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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 03/10/2011

Darrell Issa probing how agencies balance the books

By Ed O'Keefe


Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) (Post)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his Republican colleagues are turning their attention to how federal agencies balance their books -- the less prominent, but arguably more important side of the Obama administration's ongoing "open government" reforms.

Eye Opener

On his first day in office, President Obama ordered agencies to adopt "an unprecedented level of openness" that would lead to the wider distribution of government information by releasing White House visitor logs, fulfilling more Freedom of Information Act requests and by publishing online government information long kept behind closed doors.

Transparency advocates and good-government groups initially cheered the reforms, but later panned the early efforts, arguing the information posted online was of little value. White House aides have defended the efforts, acknowledging that early stumbles were expected because Obama is the first president to tackle government transparency concerns with a serious, coordinated plan.

As part of the reforms, several departments have canceled or revamped the development of new business and accounting systems used to receive payments, distribute federal funds and grants, manage contracts and process worker payrolls. Many of the systems cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, but in some cases were years overdue or inoperable.

Issa -- who has openly embraced the role as the administration's chief overseer -- has vowed to give a serious look at Obama's open-government plans, arguing they've yet to endure a serious congressional review. His House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is already probing agency FOIA operations,and on Wednesday it asked for detailed information by late March on each agency's business and accounting systems. The committee also wants to know what financial information is shared by agencies with the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget and what, if any data, is published online for public scrutiny.

Much of the government's financial data is published on USASpending.gov, a government Web site established in 2006 by legislation sponsored by then-Sen. Obama and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

The site's information on federal grants is frequently inaccurate, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which has generally supported Obama's transparency reforms. Issa and his colleagues seized on the findings and are holding a hearing Friday about the report -- after all, any nonpartisan organization raising concerns with a program supported by Obama fits perfectly with their oversight plans. Future hearings are expected to focus on the information requested Wednesday, according to Issa's office.

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Cabinet and Staff News: Administration officials are split on how to respond to the Libyan unrest. SEC head says she relied on counsel tied to Bernie Madoff account to sort out a conflict. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke formally nominated to serve as ambassador to China. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warns that most schools could face a federal "failing" label. Sen. Claire McCaskill to return $88K to the U.S. Treasury for charter flights. Robert Gibbs insists "I'm not going to run the DNC."

ATF:
ATF's tactics to end gun trafficking face a federal review: A controversy over tactics used to break up an extensive Mexican gunrunning ring has prompted federal officials to reevaluate an aggressive law enforcement strategy to stop firearms trafficking.

FDA:
FDA approves new drug to treat lupus: Federal regulators estimate that 300,000 to 1.5 million Americans have systemic lupus erythematosus and said in a statement that Benlysta, when used in conjunction with other drugs, offers a way to combat a particularly difficult disease.

IRS:
Lax Internal Revenue Service rules help groups shield campaign donor identities: Watchdog groups say that Crossroads GPS and other groups active in campaigns are taking advantage of lax agency enforcement to offer political donors anonymity.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:

Tucson shooting suspect pleads not guilty: U.S. District Judge Larry Burns also approved the release of some records of a police search of Jared Lee Loughner's home.

Justice Department: Speed up health care case: The Obama administration has asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite consideration of the health care reform law -- the second step in a process set in motion by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson.

NASA:

Space Shuttle Discovery lands for the last time: The final landing came after 27 years of service, exactly one cumulative year in space and an odometer reading of more than 148 million miles.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. funding tech firms that help Mideast dissidents evade government censors: Federal agencies - such as the State Department, the Defense Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors - have been funding a handful of technology firms that allow people to get online without being tracked or to visit news or social media sites that governments have blocked.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 10, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Oversight  
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Next: Battle royal over federal worker pay

Comments

Is Rep. Darrell Issa going to probe the U.S. Congress, too??
After all it seems for some reason all laws enacted ignore the needs of the American people and just look after the interests of these lobbyists and large contributors. It would seem that neither party is exempt from this type of actions.

It's a shame that our country is no longer a Democracy but a Cashrarocy!!
The best government that money did buy!!

Wonder how long the American people are going to be sheep??

Posted by: bkarpus | March 10, 2011 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Issa examining the Books. What a Joke, a nitwit from California examining any books . Hey Darrell, why not just look up a guy named Madoff . I think he's in prison with all the background you need to look into any book keeping by any Government entity. What a laugh giving boobs like you such a cushy job . Oh well, look at what the Hell a bunch of misfits voted into the Brown House .

Posted by: puck-101 | March 10, 2011 6:46 AM | Report abuse

There is so much opportunity for improvement. If the Congress can find a way to leave the partisanship behind, then over time we could have significant reductions of cost.

Posted by: Provincial | March 10, 2011 6:59 AM | Report abuse

California's economy is totally ruined and now, one of their representatives is conducting a federal financial investigation? Issa should be in California fixing their (his) mess. He's corrupt too. Google that clown and see.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | March 10, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

what happened to california is totally californias fault.

Posted by: SISSD1 | March 10, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa(Idiot).

Just another crook elected to Congress.

Posted by: bigmac1810 | March 10, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa examining government books is like the fox examining the chicken's eggs. Check Issa's questionable past regarding his ability to follow the law. The first priority for Issa's committee should be to investigate Issa himself!

Posted by: jp1943 | March 10, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The Clown Issa needs to be probed. What a complete waste of time, money and energy. If you vote Republican, something is wrong with you.

Posted by: porcelainproductions | March 10, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I'll never be a fan of Rep Issa. But Congress does have a Constitutionally mandated power of oversight of the Executive Branch, and this is a legitimate area to probe. Maybe he'll come up with something useful.

Posted by: BuddyK | March 10, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

All you Issa bashers need to put Henry Waxman in the same boat, no?

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | March 10, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Issa is just a partisan witch hunter, wasting our tax dollars. Give him something to do, like park cars. Oh wait..

Posted by: fluxgirl | March 10, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Does this mean that Issa is finally going to admit to arson, car theft, and multiple gun law violations or is he only concerned about the transparency of others? Only in America could a guy who burns down a building for the insurance money be taken seriously as a champion of reform in government.

Posted by: Bob22003 | March 10, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Issa is under investigation for fraud himself. Why doesn't he just hire Bernie Maddoff to audit the government?

Posted by: LeoNoVA | March 10, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

darrell, darrell and darrell, darrell the car thief, darrell the arsonist, darrell the corrupt republican

Posted by: calif-joe | March 10, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Excellent idea. Start with the Pentagon, where a small army of accountants can't tell us how much money is spent on what and there are more musicians then there are diplomats in the Department of State.

Posted by: ex-Virginian4 | March 10, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Convicted felon, Darryl Issa is investigating something? Is this a joke?

What next? Manson investigating murder? Rush Limbaugh investigating racism? Sarah Palin investigating ignorance?

Posted by: Eddie14 | March 10, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Convicted felon, Darryl Issa is investigating something? Is this a joke?

What next? Charles Manson investigating murder? Rush Limbaugh investigating racism? Sarah Palin investigating ignorance?

Posted by: Eddie14 | March 10, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The less I have to think about Issa, the better I feel. Its spelled to close to - and his actions too closely paralle "John Islip" the Manchurian Candidate goofy.

Thank Goodness, I no longer live in California. I hated having to account for his stupidity to my out of state friends.

At least we no longer have to apologize for the antics of Duncan the "Hore" Hunter or his good buddy from Escondido (whose name I thankfully can't remember) who was sent to the Federal Slammer.

Posted by: chamateddy | March 10, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

The Congressman might do well to suggest a final review system of payments.

At some point it would suit the US government and its adoring public well to apply the same basic fundamentals that every enterprise in the globe has done for years: price paid, to who, why, and mail it to where?. Have the review occur before you feed the check stock into the printer.
Sort them by dollar amounts and review the biggest checks first, and the checks that get sent to the same payee the most. No charge for that tip...

We have already seen their masterful administration of the budget. A farce. Even if they balance it, they still plan on overspending.

So apply one final emergency measure - make the Members of Congress who proposed the project spending bear the cost of the process through their Oversight Committee budget(s) before the fact, and they can use any money leftover to engage in theatrics and histrionics.

Posted by: cooney_colin | March 10, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

What happened, Congressman? You vowed a thousand subpoenas to examine corrupt government and you have yet to do anything. All show, no go, just like the rest of the Republicans in the House, you all follow the wimp, Boehner, into ineffective government. You all should resign for the good of the country.

Posted by: ronjeske | March 10, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

What happened, Congressman? You vowed a thousand subpoenas to examine corrupt government and you have yet to do anything. All show, no go, just like the rest of the Republicans in the House, you all follow the wimp, Boehner, into ineffective government. You all should resign for the good of the country.

Posted by: ronjeske | March 10, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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