Jenner & Block

Partner Neil Barofsky Looks Ahead to Challenges Facing the Special Inspector General of the Coronavirus Stimulus Package

In a wide-ranging Q&A with The National Law Journal, Mr. Barofsky recalls his time as special inspector general of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the economic bailout from the last recession.  Now, the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package calls for creating a similar role, a presidentially appointed watchdog who will be tasked with overseeing the US Department of Treasury Department’s spending in the pandemic recovery.  “Getting the right person is important because, on the one hand, you can’t have somebody who’s so rigid and so dogmatic that they reject everything that the department is proposing as being not safe. That’s not good. On the other hand, you have to have some steel in your spine,” he observes.  Mr. Barofsky shares insight on qualifications the new special inspector general should have and how the office will affect the legal industry. Asked for his thoughts on the difference between success and failure in the oversight role, he offers: “What the oversight entities can do, more than anything, is provide that bright, bright shining light of transparency, because that is what will keep the government honest.”