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Rep. Towns Will Seek Federal Funds for State Auditors

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated and Corrected 8:52 p.m. ET

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said today he plans to introduce legislation that would allow state governments to use some of their federal stimulus dollars for statewide auditing efforts, stating that the lack of funding for state oversight in the original stimulus funding was an omission by Congress and the Obama administration that should be corrected.

Ed Towns
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I am concerned that a very heavy burden is being placed on state auditors who are responsible for monitoring and accounting for the Recovery Act funds they receive," Towns said at House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing held in his Brooklyn, N.Y. district.

"With individual states receiving billions in stimulus funding, it makes sense that the states also be fully equipped to closely monitor those taxpayer dollars."

In an interview today with Goverment Executive, Towns said the new state money would be separate from the $787 billion economic stimulus package, but added an exact amount has not yet been determined

The New York Democrat, who chairs the Oversight panel, said he's making his proposals after several members of his committee raised concerns about the lack of state auditing funds during the panel's first hearing on stimulus oversight last month. Observers have warned that most state government watchdogs are ill-equipped to track an influx of federal funding, especially as state governments scale back amid declining tax revenue.

Towns's proposal has the support of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee's ranking member, who "strongly supports Chairman Towns's call to address oversight shortcomings in the stimulus bill," said spokesman Frederick Hill.

Five members of the oversight hearing appeared before a standing room only crowd in Towns's Brooklyn district earlier today to hear from state and city officials about how they are handling stimulus funding.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post cited committee staffers as saying that Towns' bill would not establish a new pot of federal dollars for the states, contrary to what he later told Government Executive.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 21, 2009; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Oversight  
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