California Department of Transportation
 
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Clark Paulsen, Division Chief

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is EFT and can everyone participate?
  2. What types of Caltrans disbursed payments are made via electronic funds transfer (EFT)?
  3. What is the driving force behind Caltrans use of the EFT process?
  4. What are the benefits of EFT?
  5. Where or whom can I call for information related to EFT payments? Whom do I contact for information related to enrollment, late payment, or to update my EFT account?
  6. How do I enroll in the EFT program?
  7. Will Caltrans make one-time payments to a vendor through EFT?
  8. Why has vendor participation in EFT been growing at such a slow rate?
  9. How will Caltrans know if the vendor's financial institution's routing and transit information is established?
  10. Is the EFT process confidential?
  11. What kind of confidence can I place in an electronic transfer of money?
  12. Will I be charged any service fees for the EFT process?

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What is EFT and can everyone participate?

EFT is the electronic transfer of funds from the State Controller's Office (SCO) to a state-contracted bank and then directly into a vendor's designated banking account. Vendors can authorize payments to be made directly to either a savings or checking account. Once SCO receives notification of payment from Caltrans, four working days are required to electronically transfer funds to a vendor's account. After the funds are transferred, a paper remittance advice will automatically be sent to each vendor detailing the specific account the payment was posted to, as well as the amount of the payment that was issued. Participation in the "pilot" EFT program is being limited to vendors that deal directly with the Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP), Local Assistance or Lease programs. It is the Department's intent that the EFT payment process will be expanded to include other payment types and vendors in the future as the success of the program is proven.

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What types of Caltrans disbursed payments are made via electronic funds transfer (EFT)?

As of November 1, 2001 there are three specific types of payments being processed through electronic funds transfer. These are large utility bills, contractor payments and rail bonds. It is the intent of the Department to expand this process by July 1, 2002 to include the Traffic Congestion Relief Program, Local Assistance Program and Lease payments. Once the success of the pilot EFT program is demonstrated, we plan to open the program up to as many vendors as we are able to accommodate through the EFT process.

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What is the driving force behind Caltrans use of the EFT process?

There are two major forces driving EFT payments. The first is the Governor's emphasis on e-government and the Department's desire to adhere to his directive. The second is the electronic funds transfer (EFT) provision of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 in which the Federal Government has set the standard for all vendor payments to become electronic. Caltrans is constantly seeking more effective and efficient ways to conduct its daily business, while enhancing business relations with our clients.

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What are the benefits of EFT?

  • EFT payments have been proven to be safer than checks.
  • Recipients do not have to worry about payments being lost or stolen. EFT is a fast, accurate, safe and efficient means of payment delivery.
  • Recipients do not have to wait in line at the bank.
  • EFT payments are processed faster than normal paper-mail distributed checks. Funds delivered to a recipient's account via EFT are available on the date the payment is received. This reduces delays in cashing checks, especially if the recipient is ill or otherwise unable to leave the business to cash the check.
  • EFT reduces the daily workload for Accounting staff.
  • The EFT process reduces the State's operating costs because it is more efficient.

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Where or whom can I call for information related to EFT payments?
Whom do I contact for information related to enrollment, late payment, or to update my EFT account?

As a client of Caltrans you should contact either the Caltran's staff member noted on your enrollment letter, remittance advice or you can contact one of these staff members.

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How do I enroll in the EFT program?

Enrollment is simple. As a vendor of Caltrans you can either download the a Enrollment form, or phone/e-mail the designated representative listed in answer # 5 and a form will be mailed to your business. As a note: it is important that you first check with your financial institution to ensure EFT payments are allowable. Some financial institutions do not accept EFT payments, or assess a service fee for these transactions.

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Will Caltrans make one-time payments to a vendor through EFT?

Once a vendor has elected to sign up to use the EFT process for specifically designated payment types, i.e. Local Programs, TCRP or Leases, all future vendor payments related to these types of activities will be required to be made electronically except in cases where an emergency or hardship exception is deemed to exist. These types of emergencies will be reviewed on an individual basis.

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Why has vendor participation in EFT been growing at such a slow rate?

The rate of vendor participation in EFT is attributable to one factor- EFT payments to vendors are usually accompanied by electronic remittance data (such as invoice numbers) that are crucial to vendors, but many financial institutions lack the technical capability needed to receive and transmit the remittance information to vendors. The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) estimates that only 1,250 out of 12,000 financial institutions are currently capable of both receiving and transmitting with electronic payment remittance information that is in human readable form. In addition, those financial institutions capable of processing remittance information often charge their customers for this service. For this reason, the State Controllers Office (SCO) will issue and mail a paper remittance advice to all vendors that are paid through the EFT process, at no charge to the vendor.

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How will Caltrans know if the vendor's financial institution's routing and transit information is established?

In order to certify the accuracy of financial information that is provided to Caltrans, there will be regularly scheduled "pre-note" tests to ensure that all financial routing and transit numbers actually exist. Data shown to be invalid will not be used for EFT payments. Additionally, Caltrans requests that vendors provide a voided check or a savings account deposit slip when signing up for the EFT process to ensure that the coding information provided is verifiable.

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Is the EFT process confidential?

With traditional invoice/payment processing, a warrant may be handled by as many as 10 people before it reaches a vendor's bank account. EFT eliminates most hands-on contact, which increases the confidentiality of the payment.

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What kind of confidence can I place in an electronic transfer of money?

People already place a lot of confidence in EFT transfers. When a person cashes a payroll check, electronic networks transfer money from your employer's account to yours, or provide authority for you to receive cash on the spot. What is happening behind the scenes is a variation of the same EFT process, whether you have EFT or are cashing or depositing your check personally.

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Will I be charged any service fees for the EFT process?

One of the benefits of EFT is that it will save your business time and money. EFT is a free service offered by the Department of Transportation.

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