On March 27, President Trump signed into law the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The law, the most expensive single piece of legislation ever passed, includes hundreds of billions in funds to help businesses remain afloat. To provide oversight into how these funds are used, the CARES Act establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), along with two other oversight bodies.
This action is not without precedent, as Congress established a similar watchdog to oversee the stimulus funds disbursed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). SIGTARP’s broad interpretation of its mandate, as well as its aggressive pursuit of fraud involving stimulus funds, are instructive to forecasting how SIGPR will fulfill its mission and to how recipients of CARES Act funds can protect themselves.
SIGPR Duties & Powers
The CARES Act tasks the SIGPR with monitoring fraud, waste and abuse involving the $500 billion of CARES Act funds allocated to the Treasury Secretary (Economic Stabilization Fund) to support businesses, states and municipalities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SIGPR, who will be appointed by the president and requires Senate confirmation, will be empowered to “conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments” relating to the Economic Stabilization Fund.