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Harvard Kennedy School Professor Malcolm Sparrow has been named by the White House to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, charged with monitoring the integrity of the national stimulus program spending. The $787 billion package, passed by Congress last year, was designed to pull the nation out of the recession, but has come under fire for alleged waste and abuse.
Sparrow says the panel will help ensure that the money is well spent.
“The intention is to have some outside-government experts offer strategic advice to the administration about protecting the integrity of the stimulus package spending,” Sparrow says. “I assume the threats to be protected against include fraud, waste, abuse, bogus performance reporting, bogus evaluation, diversion, and lack of transparency in purpose or allocation.”
The sheer size and speed of the stimulus package deployment makes the panel’s job quite challenging, according to Sparrow.
“For this kind of adrenalin shot to the economy to work, there’s obviously a lot of haste in setting up disbursement systems and getting the money out there. I can’t imagine there was much time, in some parts of the program at least, to think through all the potential risks involved and to imagine what forms of abuse such programs might attract,” Sparrow says. “I imagine we’ll be trying to invent resource-efficient methods of scoping various risks, some in retrospect, and shutting down vulnerabilities without undermining the effects of the stimulus itself.”
Sparrow says he takes the responsibility of serving on the panel very seriously.
“I assume it is vitally important for America that such enormous levels of public spending are actually targeted effectively and protected properly, and are seen to be so,” he says.
Malcolm Sparrow is professor of the practice of public management and faculty chair of the Executive Program on Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies. He served 10 years with the British Police Service, rising to the rank of detective chief inspector, and has had extensive experience with criminal investigation. His research interests include regulatory and enforcement strategy, fraud control, and risk management and analysis.