Technology for Tracking TARP Dollars Exists, Is Tested and Is Ready to Go
A bipartisan group of lawmakers supports legislation that would establish a database of economic bailout information to track, monitor and manage the $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. [IMGCAP(1)]We applaud the efforts of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) for sponsoring H.R. 1242 and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) for introducing a companion bill in the Senate, S. 910. In addition, we would like to thank Chairman Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and ranking member Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) for their leadership in holding a hearing recently in the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing, titled “Utilizing Technology to Improve TARP and Financial Oversight,— shed light on the importance of data and data analytics.H.R. 1242 would require the Treasury Department to deliver continuous, real-time updates on the status of bailout funds in a centralized database to provide true transparency. Such detailed reporting could support TARP and allow data analysts and government specialists to instantly detect possible systemic risk, waste, fraud and abuse in the future — using software alert notifications and predictive analytics for preventing potential economic disaster. Currently, information regarding TARP funds has been spread across 25 federal agencies that are using incompatible formats and isolated databases. This makes it very difficult for government officials or taxpayers to gain an understanding of how TARP funds are being used and allocated. The technology proposed in H.R. 1242 would provide powerful new visibility that would benefit everyone — Congress and taxpayers alike.True transparency and accountability require the integration of frequently-updated information from multiple sources into one centralized, immediately accessible database. This type of technology is what the best companies in every industry have been embracing for years. We call it business intelligence. Such a system would deliver timely, relevant and valuable insight to the financial oversight process, allowing regulators to head off potential problems before they become big enough to threaten the system.Gathering, integrating and centralizing the right information and making sense of it is certainly a top priority. Intelligence begins with the integrity of information in the database. Financial oversight of the scope and depth required depends on a realistic grasp of the big picture — supported by enough detail to bring attention to potential issues. This requirement would be met with the deployment of an enterprise data warehouse, which would track all data movement to and from banks and the extended TARP network while providing continuous updates to the approved users. We encourage Congress to pass legislation and establish a database that represents the very best of today’s information technology. True transparency for effective financial oversight depends on it.Tim Day is vice president of government affairs for Teradata Corporation. Dilip Krishna is vice president of financial services and insurance for Teradata.