“I am very concerned that it will have a chilling effect,” said Cynthia Schnedar, who has served as deputy inspector general and acting inspector general at the Justice Department. “I don’t think the firings are going to scare most IGs. They will do their jobs, but he can pick them off one by one.”

Paycheck Protection Program
The watchdog panel, known as PRAC, has started dozen of audits and investigations and has begun to publish initial findings about problems with the Paycheck Protection Program’s distribution of small business loans and potential fraud related to unemployment benefits.

However, new guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget could keep the panel from getting much of the information Congress said must be made public. The law says recipients of at least $150,000 in stimulus money should report details on how they spent the money, but an OMB memo said that additional reporting wasn’t “necessary to meet the requirements.”

The watchdog panel said in a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that OMB’s guidance would keep PRAC from getting the “the breadth and depth” of data needed to oversee the “full range of programs” it’s supposed to study. OMB said in a statement it is working the PRAC and agency inspectors general to ensure proper reporting and transparency.

The Government Accountability Office also has been auditing stimulus spending, but it has been unable to get Treasury Department data about hundreds of billions of dollars of small business loans for a report due by the end of the month.

The inspectors general dismissed by Trump include those at the departments of State, Defense, Transportation and Health and Human Services. That has raised concerns from both parties in Congress that there may be more firings.

“Inspector general is a really weird job,” Barofsky said. “It’s one of the only jobs where you serve at pleasure of the president, but part of the job description is to cause displeasure.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

First « 1 2 3 » Next