In an effort to track the trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief spending and “promote transparency” in the federal response, The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency on Monday launched a website.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who chairs the council, announced the website launch and its new Twitter account, @COVID_Oversight.
The website, which he called a “one-stop shop for oversight reports,” provides the public with resources about the federal government’s pandemic spending, including how the funds are allocated. It will also post oversight reports published by the inspectors general overseeing their agencies’ response to the pandemic, and a list of ongoing pandemic-related work by inspectors general across the federal government.
The website also promotes a hotline, where individuals can submit allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or whistleblower reports, as well as a form where individuals can submit feedback on the federal government’s response to COVID-19.
Horowitz also appointed Robert Westbrooks to serve as the executive director of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), which was created under the more than $2.2 trillion CARES Act package passed last month.
“Today’s launch of the PRAC’s website is the first of many steps that the PRAC will take to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Horowitz said in a statement Monday. “As soon as the PRAC obtains spending information and other reporting data, we will be adding it to the website and the public can follow our efforts through our new Twitter feed, @COVID_Oversight.”
The website, according to Horowitz, will be regularly updated as oversight work is announced and completed by the PRAC, individual inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office.
The launch of the website comes as Congress has implemented several avenues to conduct oversight of the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.
Last week, the House approved the creation of a committee, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., to oversee the federal response, even as Republicans blasted the idea as politically motivated and argued Democrats would use it as a forum to attack the president.
Pelosi said the committee was designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery. She compared the panel to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.
“Again, this isn’t about assigning blame,” Pelosi said on the House floor Thursday. “It’s about taking responsibility.”
Pelosi added that the committee “will ensure the historic investment of taxpayer dollars are being used wisely and efficiently and nobody is ripping us off.”
And earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also announced their intention to create a 9/11-style commission, set to launch in February 2021 “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.”
That commission would be granted subpoena power to compel cooperation from federal, state and local government officials, as it examines government preparedness in advance of the pandemic.