TARP Program Growing More Complex, Costly

In case you lost track, the $3 trillion Troubled Asset Relief Program has become a hydra-headed, public-private endeavor that is operating with no clear leadership.

That's the conclusion of a new report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP, which said the program is "12 separate, but often interrelated, programs" involving "unprecedented scope, scale, and complexity."

Using the report as a starting place, a foundation-funded operation called Real Time Investigations decided to find out who was managing it all. Their discovery, at least so far: It's hard as heck to pin down.

"We continue to find that even some of the most elementary details about the program -- like who is actually managing distribution of the bailout money to financial institutions -- is still shrouded in secrecy," said the group, part of the Sunlight Foundation.

Writers describe how they reached out to a variety of agencies with something to do with TARP, seeking names of people involved in with program. They received decidedly mixed responses.

"The FDIC was actually more forthcoming with information than other agencies that review bank applications for TARP funds. For example, the one person I was able to contact at OTS (by no means the only person I tried to contact) agreed to speak, strictly on background, about the process and detailed information that banks have to submit, but declined to name people involved and said that most of the decisions were made by 'senior management.'

"Meanwhile, the composition of the TARP Investment Committee -- the body at Treasury that makes final determinations on TARP funds -- is changing. The Obama administration appointed Herbert M. Allison Jr. -- who ran Fannie Mae for the Bush administration after the government seized the troubled institution in 2008 -- to replace Neel Kashkari as assistant secretary for financial stability. Kashkari has been in that position since November 2008.

"Several of our calls and e-mails to Treasury's press offices remain unanswered and according to their Web site several of the positions in the public affairs office are still vacant. During one of my myriad attempts to get someone with the Office of Financial Stability to speak to, one of the operators said, 'there's no office yet, it's only a Web site.' And surely enough six months after the office was set up the Web site doesn't list any contact phone number but directs calls to Treasury's press office."

By Robert O'Harrow |  April 30, 2009; 4:59 PM ET Inspectors General , TARP
Previous: GAO: Soaring Use Of Contractors Puts DoD At Risk Of Fraud, Waste | Next: Government Turns Again To Cloud Computing


Please email us to report offensive comments.


Posted by: BOGGS_3 | May 1, 2009 11:25 AM

Transparency is what was needed to trace the channels of the distribution of the TARP from the federal sources of the money to the end users of the funds.
Government and the banks must publish the names of the individual businesses and home owners who have benefited from the original mortgage rescue bill. I have been looking for a single home owner that was benefited from the mortgage rescue bill the way it was described originally.
We must keep the people who authorized and handed out the money accountable and responsible for the results their actions produced.

Posted by: saeed11 | May 1, 2009 10:17 PM

Reasons why the bailout and rescue programs are not transparent: 1. it takes work and info mgt systems and procedures to make it so, and the stovepiped agencies and programs are not managed horizontally 2. got is dealthly afraid affecting stock prices, and knows that a blackout can also do the same, but on a lagged basis 3. banks, especially the weaker ones, claim the info is proprietary--some might be, but it has yet to be decided 4. the rights of the USG as a lender or shareholder are not yet fully establed, understood and tested--some officials in the Treasury and WH don't really want to make that too crisp. What is eery about the lack of transparency is that Congress is not pressing very hard for it. the reason possibly--it may make Congress appear more involved and culpable WRT the issues that crop up.

Posted by: axolotl | May 2, 2009 12:25 PM


What is so sad is that the media does not chorus: Theft, Theft ..

Years later books will appear pointing up the media's role of not
being a watchdog.

Posted by: 3rd-PartyAdovcate | May 4, 2009 4:45 PM


What is so sad is that the media does not chorus: Theft, Theft ..

Years later books will appear pointing up the media's role of not
being a watchdog.

Posted by: 3rd-PartyAdovcate | May 4, 2009 4:47 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company