In response to the deepening economic recession, the President and Congress have enacted sweeping new measures meant to stimulate economic growth and stabilize the nation’s financial markets. Although POGO takes no position on the merits of the various bailout and recovery initiatives, we believe it is essential that the ongoing expenditure of trillions of taxpayer dollars be subjected to extraordinary scrutiny. As a steering committee member of BailoutWatch and the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, POGO is committed to making the economic recovery more transparent and accountable. POGO is also developing recommendations to strengthen the nation’s financial regulatory agencies so that future crises can be avoided.
Congress has committed $700 billion to the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in response to the subprime mortgage crisis and the ensuing freeze in the nation's credit markets. Additional agencies such as the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are also spending trillions in public funds to encourage lending and to assist banks in dealing with mortgage-backed loans and securities. POGO has raised concerns that the government's effort to increase public confidence in the financial markets is being undermined by excessive secrecy, a lack of accountability for the firms receiving government assistance, and an appearance of conflicts of interest and favoritism, among other issues. POGO is also working to ensure that the agencies tasked with bailout oversight have the authority and resources they need to be effective watchdogs.
Financial Regulatory Agencies
In recent months there has been widespread bipartisan agreement on the need to strengthen the nation's financial regulatory agencies in order to prevent future economic crises. POGO is working with a diverse group of insiders and experts to develop recommendations for financial regulatory reform. POGO's recommendations will address issues such as improving enforcement practices at the SEC, mitigating conflicts of interest at credit rating agencies, protecting whistleblowers who expose securities fraud, and managing systemic risk across the financial system.
With agencies and states across the country spending billions in economic recovery funds, POGO is working to ensure that the stimulus is held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. As was the case with Katrina and Iraq reconstruction projects, the sudden availability of billions in stimulus funds has created a dangerous potential for waste, fraud, and abuse. In order to protect taxpayers' interests, POGO is advocating for responsible government contracting and improved transparency and disclosure on Recovery.gov and other stimulus websites. POGO is also working to strengthen the federal inspectors general and the various agencies responsible for stimulus oversight. In addition, POGO believes in improving protections for the whistleblowers who expose wasteful and fraudulent recovery expenditures.
State Stimulus Oversight
POGO needs your help identifying some of the most effective and innovative state or local mechanisms that can ensure that federal stimulus funds are spent ethically, effectively, transparently, and accountably.