Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued GAO-09-658, its 5th report on the status of efforts to address transparency and accountability of Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. This report is part of a series of reports under Section 106 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which requires a GAO report on TARP every 60 days.

This latest report follows up on the six specific recommendations to Treasury in the GAO's March 2009 report, as well as recommendations from earlier reports, in order to "continue to identify areas that warrant ongoing attention and focus." The report also reviews (i) activities that had been initiated or completed under TARP as of June 12, 2009; (ii) the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Stability’s (OFS) hiring efforts and use of contractors; and (3) TARP performance indicators.

The GAO recommends that Treasury take the following five actions as it continues to improve TARP and make it more accountable and transparent:

  1. TARP Warrant Valuation - "Ensure that the warrant valuation process maximizes benefits to taxpayers and consider publicly disclosing additional details regarding the warrant repurchase process, such as the initial price offered by the issuing entity and Treasury’s independent valuations, to demonstrate Treasury’s attempts to maximize the benefit received for the warrants on behalf of the taxpayer."
  2. TARP CPP Repurchases - "In consultation with the Chairmen of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Acting Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, ensure generally consistent criteria by the primary federal regulators when considering repurchase decisions under TARP."
  3. Communication - "Fully implement a communication strategy that ensures that all key congressional stakeholders are adequately informed and kept up to date about TARP."
  4. Financialstability.gov -"Expedite efforts to conduct usability testing to measure the quality of users’ experiences with the financial stability Web site and measure customer satisfaction with the site, using appropriate tools such as online surveys, focus groups, and e-mail feedback forms."
  5. Cost Disclosure - "Explore options for providing to the public more detailed information on the costs of TARP contracts and agreements, such as a dollar breakdown of obligations and/or expenses."