Treasury grapples with devising systems for TARP

The Treasury Department is trying to identify the requirements for applications it will need to track how banks and financial institutions use the funds from the government’s financial rescue program, according to a department official.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently announced a revamped version of the Troubled Asset Relief Program but has not released details. The Bush administration used one half, or $350 billion, of the TARP program. The Obama administration has pledged to better account for its half of the program.

Diane Litman, Treasury’s associate chief information officer for planning and management, said the CIO has been speaking with members of the TARP staff and other involved department bureaus, such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, to understand their requirements and ultimately to integrate a set of requirements for the applications or systems they need.

“What they’re going to need are systems that help them to keep track of the money, how it’s being spent, analyzing how successfully that money is being spent, and have they used the money to ease the credit crunch and to what extent,” she said Feb. 19 at an industry event sponsored by Mountaintop Marketing Group.

The CIO is collaborating with the TARP officials, the Federal Reserve and some of the agencies involved in the economic recovery activities to try to figure out to share information with each other in a secure way when data is transmitted between a government and nongovernment entity, Litman said.

“It’s frustrating that there aren’t simple solutions,” she said. Developing applications for TARP reporting and accountability is a complex problem, and Treasury must act fast to implement the financial rescue package, she noted.

“We have to try to figure how to be smarter about what contracts we put in place so we can leverage them more quickly and help the TARP people spin on a dime,” Litman said.

Treasury has begun posting information about TARP at a public Web site at www.financialstability.gov. All information disclosed or reported to Treasury by institutions receiving capital would be posted there, Geithner said when he announced the retooled TARP program earlier this month. Treasury would regularly update metrics that demonstrate the effect of the financial stability plan on credit markets, he said.

Treasury is preparing to proceed with the solicitations for two important IT modernization projects. The department will release in March its request for proposals to implement the department’s enterprise content management services for automated document and records management to vendors on the Total Information Processing Support Services (TIPSS) contract vehicle.

Later in the spring, Treasury plans to release an RFP for the modernization of its top-secret Treasury Foreign Intelligence Network (TFIN) used in tracking terrorist financing, on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site or through the General Services Administration, Litman said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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