In reading over the executive summary for the stimulus package that was just introduced by the House Appropriations Committee--which calls for $825 billion in spending and tax cuts to revive the struggling economy--we're pleased to announce that the bill includes crucial accountability provisions to protect taxpayers from wasteful spending and pork barrel projects.
The Committee's statement declares that “a historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment.”
Here are a few highlights:
- Funds will be distributed to programs with proven track records and accountability measures already in place;
- All expenditures and announcements of contracts and grants must be posted on a special public website created by the new administration, as has been proposed by Good Jobs First and other groups; funding notifications must include details on the total cost and an explanation for why the project should be paid for with stimulus funds; and those who make funding decision must personally certify that taxpayer dollars are being used in a responsible fashion;
- A seven-member Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board, including Inspectors General and deputy cabinet secretaries, will be created to oversee the recovery effort and to report on any problems;
- IGs and the GAO will be provided with additional funding and access to review the recovery effort (we're still hopeful that Congress will give similar resources to the Special IG for the bailout);
- Federal and state whistleblowers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse will be protected from retaliation--a proposal that's being championed by the Make It Safe coalition; and
- The stimulus package will not include any earmarks--a concern that's been raised by Taxpayers for Common Sense and others.
Taxpayers have a right to know whether or not their money is being spent effectively and responsibly as part of the economic recovery effort, and we'll be watching closely to ensure that these accountability provisions are ultimately included in the final version of the stimulus bill.
-- Michael Smallberg
UPDATE: The full text of the bill is available here. The accountability provisions begin on page 11.