On March 27th, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) became law. It allocated $2 trillion in relief for private businesses, public health, and individuals in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
Our long experience with national emergencies has taught us that some will attempt to profit from others’ misfortune and divert large sums away from the coronavirus response. Now more than ever, with millions of lives and livelihoods at stake, it’s essential that taxpayer dollars go to public health and other authorized purposes.
To ensure this accountability, Congress created a position for the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) to investigate and audit the new financial assistance program.
This position bears key similarities to another special inspector general position, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). In 2008, as the U.S. faced a global economic crisis, Congress authorized major spending to bail out key industries and the SIGTARP to oversee it.
However, there is a major difference between these two positions. The new SIGPR doesn’t have the authority to expedite hiring and contracting, which is crucial in setting up an office quickly.
On May 18th, a critical piece of legislation was introduced in the Senate by a bipartisan group to remedy this issue: The Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery Expedited Hiring Authority Act. This Act will expedite the SIGPR’s hiring and contracting authority as well as allow them to use volunteers and detailed employees from other government agencies.
If we want this special inspector general to succeed in keeping coronavirus spending accountable, they need this authority – and they need it now. That’s why the National Whistleblower Center has released an action alert supporting this Act.
“This bill empowers the Special Inspector General to hire competent staffers at a time when getting coronavirus funds to at-risk Americans and stopping fraudulent diversions is a top priority,” said NWC Executive Director, John Kostyack. “This bill will provide whistleblowers with public servants they can contact to stop these frauds.”
The success of the CARES Act is counting on this critical piece of legislation. Urge your Senators to lend their support today.