WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation today to increase transparency in the use of the $700 billion appropriated through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to banks and other financial companies. The TARP Transparency Act directs the U.S. Department of the Treasury to more aggressively compile and disclose how TARP funds have been used – information that currently is submitted in a variety of formats to several federal agencies – for review by the TARP Inspector General, the Congressional Oversight Panel and the public.
The TARP Transparency Act will allow regulators and Congress to use a single database, in a standardized format, to provide a more complete picture of the actions of TARP fund recipients and contractors. The information could be collected and disseminated in near real-time, enhancing its value as a regulatory audit tool and also as a preventative oversight tool.
“Taxpayers deserve comprehensive and robust oversight of how TARP funds are being used,” said Senator Brown, Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy. “Given the tremendous investment made by taxpayers, it is critical that Wall Street banks use TARP funds to unfreeze credit markets so that Main Street businesses and families can get our economy back on track. This is about protecting taxpayers through aggressive collection and disclosure to Congress of TARP fund use.”
“Our legislation creates a database and auditing system that will collect and disclose this information in a consistent and standardized format,” Senator Warner said. “It is inconceivable to me that we are not using the most complete and sophisticated technology available to disclose this information. Greater TARP transparency will allow regulators to be more proactive in protecting the taxpayers’ investment, and it will help us spot potential waste, fraud and abuse. I also believe the release of more information will begin to restore taxpayer’s confidence in how these $700 billion in TARP funds have been used.”
“The data sources required to create transparency for the TARP initiative are presently housed in disparate agencies, systems, and formats. Our legislation directs the Treasury Department to collect all data in a readily usable fashion to make it transparent and traceable,” said Senator Martinez, a member of the Senate Banking Committee.
Neil Barofsky, the special government inspector general assigned to oversee TARP, submitted a 250-page report to Congress last week based on surveys of 364 banks that have received TARP funds. The inspector general noted nearly 100 percent of survey recipients responded, disproving claims that more comprehensive reporting by TARP recipients would be onerous and the information would be difficult to collect.
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