|WASHINGTON – Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday held a second hearing in a continuing series of hearings to monitor how billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law this past February. At the hearing, entitled “Recovery and Investment Spending: Implementing a Bold Oversight Strategy,” the Chairman and Ranking Member discussed the urgency of making sure that proper controls are in place to deter waste, fraud, or mismanagement before stimulus money is distributed.
“We all want the Recovery Act to succeed and I think we all need it to succeed to protect and create jobs and to start our economy growing again,” Lieberman said. “But if we start hearing stories about how the taxpayers’ money is being wasted or funneled to favorite contractors or flat out lost to fraud or theft, faith in government at all levels and support for the overall program will erode – no matter that other parts of the program are successful.”
Collins said: “The American people have high expectations for the Recovery Act. Funds need to be dispersed quickly to meet the goals of stimulating the economy, but we must ensure that haste does not make waste. We in Congress have insisted on added safeguards and aggressive oversight of stimulus spending, including the creation of the Recovery Act Transparency Board to oversee federal oversight of these critical funds. The website Recovery.gov has been launched to provide the public with access to stimulus information, and to help us prevent fraud, waste and abuse. The more eyes we have on this spending, the better.”
In recent weeks, the Administration has taken a number of steps to respond to concerns raised by Committee members at the March 5 hearing on stimulus oversight. OMB is revising guidance to ensure that reporting on stimulus spending – which will be included on Recovery.Gov – reaches down the chain to the level of subcontractors and sub-awards. In response to concerns about agency staffing to handle stimulus administration and oversight, the Office of Personnel Management has authorized federal agencies to use excepted-service hiring procedures to help carry out the Recovery Act.”
The two witnesses – Robert L. Nabors, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Earl Devaney, Chair of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board – spoke about the development of Recovery.gov, the Administration website that allows Americans to track grants, contracts and other forms of assistance as they are awarded and report back on suspected waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement in their own communities. Recovery.gov receives about 4,000 hits a second, for a total of about 300 million since its creation, according to Devaney.
This was the second in a series of hearings the Committee is holding on implementation and oversight of the Recovery Act. The first was held on March 5 and the next will be held April 7, in Hartford, Conn.