An Important Step to Increase Accountability and Oversight (Rep. Erik Paulsen)

It is clear to anyone who is watching that oversight of taxpayer dollars being spent through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has been grossly inadequate. Thus far, both the Bush and Obama Administrations, along with Congress, have not met the critical need to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers when it comes to this spending.

The lack of oversight and transparency is the reason one of my first votes in Congress was against the release of the $350 billion in additional TARP bailout spending. When the federal government is spending billions of taxpayer dollars, it is critical that we have the most stringent oversight and transparency possible.

The good news is that we took an important step forward in addressing that need today by passing legislation that creates broad authority for a Special Inspector General to oversee this spending going forward. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this bill unanimously and I was pleased to work closely with Representatives Dennis Moore and Judy Biggert as an original co-sponsor of this legislation.

Simply put, this bill represents a major break from the past.

Specifically, the legislation will provide the Special Inspector General with the tools and authority to conduct, supervise and coordinate audits and investigations of any action taken with regard to TARP funding. It will also institute quarterly reports to Congress, while requiring the Secretary of Treasury to take action – or certify no action is necessary – when problems or deficiencies are identified by the inspector.

The bill also requires that reports on institutions who receive TARP funding be posted on the SIG’s website within 24 hours after being submitted to Congress – an important measure to increasing transparency and accountability to taxpayers.

Our constituents deserve to know that when Washington is spending taxpayer dollars, it is making every effort to ensure that spending is transparent and accountable to the American people.

While some of us continue to have serious concerns about the sweeping and expanding government involvement in the private sector, I believe we can all agree that increasing oversight of the money currently being spent in order to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse is the right thing to do.

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