(WASHINGTON)—The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) was outraged to hear Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announce this week that the Trump administration will not publicize the recipients of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
When it passed the law established the program to aid businesses, Congress clearly intended for there to be comprehensive transparency, and the Small Business Administration has reported the names of loan recipients under its programs for years. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, the DATA Act, and the Freedom Of Information Act would all require public disclosure of recipients of these types of funding streams, regardless of what the law establishing the PPP program says. So Mnuchin’s statement that the administration will suddenly treat the identities of the loan recipients as confidential is unacceptable.
“Mnuchin’s claim that the names of the loan recipients are ‘proprietary’ and ‘confidential’ information is bogus—the decision to hide the information is actually just a blatant attempt to dodge standard requirements for transparency and accountability. There’s no good reason to keep this information private.” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of POGO. “What are they hiding? The public needs to see this information in order to make sure the loans are going to the businesses who need it the most, and we will fight for access to this vital information.”
POGO is filing a Freedom of Information Act request today for the names of the businesses that received loans through the PPP program and all other award details related to each specific loan. And if the federal government fails to disclose the information in a timely manner, we will file a lawsuit.
The administration’s attempt to hide information on its coronavirus relief spending is part of a broader attack on accountability and oversight. The American people deserve to know where their taxpayer dollars are going, and this information is vital for efforts to hold the government accountable for its spending.
POGO is committed to making data on the coronavirus spending publicly available and easy to access. As part of that effort, we plan to launch a COVID-19 relief spending tracker, as we announced in April.
CORRECTION, June 15, 2020: This statement initially asserted that the CARES Act requires the SBA to release data on the PPP loan recipients, yet it has since come to light that the law does not provide clear instructions on the reporting requirements for that program.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.
We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.