Money Trail

Meet the Federal Bailout’s Penny-Pinching Watchdog

With more than $3 trillion slated for dispersal by the federal government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, keeping track of the checkbook is an ambitious undertaking. Neil Barofsky has led the team keeping tabs on the TARP since he was appointed as the special inspector general by President George W. Bush in 2008. He has spearheaded innovation in the process by focusing on transparency, saying at last year’s NYU Global Economic Policy Forum and Law Alumni Association Fall Lecture, “When I came on board on December 15, 2008, within eight days I made a recommendation that Treasury start requiring TARP recipients to report on how they were using the funds,” which both the Bush and Obama administration has rejected. Not that that has stifled his resolve. Barofsky, a former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York’s Southern district, and a staff of 118 has conducted nine audits of TARP spending, initiated dozens of fraud investigations and penned thousands of pages of reports to Congress (on which the motto “Advancing economic stability through transparency, coordinated oversight, and robust enforcement” was emblazoned).