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Treasury Staffs Up to Implement Bailout Package

By Ed O'Keefe

Plenty of questions remain about how the Treasury Department will implement the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), or "financial bailout package," passed earlier this Fall, but a report by the General Accountability Office issued this afternoon helps clear up some confusion.

The Eye won't touch the financial details of the report (he defers to The Post's business section), but there are some interesting bureaucratic details worth noting.

Neel Kashkari
Neel Kashkari, the Treasury's interim assistant secretary for financial stability, heads up the new Office of Financial Stability. (Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

First off, Treasury hopes to fill perhaps as many as 200 full-time-equivalent positions in the newly-created Office of Financial Stability (OFS). It has already hired five permanent staffers with about 43 others temporarily assigned from other Treasury offices and federal agencies. But GAO recommends OFS accelerate its hiring process since the presidential transition will likely complicate TARP's implementation.

Critics and Federal employee unions will likely raise concerns about OFS's plans to hire contractors. According to the report, the office "used expedited solicitation procedures and structured the [contract] agreements to allow for flexibility in procuring the required services." In plain English that means Treasury may have rushed through the dirty details, potentially leading to over-billing in the future. This rushed procurement process "requires enhanced oversight," the report suggests.

The Eye also found this chart that demonstrates the structure of OFS. It is part of the Office of Domestic Finance and includes a Chief Investment Officer, Chief Risk Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief of Homeownership Preservation, tasked with "overseeing efforts to reduce foreclosures and identify opportunities to help homeowners keep and protect their homes while also protecting taxpayers." All five chiefs are serving on an interim basis and used to work at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the Export-Import Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

In short, Treasury still has plenty of work to do before it can successfully deal with the full size and scope of TARP. Considering its impact on the economy and the way it's already changed the size and power of the government, The Eye will be watching!

Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 2, 2008; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door  
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Comments

We have to look at "the big picture." The days of tunnel vision are over. Our nation better wake up and smell the coffee. With all our bail outs along with the 168 billion economic stimulus package, that btw did nothing for our economy it is hard to understand why our government can't see the need to bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil. The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. Why don't we invest in America's Energy Independence. Create clean cheap energy, badly needed new green collar jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What more of a win-win situation could there be? Instead of spending billions upon billions on bailouts, why don't we instead invest in renewable energy. We have GUARANTEED returns if we do this. I just read a fascinating book by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW .This book Is the big picture.

Posted by: BeyondGreen | December 2, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

How could Kashkari still be employed at Treasury given his statements befor eKuchinich committee 2 weeks ago.

The statements in effect said he made a business decision about a banks viabilty over the the interests of the public.

His performance ( and a poor one at that) was disgraceful. He mocked the committee members at every question they asked

if anyone needs the boot it is kaskari but all of these employees need to get out of town quickly.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | December 2, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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