New Recovery Chair Describes Her Dedication To Transparency and Accountability in Government
The following post was written by Kathleen S. Tighe, the Chair of the Recovery Board and the Inspector General for the Department of Education
Challenges keep you on your toes. In two decades in government, I’ve had plenty of them, serving in law enforcement-related positions at the Department of Justice, the General Services Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education.
Last month, President Obama handed me a new—and exciting—challenge: He selected me to serve as Chair of the Recovery Board, the independent agency that oversees the $840 billion economic stimulus program approved by Congress nearly three years ago. It’s a big job, something I know from personal experience as a member of the Recovery Board since April 2010.
The Recovery Act requires the Board to post detailed spending information on Recovery.gov and to provide oversight so that the funds aren’t wasted or stolen. In a nutshell, that means we need to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers.
I can assure you of my long commitment to government openness and accountability. I work for the taxpayers—not the other way around—and I wake up every morning feeling that I can make a difference. I felt that way the first day I walked into the Department of Justice in 1988 to begin serving as a trial attorney in the Fraud Section of the Commercial Litigation Branch. And I did make a difference, settling multi-million dollar cases that benefitted taxpayers.
My work as the Education IG should also give you a good idea of the way I think. From the time I first took that job 22 months ago, I have made it clear that no one—no individual, no company—is above scrutiny. Under my watch, the IG’s office has saved taxpayers millions of dollars by pursuing settlements and other actions against those who sought to defraud taxpayers.
The Recovery Board has a different oversight function. It does not conduct investigations. However, our analysts use sophisticated IT tools, housed in a facility known as the Recovery Operations Center, to pinpoint irregularities in Recovery Act contracts, grants and loans issued by federal agencies. The findings are sent to the IGs who oversee the 28 agencies that issue awards and serve as the basis for audits and investigations.
In its short history, the Board has been hailed for its commitment to accountability and transparency. Rest assured that those good government practices will be continued during my time as Chair.