IMPACT: Obama orders up government-wide accountability board

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Stimulus watchdog Earl Devaney

Jasmine Norwood

Vice President Joe Biden announced the formation of a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board which will be tasked with tracking all federal spending, a move that could save tens of millions of tax dollars a year.

The 11-member board will be modeled after the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which tracked spending in the $787 billion federal stimulus program and posted that information on the website www.recovery.gov.

Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Board, told iWatch News last week that he had recommended a government-wide accountability board to Biden. Devaney said he thought it could save about $50 million a year by consolidating the data collection and display processes in 25 to 30 different agencies that currently cost more than $100 million a year.

The Recovery Board required stimulus recipients to submit regular reports documenting their use of funds and trained more than 130,000 government employees in fraud prevention. Devaney said the board’s transparency held fraud in the stimulus program to a minimum—only 144 convictions for $2 million worth of fraud.

Biden praised the efforts of the Recovery Board, which he said prevented misuse of stimulus funds by “shining this very bright spotlight on the abusers so they don’t even try.”

The Accountability and Transparency Board, established in an executive order by President Obama, will be made up of agency IGs and chief financial officers or deputy secretaries and a senior official of the Office of Management and Budget.

“It’s about changing the culture of the way we do business in the federal government,” Biden said.

The board will have six months to develop guidelines and report them to the president. It will also provide the vice president with monthly updates on its progress.

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