Critics railed on the Obama administration's Cash for Clunkers program in mid-2009, knocking the plan to stimulate the auto industry by subsidizing new car sales at a nearly $3 billion cost to taxpayers. What few dispute, however, is that the Car Allowance Rebate System itself ran smoothly.
The North American Global Transaction Services of Citigroup, under the direction of managing director Julie Monaco since 2007, spearheaded the review process of more than 529,000 claims — about 8,300 a day — involving $2.88 billion in rebates submitted over a two-month period.
Monaco and her team last year had just completed building out international supplier chain finance operations for the government's auto industry bailout when a new request came. The Treasury Department asked the company to put together a platform for processing Cash for Clunkers claims.
Citi Global Transaction Services had only four days notice on the project. "There was a lot of sense of urgency from the U.S. government...of wanting these stimulus packages to happen yesterday," says Monaco.
Her team rose to the challenge by inventively adapting its complex passport processing system for the State Department. The process of routing and processing the rebate applications involved collecting the unique licensing and title data from all 50 states. Each state also had widely varying procedures that the Global Transaction Servies unit had to follow to certify that old cars were scrapped, anotherrequirement of the government rebate program.
On top of all that, the unit had to monitor for fraud and for applications that had ineligible vehicles or buyers. "I think we added a lot of value to that [program] because of our experience in managing complex data sources," says Monaco.