Grassley said oversight over the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its local authorities is desperately needed.

"The agency seems to get involved in oversight of local housing authorities only after the fact, when the abuse has occurred and local media have documented the problems," Grassley said in a statement Wednesday. "For the public benefit, we need to reverse the timeframe. HUD and local housing authorities need to prevent malfeasance on the front end, not chase it after the fact when it's too late.

"I hope the senators responsible for HUD funding and programs will step in and help me reverse the lax oversight that harms the people who need safe, affordable housing and the taxpayers alike."

Grassley pointed to scandals of high salaries and inappropriate use of cars.

"The country has thousands of local housing authorities spending billions of federal dollars," Grassley said. "Those who are tempted to abuse the system have too much leeway due to a lack of oversight. This has to change, sooner rather than later. The senators who control the purse strings and housing policy are in a key position to exact change."

Grassley cited one example of housing authority-owned vehicle abuse, in which the executive director of the Albuquerque, N.M., housing authority took her housing authority vehicle to get her nails done on Friday afternoons. She was later fired.

Grassley urged his colleagues to launch investigations through their committees into the mismanagement and waste of local HUD authorities.