Congressional Oversight Panel: Wikis


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The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act created the Troubled Assets Relief Program to administer up to $700 billion dollars. Several oversight mechanisms are established by the bill, including the Congressional Oversight Panel, the Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP), the Financial Stability Oversight Board, and additional requirements for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).


Financial Stability Oversight Board (FSOB)

The Financial Stability Oversight Board is created to review and make recommendations regarding the Treasury's actions.[1] Its purpose is to review the operation of TARP, to make recommendations to the Treasury for improvements, and to watch for fraud and misrepresentation. The FSOB also has the power to ensure that the Treasury follows policies in accordance with the Act and the economic interest of the U.S. It is to meet on a monthly basis and report to Congress and the Oversight Panel quarterly.[2]

The members of the board are:

Congressional Oversight Panel (COP)

[4] [5]

The "Congressional Oversight Panel" was mandated by Title 1, Section 125 of the TARP legislation [6] as an "establishment in the legislative branch." The Congressional Oversight Panel is charged with the job of reviewing the state of the markets, current regulatory system, and the Treasury Department's management of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The panel is required to report their findings to Congress every 30 days, counting from the first asset purchase made under the program. The panel must also submit a special report to Congress about regulatory reform on or before January 20, 2009.[7] The Congressional Oversight Panel will cease to exist on December 31, 2009 unless renewed. [8]

The panel consists of five outside experts appointed as follows:

The first meeting of this board was held Wednesday, November 25 and elected Ms. Warren as the chairperson and Damon Silvers as deputy chairperson. As no assets have yet been purchased, (OFS instead chose to provide $250 billion to banks through the Capital Purchase Program) it is not clear whether the requirement to report after 30 days from "first asset purchase" has been violated.

On December 8, 2009 the government’s financial bailout program concluded in a year-end review that, despite flaws and lingering problems, the program “can be credited with stopping an economic panic.”[14] Also on this date, Rep. Jeb Hensarling stepped down from the panel, submitting his letter of resignation. Hensarling is being replaced with Mark McWatters, a Dallas lawyer and certified public accountant who has served as an advisor to Hensarling. [15]

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The Comptroller General (director of the Government Accountability Office) is required to monitor the performance of the program, and report findings to Congress every 60 days. The Comptroller General is also required to audit the program annually. The bill grants the Comptroller General access to all information, records, reports, data, etc. belonging to or in use by the program.[16][17]

On December 2, 2008, GAO released their first report on the bailout [18][19]. Neel Kashkari, the OFS chairman, said in a letter to GAO [20] that the department agrees with the report's findings and most of its recommendations but questioned GAO's suggestion to require more reporting from banks, saying gathering specifics from individual banks might not be the best way to evaluate the program. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the report's findings "discouraging." [21] and that the report shows the program "is not accountable to American taxpayers."

Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP)

The EESA creates the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Special Inspector General's purpose is to monitor, audit and investigate the activities of the Treasury in the administration of the program, and report findings to Congress every quarter.[16][22] Eric Thorson is the Inspector General of the US Department of the Treasury and currently is responsible for the oversight of the TARP but has expressed concerns about the difficulty of properly overseeing the complex program in addition to his regular responsibilities. Thorson called oversight of TARP a "mess" and later clarified this to say "The word 'mess' was a description of the difficulty my office would have in providing the proper level of oversight of the TARP while handling its growing workload, including conducting audits of certain failed banks and thrifts at the same time that efforts are underway to nominate a special inspector general." [1]

The Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky, was confirmed by the Senate on December 8, 2008, and was sworn into office on December 15, 2008. Prior to assuming the position of Special Inspector General, Mr. Barofsky was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for more than eight years. Mr. Barofsky received the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for his work on the Refco matter. Mr. Barofsky also led the investigation that resulted in the indictment of the top 50 leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on narcotics charges, a case described by the then Attorney General as the largest narcotics indictment filed in U.S. history.[23]

Mr. Barofsky is a magna cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.

TARP Oversight Reports


COP Reports

- Taking Stock: What Has the Troubled Asset Relief Program Achieved?, 12/09/09,
- Guarantees and Contingent Payments in TARP and Related Programs, 11/06/09,
- An Assessment of Foreclosure Mitigation Efforts After Six Months, 10/09/09,
- The Use of TARP Funds in Support and Reorganization of the Domestic Automotive Industry, 09/09/09,
- The Continued Risk of Troubled Assets, 08/11/09,
- Special Report on Farm Loan Restructuring, 07/21/09,
- TARP Repayments, Including the Repurchase of Stock Warrants, 07/10/09,
- Stress Testing and Shoring Up Bank Capital, 06/09/09,
- Reviving Lending to Small Businesses and Families and the Impact of the TALF, 05/07/09,
- Assessing Treasury’s Strategy: Six Months of TARP, 04/07/09,
- Foreclosure Crisis: Working Toward a Solution, 03/06/09,
- February Oversight Report: Valuing Treasury’s Acquisitions, 02/06/09,
- Special Report on Regulatory Reform, 01/29/09,
- Accountability for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, 01/09/09,
- Questions About the $700 Billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Funds, 12/10/08,

Main COP Reports Website:


- AUDIT: Additional Insight on Use of TARP Funds, 12/10/09,
- AUDIT: Factors Affecting Efforts to Limit Payments to AIG Counterparties, 11/17/09,
- 4th Quarterly Report to Congress, 10/21/09,
- Additional Appendices to 4th Quarterly Report to Congress, 10/21/09,
- AUDIT: Extent of Federal Agencies' Oversight of AIG Compensation Varied, and Important Challenges Remain, 10/14/09,
- AUDIT: Emergency Capital Injections Provided to Support the Viability of Bank of America, Other Major Banks, and the U.S. Financial System, 10/05/09,
- AUDIT: Despite Evolving Rules on Executive Compensation, SIGTARP Survey Provides Insights on Compliance, 08/19/09,
- AUDIT: Opportunities to Strengthen Controls to Avoid Undue External Influence over Capital Purchase Program Decision Making, 08/06/09,
- 3rd Quarterly Report to Congress, 07/21/09,
- Additional Appendices to 3rd Quarterly Report, 07/21/09,
- AUDIT: Use of TARP Funds Audit, 07/20/09,
- 2nd Quarterly Report to Congress, 04/21/09,
- Initial Report to Congress, 02/06/09,

Main SIGTARP Reports Website:

GAO Reports

- TARP: The U.S. Government Role as Shareholder in AIG, Citigroup, Chrysler, and General Motors and Preliminary Views on its Investment Management Activities, 12/16/09,
- AUDIT: Office of Financial Stability (TARP) Fiscal Year 2009 Financial Statements, 12/09/09,
- TARP: Continued Stewardship Needed as Treasury Develops Strategies for Monitoring and Divesting Financial Interests in Chrysler and GM, 11/02/09,
- TARP: One Year Later, Actions Are Needed to Address Remaining Transparency and Accountability Challenges, 10/08/09,
- TARP: Status of Government Assistance Provided to AIG, 09/21/09,
- TARP: Treasury Actions Needed to Make the Home Affordable Modification Program More Transparent and Accountable, 07/23/09,
- TARP: June 2009 Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues, 06/17/09,
- TARP: March 2009 Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues, 03/31/09,
- TARP: Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues, 01/30/09,
- TARP: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency, 12/02/08,

Main GAO Reports Website:

Treasury Department and Financial Stability Oversight Board (FSOB)

- TARP Monthly Report, 12/10/09,

- FSOB Quarter Ending, 09/30/2009,
- FSOB Quarter Ending 06/30/2009,
- FSOB Quarter Ending 03/31/2009,
- FSOB Quarter Ending 12/31/2008,

Main TARP Reports and Transactions:

CBO Reports

- The Troubled Asset Relief Program: Report on Transactions Through June 17, 2009,
- The Troubled Asset Relief Program: Report on Transactions Through December 31, 2008,

Additional CBO Reports Citing TARP:

Additional Resources on TARP Oversight

- House Financial Services Committee's TARP oversight reports page,
- ProPublica's "Eye on the Bailout",
- Bailout Sleuth blog,
- Huffington Post's Bailout page,
- Google News' search of TARP and Bailouts,
- New York Times' TARP page,
- Wall Street Journal's TARP page,

Claims that oversight has not been effective

Government officials overseeing bailout don't know how it's being spent

A December 31, 2008 Associated Press article stated, "Government officials overseeing a $700 billion bailout have acknowledged difficulties tracking the money and assessing the program's effectiveness." [24]

A January 29, 2009 article from stated, "Bloomberg News asked the Treasury Department Jan. 26 to disclose what securities it backed over the past two months in a second round of actions to prop up Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. Department spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Jan. 27 she would seek an answer. None had been provided by the close of business yesterday." [25]

Banks won't say how they are spending bailout money

A December 22, 2008 Associated Press article stated, "The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest? None of the banks provided specific answers... Some banks said they simply didn't know where the money was going." [26]

A review of investor presentations and conference calls by executives of some two dozen US-based banks by the New York Times found that "few [banks] cited lending as a priority. An overwhelming majority saw the bailout program as a no-strings-attached windfall that could be used to pay down debt, acquire other businesses or invest for the future." [27]

Federal government paid $254 billion for assets that were worth only $176 billion

On February 5, 2009, Elizabeth Warren, chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel, told the Senate Banking Committee that during 2008, the federal government paid $254 billion for assets that were worth only $176 billion. [28]

Bailout recipients spent $114 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2008

On February 4, 2009, it was reported that during 2008, the companies that received bailout money had spent $114 million on lobbying and campaign contributions. These companies received $295 billion in bailout money. Sheila Krumholz, executive director of The Center for Responsive Politics, said of this information, "Even in the best economic times, you won't find an investment with a greater payoff than what these companies have been getting." [29]

Bank of America throws $10 million Super Bowl party

A February 2, 2009 ABC News article titled, "Bailed Out Bank of America Sponsors Super Bowl Fun Fest" stated that Bank of America sponsored a Super Bowl event at a five star resort in Palm Beach, which was described as "... a five day carnival-like affair... 850,000 square feet of sports games and interactive entertainment attractions for football fans..." Although the bank refused to answer ABC News' questions about the cost of the event, a confidential source told ABC that the cost was approximately $10 million. [30]

Oversight Efforts

XBRL Proposed as tool to aid in TARP Oversight

At the Domestic Policy Subcommittee hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on March 11, 2009, XBRL was proposed as a mechanism for automating the data entry and processing of financial filings to aid in TARP oversight. [31]


  1. ^ Amendment to HR 1424, Division A, Section 104.
  2. ^ Nothwehr, E. (2008), "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Amendment to HR 1424, Division A, Section 125.
  8. ^ Section 125 references Section 120 for its termination date, and section 120 states terminates 12/31/2009 unless renewed by a letter from the Secretary.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b Sweet, Lynn. "Bailout bill 'Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008' searchable summary", Chicago Sun-Times, September 28, 2008.
  17. ^ Amendment to HR 1424, Division A, Section 116.
  18. ^ USA Today
  19. ^ text of the report from
  20. ^ ibid
  21. ^ ibid
  22. ^ Amendment to HR 1424, Division A, Section 121.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Officials: tracking bailout money is difficult, Associated Press, December 31, 2008
  25. ^ Obama Records Pledge Tested By Citigroup Guarantees,, January 29, 2009
  26. ^ Where'd the bailout money go? Shhhh, it's a secret, Associated Press, December 22, 2008
  27. ^ McIntire, Mike (January 17, 2009). "Bailout Is a Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers.".  
  28. ^ Watchdog: Treasury overpaid for bank stocks, February 5, 2009
  29. ^ U.S. bailout recipients spent $114 million on politics, Reuters, February 4, 2009
  30. ^ Bailed Out Bank of America Sponsors Super Bowl Fun Fest, ABC News, February 2, 2009
  31. ^{44E803FE-0A15-4E0E-BA03-CD0CDC0FAC13}&dist=msr_4


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