On November 10, the Congressional Oversight Panel for Economic Stabilization, charged with reviewing the government's $700 billion financial industry rescue plan, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), released a report questioning whether the Treasury Department has mishandled TARP funds. While the Congressional Oversight Panel’s report offers no conclusions or specific allegations, it contains a number of suggestions for the Treasury.

The report sets forth a view that the Treasury should do more to help prevent foreclosures, and asserts that the Treasury needs to be more transparent about how it is spending taxpayer money. The report argues that the public should know what, if any, conditions have been placed on institutions receiving taxpayer money, and how the Treasury determines which institutions will receive TARP funds. The panel also states in the report that, in the context of consumer credit, it is important to ask the Treasury what restrictions will be placed on credit issuers to ensure that tax dollars are not used to subsidize predatory lending practices. The report also notes that the Treasury needs to be cognizant of the challenges still to come as it spends TARP funds.

The report comes as the Bush administration is considering whether to seek access to the second half of the $700 billion in TARP funds.