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Public Statements

Letter To Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senators Robert C. Byrd, and Thad Cochran

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Similar to an effort President-elect Barack Obama announced in a press event today, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill simultaneously requested that Senate leadership provide sufficient oversight and accountability measures and forgo pork barrel projects in any plans for an economic recovery package. McCaskill sent a letter to Senate leadership and the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, echoing Obama's call to keep earmarks out of the package and listing several provisions she would like to see included in the economic recovery package to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of taxpayer dollars.

"I believe these oversight measures, along with an earmark-free bill, are critical especially in light of the fact that this legislation will cost more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined," wrote McCaskill. "Government watchdogs would have the resources they need to do their jobs while project transparency would allow the public to hold the government accountable."

Specifically, McCaskill asked her colleagues to:

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Provide additional resources to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to allow them to better oversee the money spent under the economic stimulus bill.
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Provide additional resources for the Inspectors General that oversee formula, loan and grant programs receiving funding through the bill.
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Require for recipients of such funding to publicly list projects ahead of time, as well as make public performance measures appropriate for the funding, including jobs created or protected through an easily accessible public database.
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Forbid allowing the earmarking of funds for pet projects.

January 7, 2009

The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader Minority Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Chairman Byrd, and Ranking Member Cochran:

As you work with President-elect Obama to shape an economic recovery package, I write to ask that you include robust transparency, oversight, and accountability provisions.

The unprecedented size and nature of this economic recovery package calls for increased oversight and transparency. By including strong accountability provisions in the package, we can show the American public that Congress and the new Administration are taking every step possible to ensure that every taxpayer dollar will be spent on initiatives that are truly "stimulative" and merit-based. I recommend the legislation contain among its accountability measures the following:

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Resources for the Offices of Inspector General (OIG): Inspectors General are the taxpayers' first line of defense against wasteful spending within the agencies they oversee. With at least one-third of the up to $850 billion going to increased government spending, mostly to projects that are "shovel ready," it is important that the inspectors general have the resources necessary to conduct thorough oversight. Each OIG that oversees formula, loan and grant programs receiving funding in the economic recovery project should receive additional funding specifically for oversight of the administration and use of economic recovery dollars.
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Resources for the Government Accountability Office (GAO): In addition to the OIG, the GAO, Congress's investigative arm, also needs increased resources and authority to use its expertise. I request that any services GAO performs to oversee the use of funding included in the economic stimulus package be reimbursable. I also request that the economic recovery package includes additional funding for GAO to meet its fiscal year 2009 funding request of $545.5 million (a 7.4 percent increase), as well as any additional funding GAO needs to perform aggressive oversight.
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Requirements for Project Transparency: The economic recovery legislation should require formula, grant, or loan recipients to publicly list projects ahead of time, as well as report on performance measures appropriate for the funding, including jobs created or protected. Each agency should also provide a public database that contains similar information such as the identity of recipients of economic recovery funds, the purpose and funding amount of the project, and how many jobs the project creates. Making project lists and performance measures public will increase accountability at all levels of government.
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Rejection of Earmarks: I have been heartened to hear many of my colleagues and Obama transition officials say that this is not the time or place for earmarks. I urge you to reject earmarking of this legislation because any attempt to include pork barrel projects would only cast doubt on our mission to only provide funding for initiatives that are truly "stimulative" and merit-based.

Again, I believe these oversight measures, along with an earmark-free bill, are critical especially in light of the fact that this legislation will cost more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Government watchdogs would have the resources they need to do their jobs while project transparency would allow the public to hold the government accountable.

Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to working with you on this effort.

Sincerely,

CLAIRE MCCASKILL
United States Senator


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