On TARP, Transparency and Technology

January 29, 2009
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Where has the taxpayers’ money gone?

With a standing-room-only crowd of Teradata colleagues, I watched President Obama’s inauguration with great interest.  The room was full of expectation for a new era.  Watching this enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but think that Teradata can help the government deliver on its promise.

As officers and employees of a technology company, we’ve certainly noticed how the new administration embraces technology, from the weekly Web addresses to the president’s Blackberry to the executive order for greater transparency that includes using the Web to report directly to the American people. 

Add to this the fact that Teradata helps companies around the world find new ways of seeing their business through integrated, enterprise data and making that data available to everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.  And it’s not surprising that we have some suggestions on how the public sector can also exploit technology for smarter decisions and greater transparency.  

Take the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), for example.  Sophisticated data consolidation and analysis technology exists today and can be used to create a

Where has the taxpayers’ money gone?

With a standing-room-only crowd of Teradata colleagues, I watched President Obama’s inauguration with great interest.  The room was full of expectation for a new era.  Watching this enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but think that Teradata can help the government deliver on its promise.

As officers and employees of a technology company, we’ve certainly noticed how the new administration embraces technology, from the weekly Web addresses to the president’s Blackberry to the executive order for greater transparency that includes using the Web to report directly to the American people. 

Add to this the fact that Teradata helps companies around the world find new ways of seeing their business through integrated, enterprise data and making that data available to everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.  And it’s not surprising that we have some suggestions on how the public sector can also exploit technology for smarter decisions and greater transparency.  

Take the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), for example.  Sophisticated data consolidation and analysis technology exists today and can be used to create a database that provides a complete picture of the TARP funds with the goal of creating an efficient mechanism for Congressional oversight, audits and investigations.

Based on what is known about TARP, there are a number of obstacles making it hard to answer the simple question: What’s happened with the taxpayers’ money?

  • Financial data related to TARP is presented in filings to various agencies including the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, Treasury and more.   

  • The data sources required to enable transparency are housed in various separate agencies, systems and formats. 

  • Corporate press releases, news articles, indexes, corporate profiles, and other non-government financial information deliver additional insight into usage. 

Combining government data with detailed third-party data into one database would create a complete profile of each institution’s financial use of TARP funds.  Such a database can also provide the ability to monitor inconsistencies and oversight in near real time or at least on a monthly basis.

This type of system is necessary not only to ensure transparency, but also to provide one consolidated view into the uses of TARP to reassure the American people that our government will, with confidence, be able to answer the question:  Where has the taxpayers’ money gone?

Darryl McDonald
CMO, Teradata

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