WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, government accountability experts from Accountable.US, a nonpartisan watchdog group that exposes corruption across all levels of government, American Oversight, and Project on Government Oversight (POGO) discussed how Congress must redesign any new small business relief measure so that it is transparent, data-driven, and aligned with the needs of the communities that need the help the most.
In a press call, Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, discussed how the Trump administration’s poorly designed and poorly implemented Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allowed big corporations to exploit the program with little oversight, while mom-and-pop shops were shut out and closed down. Austin R. Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight, and Liz Hempowicz, Director of Public Policy at Project on Government Oversight, also discussed how the next iteration of the PPP must be grounded in transparency and accountability.
The call comes after Herrig and Marie Johns, former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining the core principles needed to make the next PPP package sustainable and effective.
“With next to no accountability or transparency measures in place, the public has been shut out of this process and left in the dark about where our taxpayer dollars are going. This is unacceptable,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Enforceable transparency and oversight measures must be included in any new legislation. Disclosure requirements for all aid recipients must be made available to the public.”
“Even without complete data, it’s clear that the Paycheck Protection Program has not been administered in a way that prioritizes those who are likely hit hardest by the coronavirus,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at Project on Government Oversight. “Rather than fighting the release of this information, the administration should have been working to ensure that the banks issuing these forgivable loans had adequate guidance to responsibly spend hundreds of billions of public dollars.”
“Given the administration’s recalcitrance, Congress should step in and legislate clear and firm transparency requirements. The goal should be as close to an open source PPP as possible,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Congress should make crystal clear that the PRAC, Congressional Oversight Commission, and Congress itself are entitled to raw data — and that loan recipients are required to provide it. In addition to ensuring we collect better information from new loan applicants, Congress should take steps to ensure we get data on the backend once companies start applying for loan forgiveness.”