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Politics & Government

Pennsylvania Auditor General Calls For More Oversight On Pandemic Relief Money

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Matt Rourke
/
AP
Pennsylvania auditor general Timothy DeFoor asked state legislators on Thursday to put plans in place to prevent misuse of federal pandemic relief money.

The American Rescue Plan will distribute billions of dollars to states to boost economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania expects to receive about $55 billion in federal aid. Now, some Pennsylvania Republicans are calling for more oversight to prevent misuse of funds.

“These are taxpayer dollars,” Pennsylvania auditor general Timothy DeFoor said Thursday. “And once this money is out the door and it’s spent, it’s gone.”

The Pennsylvania Republican said that money in earlier aid packages, including grants from the Paycheck Protection Program, were disbursed with relatively little fraud prevention in place. He said creating safeguards before the money is distributed will be key for preventing fraud and waste of federal funds in the future.

DeFoor asked the General Assembly to put safeguards in place to ensure that the money is used only for its intended purposes.

“We need transparency, oversight, and accountability for this massive amount of funding. And we need it here at the state level,” he said, and pointed to a bill from Republicans in the state Senate that would allow the state to reclaim misused grant money.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have been criticized by watchdog groups for a lack of oversight and transparency in the disbursement of pandemic relief funds since the first massive spending package was pushed through last year. Though the American Rescue Plan and past pandemic relief bills, like the CARES Act, have included provisions meant to eliminate fraud, officials have struggled to balance transparency while simultaneously distributing funds quickly to those that need them.