Oversight: November 16, 2007

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

•House Financial Services Committee: (11/13/07) — Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), along with Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), subcommittee ranking member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Reps. Al Green (D-Texas), Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), sent a letter to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, inquiring about the administration’s plans to address the growing budget and management crisis in HUD’s Section 8 project-based assistance program.

“We write out of concern that recent HUD actions, including late payments and truncated contract funding terms, threaten to have significant negative impact on owner confidence in the project-based Section 8 program,” the lawmakers wrote.

•Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs: (11/14/07) —
Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote to Department of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff asking for details on the DHS’s steps to implement the recommendations that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlined in a report criticizing the nation’s traveler inspection system.

The report found that there are still vulnerabilities in U.S. Customs and Border Protection travel inspection procedures that leave the country exposed.

“We must meet our obligation to the American people to prevent dangerous goods and people from entering the country,” the letter stated.

•Senate Committee on Finance: (11/13/07) — Ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked top officials for the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to respond to questions about their agencies’ oversight of the marketing of prescription drugs that have not been approved by the FDA and illegitimate billing of the Medicaid program for unapproved drugs.

“In the last year, FDA has taken regulatory action against some manufacturers of unapproved drugs. However … many more unapproved drugs remain on the market,” Grassley wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach and CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems.