WASHINGTON – A breakdown in oversight of trillions of dollars in economic aid was revealed to the public on Friday night when the Treasury Department’s Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery said in a report that his powers to Funds control had been slashed this week after a ruling by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Adviser.
Inspector General Brian D. Miller said in his quarterly report to Congress that he had been embroiled in a months-long dispute with another Inspector General in the Treasury Department over who had access to information and oversight. of the Payroll and Coronavirus Support Program. Relief fund. The programs were created as part of the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed in 2020 that provided cash to airline workers, states and cities.
The clash comes as the Biden administration oversees an additional $ 1.9 trillion in relief funds and demands $ 4 trillion in new spending on jobs and infrastructure programs. The wide spectrum of public spending is currently followed by a patchwork of oversight bodies and committees.
Miller’s office has tracked fraud and “double dipping” in relief programs, but its access to some databases began to be restricted last year during the later months of the then Trump administration. that the turf war between the inspectors general ensued. Mr Miller, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, referred the case to the Justice Department in early January, before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took office, to get a final ruling on the extent of his powers.
In the report, Miller hinted that “the temperature has cooled down with the surveillance” and stated categorically that “things are not working well”. He warned that this would have negative consequences.
“Unfortunately, many of these promising developments, including criminal investigations and leads, will now have to be closed or transferred,” Miller wrote.
Spokesmen for the White House and the Treasury Department did not immediately comment.
The report contained a letter responding to complaints from Mr Miller of Laurie Schaffer, the Treasury Department’s senior deputy general counsel, who said the ministry believed the special inspector general was only monitoring direct Treasury loans and investments. at the facilities of the Federal Reserve. She said the rest of the relief funds managed by the department were monitored by other oversight bodies, but the department had tried to cooperate nonetheless.
“Treasury is dedicated to preventing waste, fraud and abuse, and we are committed to being responsive and helpful to SIGPR,” Ms. Schaffer wrote in the April 27 letter using an abbreviation for Inspector General special.
Mr. Miller was Inspector General of the General Service Administration from 2005 to 2014. He was working as a lawyer in the White House when Mr. Trump asked him for his current position, and Democrats, who were concerned about the management of the Trump administration. relief funds, feared at the time that Mr. Miller would become a toothless Inspector General.
In the report released Friday, Miller lamented that oversight of major relief programs had been reduced and called on Congress to give his office greater authority.
“Congress may pass legislation to clarify SIGPR’s mandate to oversee the Coronavirus Relief Fund, Payroll Support Program, and other pandemic-related programs managed by the Secretary of the Treasury,” wrote M Miller. “We are asking Congress to do this.”