Washington Post has an article on bailout oversight.
In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury’s massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country’s largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.
Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.
Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.
“It’s a mess,” said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department’s inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. “I don’t think anyone understands right now how we’re going to do proper oversight of this thing.”
In approving the rescue package, lawmakers trumpeted provisions in the legislation that established layers of independent scrutiny, including a special inspector general to be nominated by the White House and a congressional oversight panel to be named by lawmakers themselves.
Some lawmakers and their aides fear that political squabbling on Capitol Hill and bureaucratic logjams could delay their work for months. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office, which also has some oversight responsibilities, is worried about the difficulty of hiring people who can understand the intensely complicated financial work involved.
I was thinking that several things might be true:
1. No one offered the job has accepted (probably just shaking their heads).
2. It would be suicidal to one’s career in the private and public sector if done honestly.
3. The authority of the position is token, in that it appears records are tucked away under different jurisdictions, including the Fed whose status to surrender information is in a gray area.
4. It is a short list after all.
5. This is my polite list, non-partisan. I know of several readers who can be more thorough and accurate. Let’s do it.