactions in 2000. NACHA recognizes the Treasury Department for its commitment to using electronic payments, and the benefits to the country and the taxpayers that result."

"Treasury is committed to the use of electronic payment technologies wherever possible to manage the government's transactions," said Hammond. "Electronic payments help us provide better service to all our customers as well as significant savings to both of us. We're proud of what we've accomplished, but we promise to do even more."

According to the Treasury Department, 96 percent of Federal salary payments in Fiscal Year 2000 were made by Direct Deposit. In addition, seventy-five percent of Federal benefit payments, such as Social Security and Veterans benefits, were made by Direct Deposit, and 59 percent of payments to vendors were made electronically.

On the receipts side, over 3 million businesses are now enrolled in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to remit payroll withholdings to the Internal Revenue Service. In calendar year 2000, EFTPS processed more than 63 million federal tax payments valued at over $1.5 trillion.

The issuance of Treasury securities was also converted to an electronic system. Treasury bills and bonds are transferred through the Federal Reserve's electronic book-entry system, eliminating the need to issue physical securities for new debt offerings. The Treasury Direct program allows people to purchase Treasury securities electronically from the Department, as well as establish automated investing in savings bonds.

In recent years, the Department of Treasury has implemented programs or conducted pilot programs using electronic checks, stored-value cards, smart carts, debit cards, digital certificates, and digital cash. Web sites such as pay.gov and treasurydirect.gov allow citizens to conduct business with the Treasury Department electronically.

John Good, President of the MidAmerica Automated Payments System (MAPS), Mike Taipale of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and August Bruno of Dominion Resources will receive the award on behalf of the Direct Payment program.

In 1991, seven northern Ohio utility companies agreed to work together to promote Direct Payment to their customers to pay their utility bills. MAPS and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland coordinated the program, and fifty financial institutions agreed to distribute enrollment forms. Today, more than 50 utilities and 150 financial institutions participate, and more than 800,000 customers have enrolled, converting millions of checks each year into Direct Payments. In 2000, 18 percent of enrollments were received via the program's web site -- www.directpaymentplan.com -- which was introduced in 1998.

"Direct Payment is reliable, accurate, on-time and confidential," said Bretz. "Direct Payments simplifies your life by taking the hassle out of paying your bills. At 33 cents per stamp in 2000, Americans saved over $700 million in postage alone by using Direct Payment for their bills, not to mention late fees that were avoided. NACHA commends the Direct Payment Joint Promotion Program for its success in reaching out to Clevelanders about the benefits of Direct Payments."

Each year NACHA presents the George Mitchell Payment Systems Excellence Award in recognition of individuals and organizations that have improved the nation's payments system. The award is named in honor of the late George Mitchell, former Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

About NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association
NACHA is the leading organization in developing electronic solutions to improve the payments system. NACHA represents more than 12,000 financial institutions through direct memberships and a network of regional payments associations, and 600 organizations through its six industry councils. NACHA develops operating rules and business practices for the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network and for electronic payments in the areas of Internet commerce, electronic bill payment and presentment (EBPP), financial electronic data interchange (EDI), international payments, electronic checks, and electronic benefits transfer (EBT). Visit NACHA on the Internet at www.nacha.org.

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