The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) injected previously unthinkable amounts of stimulus funds into the struggling U.S. economy. To oversee the disbursement of these funds and to curb fraud and misuse, the CARES Act created various oversight and enforcement mechanisms. Notable among these is the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR). As we explained in a recent post, the SIGPR is conferred broad powers to audit and investigate waste, fraud and abuse involving hundreds of billions of dollars in CARES Act funds. Additional primary oversight bodies include the Congressional Oversight Commission and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).
While arguably the most significant oversight leadership position, the SIGPR remains vacant; however, that may not be the case for much longer. President Trump’s pick for the SIGPR role, Brian D. Miller, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate – although Miller’s confirmation hearings were held on May 5 and his nomination was advanced to the Senate floor on May 12. The actions of similar special inspectors general offices, and in particular that established to oversee the stimulus package Congress passed after the 2008 financial crisis (the Special Investigator General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or SIGTARP), suggest the office of the SIGPR will be particularly aggressive in pursuing fraud and misuse related to disbursed CARES Act funds. Yet, even if the Senate confirms Miller soon, considerable time may pass before the Office of the SIGPR can bring to bear its full investigative and audit powers. After all, the Office of the SIGPR is not yet in existence and should Miller, who served as the GSA Inspector General from 2005 through 2014, be confirmed, he will need to lay the agency’s operational groundwork from scratch, including hiring a full staff of employees (Miller expects to hire 75-100 employees), securing office space, and equipping the office, etc.