GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- The days of handing cash to students of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies as a means of issuing per diem are now in the cards.
The first students to receive cash cards stand with
members of the Marshall Center resource management staff recently.
(Photo by Jason Tudor)
Debit cards, sponsored by the Treasury Financial Management Service, will take the place of money handed to students before they begin studies here. The switch from cash-and-carry to the card could save as much as $76,000 annually, according to Mary Laub, the Marshall Center’s chief of resource management.
“The debit card program streamlines disbursing operations. The cards eliminate the cash cage and the security and manpower requirements associated with it,” said Ms. Laub. “Unlike cash, lost cards can be replaced. The cards can be remotely loaded. Payments are easily tracked, reconciled and reported.”
The savings will be realized in labor, training time and student class time gained, Ms. Laub said. She added that 650 man-hours per year will also be saved. That also includes cashier time in the cage, time entering data into the disbursing system, bank visits, and time spent in maintaining the security of the disbursement operations.
Ms. Laub also noted the time saved for students “Because we can load the cards remotely, the students visit Resource Management just once -- to pick up their cards. This saves at least six student days per year and provides the opportunity for additional educational activities.”
Five students were issued cards Aug. 23 marking the first issuance.
The Marshall Center can load the card with any amount of value through the bank’s Internet site. Once issued, the card may be used at automated teller machines to make cash withdrawals, or at point-of-sale terminals to make retail purchases. The cards are also disposable and may be reloaded to issue multiple partial payments to resident students.
The next implementation phase of the debit card program begins started this month when about 130 students from the Program in Advanced Security Studies will received their cards. The cash cage will permanently cease operations at the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Ms. Laub added that the Marshall Center is the pilot for Defense Security and Cooperation Agency, and the other regional centers are expected to join the program after HQ assessment and review.
The government created this debit card program in 1998. Currently, the Departments of the Army, Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy as well as the Peace Corps use the system.