Real compliance or just plain paranoia?

Well friends,

I come to you again with my stories from the trenches and queries to stimulate your thinking.

There is lots of news about the current administration’s intent to apply sound stewardship to funds appropriated in the the most recent spending bills, i.e. (ARRA) American Recovery & Reinvestement Act of 2009, (TARP) Troubled Asset Relief Program (I & II), and (HERA) Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Each of those legislations asked for more meaningful oversight of federal funds.

Inside the agencies there is a lot of rhetoric about intent for meaningful oversight, but at the same time there is just as much political flexing of rules to keep constituents calm…

However, there are some rumbling, only a few, but a start…

I believe it is long overdue. Can we rely on the momentum of this administration to move us to a responsible compliance and enforcement posture for federal programs? Here are two of the more recent examples (I hope to see more from different agencies):

About 20 probes of bailout under way
Matt Kelley writes for USA Today.
April 21, 2009

A government watchdog has launched “almost 20” criminal investigations related to the $700 billion financial bailout program, according to a report to Congress to be released today…

You can use the story listed below, from today’s (4-27-09) Wall Street Journal as an example of how current federal regulations probably did not serve the public’s interests. The states (49 plus the District of Columbia) plan to bring an action in Federal court asking that large/national banks adhere to state rules instead of the OCC – Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The states allege the OCC stood by and watched a significant part of the mortgage crisis occur, and unwittingly allowed the banks and mortgage industry to run roughshod over consumers.

APRIL 27, 2009
Next Case: State vs. Federal Power
Justices to Rule if U.S. Treasury Can Shield National Banks From New York LawsArticle
WASHINGTON — Four years ago, Eliot Spitzer, then the New York attorney general, asked several national banks to explain why they were disproportionately charging blacks and Hispanics high interest rates.

Instead of an answer, he got a lawsuit. The banks, and the Treasury Department agency that regulates them, persuaded federal courts to bar the state attorney general from enforcing New York antidiscrimination laws…

I believe timely and assertive enforcement is long overdue, but is part of this movement reactionary with no real intent to make sound and timely regulatory oversight a norm?

Is it a reaction to tough economic times?

Is it simply a ploy to calm a restless (and penniless) population, so that real poor versus rich riots don’t break out? LOL!

Without support for proactive compliance efforts, fair oversight strategies, and timely regulatory reforms, we will simply chase some industries around for a few years until the economy rebounds or another crisis takes its place.

We may miss a legitimate opportunity for regulatory reform and compliance enhancements throughout the entire federal system. Good regulatory oversight serves Main street as well as Wall Street.

Over the last nine months two U.S. Presidents have put into circulation over a one trillion dollars.

Those stimulus funds cannot and will not work properly if they are not managed with a concern towards appropriate use and benefit to intended populations. I believe good regulations and solid compliance can help with that effort.

In my work, I am confronted with the constraints of lax regulations and agency agendas that don’t lend themselves to stern compliance. I long for more teeth and less talk…

Let me know what you think; especially if you work in the federal service administering some type of compliance, regulatory oversight, or program management. I value your input… Speak up, so that I can hear you!

the Pragmatic Bohemian

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