President Obama is pushing ahead on a plan to reduce foreclosures, but a watchdog panel set up by Congress to look after the the $700 billion financial rescue package says the federal government's efforts are hampered by a lack of information about mortgage markets.

"Absent more complete and accurate information, legislators, regulators, and market participants are flying blind," the Congressional Oversight Panel said in a report to be released on Friday.

The panel said the lack of data is "striking" and that the federal regulators "still know surprisingly little" about why so many homes are going into foreclosure.

"The ability of federal banking and housing regulatory agencies to gather and analyze this data is hampered by the lack of a nationwide loan performance data reporting requirement on the industry. Consequently, there is no comprehensive private or government source for accurately tracking loan delinquencies and loss mitigation efforts, including foreclosures and modifications, on a complete, national scale. No federal agency has the ability to track delinquencies and loss mitigation efforts for more than 60% of the market. Existing data are plagued by inconsistencies in collection methodologies and reporting, and the numbers are often simply unverifiable. Worse still, the data that are collected are often not the data needed for answering key questions, such as, what are causing mortgage defaults and why loan modifications have not been working. The United States is now two years into a foreclosure crisis that has brought economic collapse, and federal banking and housing regulators still know surprisingly little about the number of foreclosures, what is driving the foreclosures, and the efficacy of mitigation endorses a much more vigorous plan to collect critical foreclosure data," the panel said.

- Silla Brush