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Grassley Wants ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Audit

Concerned that last summer’s $3 billion Cash-for-Clunkers program might be rife with waste and fraud, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), senior Republican on the Finance Committee, is asking administration officials today for an accounting of where exactly all of that money went. Specifically, Grassley wants to know how much of the funding went to the large financial firms and government agencies responsible for processing the thousands of transactions under the Clunkers program.

“Pursuant to the legislation, the DOT had only 30 days after the date the legislation was enacted into law to engage contractors and stand up the Program before the first rebates were issued,” Grassley wrote Tuesday in a letter to Ray LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation.

It is my understanding that the original legislation provided $50 million to cover the costs of these contracts, but no specific funding provision for the contractors was included with the additional $2 billion that was provided for the Program. To date the Administration has not provided an accurate accounting of the administrative costs related to the Cash for Clunkers program and I believe that the American taxpayer deserves more information, not less, and that information needs to come sooner rather than later.

The numbers aren’t insignificant. In August, Autoblog reported that the administrative costs to process the 690,000 transactions hit $100 million — or about $145 per vehicle. Among the contractors/agencies who received some of that pie, Grassley says, are Citibank, Vangent and the IRS. The response should be interesting.

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