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tv   Washington Journal Nicole Clowers  CSPAN  July 7, 2020 3:02pm-3:13pm EDT

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government, specifically required i us to provide ongoing oversight of the governments efforts to prepare for, respond to and recover from covid-19. it includes a requirement for us to assess the impact of covid-19 on public health as well as the economy as well as track the funding and the use of that funding. the act requires us to report every 60 days starting 90 days after an accident. -- enactment. we will be issuing additional reports every other month term basically as soon as this legislation is signed and inactive and signed, the gao is monitoring its spending? >> guest: absolutely. where providing real-time oversight of the funds and we have experience doing this. going back over a decade ago, for example, under the troubled
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asset relief program that provided assistance to the financial sector after the global financial crisis, we were required to provide ongoing oversight and issue a report every 60 days. we have experience and we have built on that experience to hit the ground running to provide immediate oversight and help ensure accountability and transparency how the funds are being used. >> host: let's look at the overall numbers, 2.57 trillion in spending and the measures passed by congress come here are the figures on each of those packages. the ppe, paycheck protection program, 670 billion, the treasured the treasure economic0 stabilization fund 500 billion, expand unemployment insurance 375 billion, the economic impact payments, 282 billion, public health emergency funding to 132 billion, and 150 billion from the cares act, the relief
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for state and local governments. ofof that, 2.57 trillion, nicole clowers, how much hasot been spt already? >> guest: about $677 billion. that's what we found in our collection of data. unfortunately, at treasury and omb of not released over all spending data yet. under omb guidance, agencies are to report on their care spending, starting at the end of june. we expect the overall spending data to be available starting probably at the end of july and august timeframe. in the absence of comprehensive the data, we undertook our own efforts to collect what was known about spending, so we collected spending information on the six largest areas that you just mentioned as well as other federal agencies.
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wer found about $677 million hs been extended and about $1.3 billion has been obligated. that means the government has committed to spend those funds. >> host: have the money is spent with the gao's nicole clowers, their healthcare team manager. we welcome your comments at 202-748-8000 eastern/central time zones. i have to imagine that keeping track of 2.5 million is hard enough. what were the challenges of tracking $2.57 trillion worth of spending? you mention it's not all spent yet, and how much staff does this entail? >> guest: it is challenging providing real-time oversight as you can imagine, as agencies are standing up programs. they are figuring. out how to
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establish the programs, how to track their own spending, and so that requires us to be agile and nimble and work with the agencies to keep up to date on the latest development. it requires us to work around the clock frankly to track the dollars, make sure we have a good understanding so we can provide that information to policymakers and the public. >> host: what were some of thehe significant issues or problems you found in the way the money is being spent? >> guest: one of the things we highlighted in report is program integrity issues, that's risk of improper payments for fraud. that really stems from the fact how quickly the programs were stood up. on the one hand, the federal
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government -- the workforce should really be applauded for how quickly they want. they were working very diligently as well to stand up these programs to get funds out the door. for example, with the stimulus check as well as the paycheck protection program. working very quickly to stand up those programs. but in doing so there's a trade-off between getting funds out the door quickly, standing up programs very quickly with ensuring appropriate safeguards are inrd place. we found that in making this decision, there were some trade-offs in terms oftr safeguards, for example, in the paycheck protection program. one of the things that we noted in the report is that it relied on borrowers to self certify their eligibility. this helped speed the funds
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going out the door but as we report in the past when you rely on self certification, that raises the potential for fraudsters to take advantage of theke program. >> host: and how prevalent was the issue of fraud, both in that specific case, in the paycheck protection program, and more broadly in the other measures that you surveyed in your oversight? >> guest: we are still doing work right now. we've ongoing work looking at issues of fraud and improper payments. certainly our past work would indicate when you have programs of this size, the speed in which they are moving, it raises or it creates a high risk for program integrity issues and that's why we raise the red flag right now and asking recommendations in this area, for example, with the paycheck protection program recommended they develop a a pn to identify these risks and address them.
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in other areas such as the unemployment insurance, we meet another recommendation for the department of labor to work with states to help address the potential program integrity issue. and so we are making recommendations to help address these issues real-time. that's the advantage of us reporting on a regular ongoing basis is that we can make the recommendations on the force corrections so agencies can simply adjust and address issues as we see them, and then prevent future policy problems down the road. >> host: our viewers and listeners can read the report and highly some what you're talking right there, if we can zoom in on this very brief timeline of the paycheck protection program starting in march of this year 2020, basically through now to the end of june come all of the events
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that are happening including the lapse in appropriations on the april 16, in places where gao and the guidelines are regulations have been posted in this very brief time, and the total spent or the total i should say appropriated for the ppp was initially 150 billion, correct? >> guest: the ppp program, it was more than that. to date, the government has, through the banks, the banks have provided 4.6 million loans totaling about $512 billion. i think that graphic you are highlighting is a good one. it shows again that trade-off being made when you stand up a program very quickly. again, the goal was to help get the money quickly out to the businesses to help shore up
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their finances during the economic downturn. but there's a trade-off, and so as the graphic illustrates, the guidance that they were providing to the lenders and borrowers were evolving as they were in permitting the program, as they were learning more about the program and adjusting rules based on the questions that were being asked. as a result you see this in the graph and evolving set of guidance over the past couple of months which has led to confusion among lenders and borrowers in terms of eligibility and loan forgivenes forgiveness. >> host: we have calls waiting for nicole clowers to talk about the oversight of this spending. tom is joining us from hampton, connecticut. good morning. >> caller: good morning. how are you asked my question is this. messaging, i hope there's funding going towards a clear message. in the beginning they were using
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face masks at the recommendation was you don't want to wear them all the time. that's got it straightened out. they about spacing distance and wearing face masks. another problem is if somebody is, to were three people in a crowd talking or singing or whatever, people shouldn't walk through that airspace for a second, you know, a little bit of time. there should be a a coherent message and hopefully funding to pay for it. that's my message. >> host: more broadly, on messaging what recommendations did you provide? did gao provide for future spending? >> guest: i appreciate that callers, and actually it goes to one of come in the report -- >> thank you very much. it's an h


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