Trump flops on accountability for pandemic relief spending

Inspectors General are alarmed at the Trump administration’s blocking accountability for its spending on pandemic relief programs. No one is sure which companies are receiving huge grants of public funds. Two Inspectors General recently sent a letter to congressional committee chairs to warn that Trump had curtailed independent oversight of Cares Act funding. (The Washington Post, June 15, 2020, by Tom Hamburger, Jeff Stein, Jonathan O’Connell and Aaron Gregg)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress that he could not disclose who received taxpayer-funded loans because it was “proprietary information.” (First Coast ABC News, June 13, 2020, by Marcy Gordon and Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press)

With the public and news media unable to discover who received relief funds, 11 news outlets sued the Small Business Administration under the Freedom of Information Act. Even though members of both parties are alarmed by the lack of accountability, Congress has not been able to agree on any legislation to address the problem. (The Guardian, June 9, 2020, by Emily Holden and Daniel Strauss)

POGO cited five safeguards for spending on the pandemic in March: meaningful oversight, effective transparency, whistleblower protection, preventing exploitation, and protecting constitutional rights. (Project on Government Oversight, March 23, 2020, by POGO staff)

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