September 21, 2009

Last week, the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held hearings on how technology can be used to help keep track of how TARP funds are used, and for financial oversight in general.

Participants at the hearing, titled "Utilizing Technology to Improve TARP and Financial Oversight," discussed the role of technology in efforts to provide transparency and accountability for programs like TARP and how technology can be used to ensure federal agencies provide strong, coordinated oversight of financial services activity.

Dennis Moore (D-KS) chairs the subcommittee. He says with all the money that was expended on TARP, there should be a more efficient way to monitor the funds to ensure the taxpayers are paid back.

"The Treasury Department recently reported that a total of $70.3 billion of TARP investments have been repaid, but hundreds of billions of TARP funds are still outstanding," Rep. Moore tells BS&T. "As chairman of this Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I fully intend to keep the pressure on until every single dollar of TARP funds has been repaid to taxpayers. We want to look at how technology can help in that effort."

The hearing was a learning opportunity for all involved, Moore notes.

"I believe the hearing helped my colleagues and me to better understand what technologies are available today, and what might be possible if the federal government can take full advantage of these technologies to provide better oversight of TARP and other programs," he explains. "I believe we conveyed to the witnesses that this hearing has served to heighten our interest in further addressing how technology may be used in the future."

In particular, Moore says one way in which this can be accomplished is by implementing a National Land Parcel Database that would monitor the housing market and act as an early warning system while also providing greater transparency to the financial services industry and regulators.

Also, a potential bill around monitoring TARP funding—H.R. 1242, the TARP Accountability and Disclosure Act—was examined as a means of helping to track the funds in a standardized fashion. The bill was proposed by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee. It is also a bill Moore supports.

"I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1242 because it will utilize technology that is readily available today and will help standardize and monitor TARP data so that not only the government, but more importantly, the U.S. taxpayers will know how TARP funds are being spent," he states. "Hopefully H.R. 1242 will move forward in the process so we can begin using technology to improve TARP oversight. We will also continue to look at other technologies and proposals that could be used to help government do its job better."

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