Bush names officials to oversee rescue plans

President George W. Bush has named two inspectors general to be responsible for oversight of financial and housing rescue plans designed to ease some of the economic upheaval caused by troubled mortgages and the ensuing credit crunch.

The officials were named Nov. 14, and he Senate is moving on the nomination of Neil Barofsky to be special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the Treasury Department. He currently serves as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and chief of the Mortgage Fraud Group. The Senate Finance Committee said today it plans to consider Barofsky’s nomination.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 requires a special IG to protect taxpayer interests and guard against waste, fraud and abuse in the Treasury’s new financial rescue program, said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), committee chairman.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money has already been sent out the door for this financial rescue. This effort urgently needs the stronger oversight and increased accountability that the special inspector general can provide,” Baucus said in a statement.

The special IG will be independent from the Treasury Department, with funding and full authority to audit and investigate, he said. The special IG must provide an initial report to Congress in 60 days of confirmation, Baucus said.

The president also chose Steve Linick to be IG of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in the Housing and Urban Development Department. Linick currently serves as executive director of the National Procurement Fraud Initiative and Task Force and as acting deputy chief of the Fraud Section at the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency was established under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act passed in July. In September, the housing finance agency took over as conservator for mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced an effort on Nov. 11 aimed at reducing preventable foreclosures with a streamlined loan modification program to put struggling homeowners into mortgages that they can afford, said James Lockhart, FHFA director. The program brings together the efforts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD’s Hope Now program and its lending partners, HUD’s Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal Housing Administration, FHFA and the Treasury Department, he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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