Could we finally be headed for a whole new level of transparency and oversight over the bailout funds?
Neal Barofsky, the inspector general for the TARP program, today sent a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance committee, announcing his intention to ask that banks that have received TARP funds report back to his office within 30 days on what they’ve done with that money.
Barofsky is addressing what’s been the most glaring example of the lack of oversight that has characterized TARP so far — and a problem that Elizabeth Warren’s Congressional Oversight Panel has lamented on several occasions.
In the letter, Barofsky wrote, dryly, that the effort “will improve general transparency of the [TARP], and increase the ability of [the inspector general] and Congress to assess the effectiveness of TARP programs over time.
In explaining the need for the move, Barofsky added:
Even a basic examination of whether various TARP programs are successfully furthering the goals of EESA is made difficult if we do not know what was done with the money in the first instance.
It’s not clear what authority Barofsky would have to compel the banks to disclose information, if they resisted. But it sounds like things are slowly getting on track.
Still, mightn’t it have been smart to have started this effort last fall when bailout funds were first handed over, instead of waiting till now?