Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Transparency is an Essential Part of COVID Money Oversight

Aug 26, 2020 | Other Spending

For Immediate Release

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a group of federal inspectors general charged with overseeing the use of COVID-19 relief funds, is seeking data from the Small Business Administration on all borrowers under the Paycheck Protection Program that received more than $25,000. Below is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Approximately $530 billion of potentially forgivable loans have been issued through the Paycheck Protection Program, and it’s critical that oversight officials and the public have access to information that can help determine whether taxpayer dollars were used effectively.

While the program appears to have been successful in boosting small business liquidity during the downturn, there is still more to learn about how these funds were spent.

Thus far, SBA has disclosed the names of businesses that received loans of more than $150,000 – which covers nearly three-quarters of the money but only one-seventh of the recipients. Some information does exist for the remaining loans, such as state and industry, but additional data would allow for a more thorough analysis of the program’s impact.

Policymakers should take privacy concerns into account. However, SBA ought to coordinate with the accountability committee to make as much information as possible available to the public and to those conducting oversight. It will aid lawmakers in the design of future fiscal relief packages and allow research groups such as ours to better track how much money has gone out the door and where it goes through our COVID Money Tracker.

The public deserves to know that aid is going where it is intended, and policymakers must have the data available to understand what is working and what is not. A lack of transparency will undermine public support for current and future rescue efforts.

Transparency is key to providing both accountability and lessons about what works and what doesn’t. Why would we deny ourselves that important information?

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For more information, please contact John Buhl, director of media relations, at buhl@crfb.org.