NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The officials charged with overseeing the $700 billion financial bailout told lawmakers Tuesday that the Treasury Department must do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are properly spent and that the public is kept in the loop.
The officials were particularly angered about a lack of accounting for the sprawling program, complaining that Treasury didn't make any effort to monitor money that went to the 364 banks its has invested in, despite requests for information by oversight panels.
"Either you get Treasury to get some religion on this point and get some standards ... or Congress [will be] forced to step in," said Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
The office of Inspector General for the TARP program, one of the oversight groups, did its own survey of banks that received money, and every bank that got money responded.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general, said that some banks "co-mingled" their bailout money and couldn't break out exactly what it was used for. But other banks kept their TARP money separate and could point to new loans that had been issued due to government help.
"Some banks described some lending programs that couldn't be done without TARP funding," Barofsky said.