When Barack Obama pushed his $787 billion Porkulus bill through Congress, he pledged strict accountability over the money. Obama even famously warned mayors that waste and fraud would get his undivided attention, and that his wrath would be mighty indeed:
“If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it, and put a stop to it,” he said. “I want everyone here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it, and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it.”
Welcome to yet another round of Guess That Expiration Date. Jake Tapper highlights a new GAO report, which reveals that the bill provides insufficient accountability for the nearly $800 billion it proposes to spend. Why? Because it left accountability to the states, which don’t have the personnel to manage it:
The GAO study asserts that officials from most of the states surveyed “expressed concerns regarding the lack of Recovery Act funding provided for accountability and oversight. Due to fiscal constraints, many states reported significant declines in the number of oversight staff — limiting their ability to ensure proper implementation and management of Recovery Act funds.”
Because the economic downturn has led to “fiscal constraints, many states reported significant declines in the number of oversight staff, limiting their ability to ensure proper implementation and management of Recovery Act funds.”
As but one example, Colorado’s state auditor told GAO about the difficulty the state has in conducting oversight of the stimulus finds. The Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee recently cut in half field audit staff for the Colorado Department of Human Services. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has had three controllers in the past four years. Vacancies exist for the positions of internal auditor at the Department of Personnel & Administration, and deputy controller at the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The GAO report’s warning of a lack of oversight echoed criticisms from earlier this week, when the Office of Special Inspector General for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program Neil Barofsky presented his quarterly report to Congress.
Read the rest of Tapper’s report to find out all the ways in which no one can tell where the TARP money went. Porkulus has all the same problems — spending large amounts of money with no real plan, no built-in accountability, and no one terribly interested in Washington now that the money’s been allocated.
Obama to mayors: Hey, never mind. Can’t a man just eat his waffle?
Obama pledged to bring new openness and transparency to Washington. How’s that working out for us?