Office of Inspector General

Post image for Treasury OIG: Watchdog Pussyfoots Around Solyndra Debacle

Earlier this week, the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an audit report on Treasury’s role in reviewing, in March 2009, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy in September 2011. Before going belly up, Solyndra burned through $528 million of the $535 million it received from Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank (FFB). Nearly all of the defaulted loan will be paid off by American taxpayers.

An agency’s OIG is supposed to be a watchdog guarding the public fisc from waste, fraud, and abuse. Watchdogs bark and even bite. This watchdog pussyfoots.

The title of the audit report is “Consultation on Solyndra Loan Guarantee Was Rushed.” Well, it was that. Treasury signed off on the Solyndra loan guarantee only two days after being asked on March 17, 2009 to vet it so that DOE could issue a press release touting the loan on the morning of March 20.

A more accurate title would be “Consultation on Solyndra Loan Guarantee Was Half-Assed.” Granted, government reports must eschew the use of idiomatic pejoratives. Nonetheless, the OIG did not have to make excuses for Treasury and DOE. The report ascribes to regulatory vagueness derelictions more reasonably attributed to negligence, incompetence, and pliancy in the face of political pressure.     [click to continue…]