... It should not come as a surprise that the Treasury Department is handing out bailout money under the same ''no accountability, no transparency'' rules that governed Wall Street as the economy fell into ruin. Fortunately, a new set of managers takes over next week, but Congress must be clear about what it wants — and a lot tougher in making sure that it knows where the money goes.

President-elect Obama already has begun lobbying Congress to release the second half of the $700 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program as soon as possible. Congress should agree, giving the president a chance to get off to a running start when he takes over. But this time it must impose specific goals and measures of accountability.

A proposal by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, contains some good ideas. It would allow the Treasury to apply pay restrictions on executive compensation retroactively and force institutions getting bailout money to get rid of their private aircraft. The new Obama administration would be required to spend between $40 billion and $100 billion of the remaining $350 billion on foreclosure mitigation.

''Trust but verify,'' President Reagan used to say about arms-control agreements with the Soviet Union. The same notion should govern Congress' actions as it goes about the business of handing out billions of dollars to save the economy.