The Campaign Spot

It Takes a Lot of Money to Watch Over a Lot of Money

Worried about waste in the stimulus bill? Good news! Congressional Democrats have recognized the concern, and have established a mechanism to watch over the billions being doled out in this special appropriation.

Section 1221 of the bill establishes a “Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board” to conduct oversight and to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. The Board will consist of President Obama’s Chief Performance Officer and six members who are either inspectors general or deputy secretaries in the cabinet departments that will be spending the money.

The board is expected to produce quarterly and annual reports, as well as “flash reports” as necessary.

Now, the CPO and the other six members already have day jobs, so the board will need to hire staff, and the legislation provides for the chairman to “appoint and fix the compensation of an executive director and other personnel as may be required to carry out the functions of the Board.” The director shall be paid “at the rate of basic pay for level IV of the Executive Schedule,” which maxed out at $149,000 in 2008. (Hey, the bill is creating new six-figure jobs already!) Travel expenses for the members will be reimbursed under federal guidelines. The panel will work until 90 percent of the funds in the bill have been spent. (“Waste, fraud and abuse” will stop being a concern once they’ve gotten to that last 10 percent, apparently.)

The amount provided in the bill for cost of these seven positions, executive director, staff, web site creation, report publication and travel? $14 million.

UPDATE: This is separate from the extra $233.5 million allocated to various cabinet agency inspectors general to watch for fraud, waste, mismanagement, etc.

Now, I’m glad that stopping fraud and waste is a high priority. I just wish duplication of offices for existing duties was on the radar screen, too . . .

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