Business & Economy
Lack of Oversight at International Trade Commission PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 01 November 2010 12:36

Grassley Releases Report on Lack of Inspector General Oversight

at the International Trade Commission

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today released a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the lack of Inspector General (IG) oversight at the International Trade Commission (ITC).  Although, the Inspector General Act requires that agencies appoint an IG to detect waste, fraud, and abuse, the ITC failed to fill the position for more than four years.  Instead, the GAO report found, ITC relied on "acting" and "temporary" appointments for most of the period between November 2005 and December 2009.  For 17 months during that time, ITC operated with neither an acting nor a temporary IG, according to the GAO report.

“Agencies need to understand that Inspector General oversight is not optional," Grassley said.  "The law requires that they have an IG on the job and that the IG be given the resources and access to information necessary to do the job.  The ITC needs to finish implementing the GAO’s recommendations for corrective action as soon as possible to ensure that there is adequate oversight of the agency from now on.”

GAO also found that the ITC failed to support the temporary and acting IGs with policies and procedures to ensure access to agency records.  The ITC failed to provide notice and coordination with the temporary IG on a criminal referral to the Justice Department.  And, the ITC kept the IG’s budget flat while its own budget increased by 23 percent.

Grassley is ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade, and a long-time advocate for inspectors general.

The GAO report on the ITC is available here.

 
Governor Quinn Announces Chrysler to Invest $600 Million to Produce Future Vehicles at Belvidere Facility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 01 November 2010 12:22
State’s $62 Million Investment Package Will Save Nearly
2,000 Jobs, Boost Illinois’ Automotive Industry
CHICAGO – October 28, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Chrysler Group LLC is planning to invest $600 million over the next three years to expand its Belvidere Assembly Plant and prepare it for production of future vehicles. The state is providing a $62.1 million business investment package to save 1,950 permanent jobs and generate 700,000 construction hours. Governor Quinn proposed, helped to pass and signed legislation into law in December to expand the EDGE tax credit to benefit the auto industry, which was critical to Chrysler’s decision to stay and expand in Illinois.
“Illinois has some of the best and most productive workers in the nation, so it’s no wonder Chrysler has chosen to remain in Illinois for the production of future vehicles,” said Governor Quinn. “This significant investment will save nearly 2,000 Illinois jobs and is a clear indication that Illinois is continuing our economic recovery.”
The state’s investment will help Chrysler build a 638,000 square-foot body shop, in addition to installing new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment. Work began this summer, and the project is expected to be completed next year.
The improvements will facilitate the production of the next generation of Chrysler vehicles in 2012, incorporating advanced components and systems technologies. The Belvidere facility currently produces the Dodge Caliber, Jeep® Compass and Jeep Patriot.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the state’s business investment package. The package consists of EDGE tax credits, Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of the company’s workforce, and Large Business Development Program funds for capital improvements.
Chrysler will also benefit from being located in an Enterprise Zone. The enhanced EDGE tax credit enables auto manufacturing companies, which are among Illinois' largest group of employers, to retain employee income tax withholdings as an alternative to the current EDGE corporate tax credit and reinvest those funds into operations that create more jobs.
“Governor Quinn has stood by Chrysler since day one because he knows how important this company is to Illinois and the people of this region,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “Today, we are seeing the benefits of our investments as we help usher in a new era of manufacturing excellence in Illinois.”
Illinois leads the Midwest in job creation with more than 50,000 jobs being added this year, including more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs. Illinois’ economic growth in 2010 also nearly doubles the nation.

 
IRS makes zero progress on debt collection PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 01 November 2010 08:34

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, today made the following comment on a report released from the Government Accountability Office, “Tax Debt Collection: IRS Could Improve Future Studies by Establishing Appropriate Guidance.”  The report is available here.  Grassley has written to the IRS regarding private contractors for debt collection. The March 5, 2009, IRS response to Grassley is available here.  The May 6, 2009, IRS response to Grassley is available here.

“According to this report, the IRS used a flawed study to justify ending its contracts with private agencies to collect owed taxes that the IRS wasn’t collecting on its own.  The IRS knew the study was flawed because the GAO told the IRS how to do the study.  But the IRS didn’t implement the GAO’s recommendations to fix the study, even though it agreed with them.  The IRS used the results from the defective cost-effectiveness study to defend its decision to terminate the use of private collection agencies, even though that wasn’t the primary purpose of the study.

“Union advocates, including members of Congress, Obama administration officials and the taxpayer advocate, tried to tell the public that IRS employees could collect the tax debts cheaper and better than private employees.  Yet, the IRS’ own information shows that the fledgling pilot program was returning money to the Treasury and that private employees’ quality ratings were consistently higher than that of IRS employees.  Union supporters’ successful disinformation campaign ultimately hurts other taxpayers, as private agencies were collecting dollars that the IRS wasn’t and isn’t going to collect anyway.”

“The IRS used a poor study to secure a task it said it could perform but hasn’t.   As of the most recent fiscal year, unpaid tax debts equal $328.1 billion. Only $120.4 billion of that amount is deemed potentially collectible and IRS is not actively pursuing $27.4 billion that it says is collectible. These are significant increases from when GAO first started tracking these numbers.  So, not only has the IRS made no progress in reducing unpaid tax debt, but also we’re worse off every year.”

“Private collection agencies were supposed to help the IRS collect debts that it couldn’t or wouldn’t collect on its own. And, despite the IRS’ announcement last year that it would be dedicating IRS resources to working cases that the private agencies would have worked, GAO tells us today that that isn’t the case. At the same time, the number of hours IRS employees dedicate to union activity at the office, on the taxpayer’s dime, is significant.  Those IRS employees should spend more time doing the government’s work and less time protecting their jobs.”

 
Medical Device Company Payments Questioned by Grassley PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 11:33

WASHINGTON – Monday, October 25, 2010 - On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa asked the Food and Drug Administration how the agency handles reports of medical device companies' payments to doctors who are participating in clinical studies of the companies' products.

Grassley wrote to the FDA commissioner, citing information that doctors participating in clinical trials sponsored by a particular medical device maker also received significant payments from that device maker.

“The FDA should be transparent and describe what it does with information about potential conflicts of interest, including any steps it takes to protect the integrity and reliability of clinical research,” Grassley said.

The text of Grassley’s letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is available here.

 
Braley Calls for Stricter Oversight of Excessive Wall Street Bonuses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Caitlin Legacki   
Monday, 18 October 2010 08:02

Sends letter to Securities and Exchange Commission, urging crackdown on bonuses


Waterloo, Iowa – Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) sent a letter today to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro expressing outrage over the recently announced excessive Wall Street compensation and benefits.  This week, it was reported that Wall Street firms are expected to award $144 billion in bonuses to their executives.

“While our economy is still struggling to get back on its feet, I believe that such excessive compensation in an industry that contributed to our financial collapse is unconscionable,” states Braley’s letter.  The letter also states, “I firmly believe these firms could put these funds to better use as investment capital to assist small businesses, for job creation, and to put our economy back on track.”

Braley urged Chairwoman Schapiro to expedite strict regulations to protect shareholders, consumers and investors, by cracking down on these excessive bonuses.  Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Braley supported, the SEC is instructed to create regulations that give shareholders more say over executive bonuses, increase the transparency of those bonuses, and allow for companies and shareholders to recover excessive executive bonuses under certain circumstances.

Braley’s letter is below:

October 15, 2010

The Honorable Mary L. Schapiro

Chairwoman

Security and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549

Dear Chairwoman Schapiro,

I’m writing to express serious concerns over recent media reports suggesting Wall Street firms are on track to provide $144 billion in compensation and benefits, which is a record high for a second consecutive year.  While our economy is still struggling to find its feet, I believe that such excessive compensation in an industry that contributed to our financial collapse is unconscionable.

For the past several years, I have urged Secretary Geithner and the Administration to crack down on excessive compensation and provide accountability for the use of taxpayer funds.  I’ve also called on Attorney General Holder to investigate the potential criminal misuse of funds by AIG to provide bonuses to many of their most senior executives.  In Congress, I have worked hard to provide accountability for consumers and investors and I supported strong regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to provide transparency and executive accountability to their investors as a means of reigning in risky decisions in pursuit of short term profits.

With the authority under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I urge you to expedite the issuance of strict regulations to protect investors and consumers and ensure that any compensation provided by these firms is warranted and not harmful to investor or consumers.  Furthermore, as some of the drivers of the economic collapse, I firmly believe these firms could put these funds to better use as investment capital to assist small businesses, for job creation, and to put our economy back on track.

Once again, I urge you to expedite the regulations contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and to ensure strong protections for shareholders, consumers and investors from such irresponsible executive compensation.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Bruce Braley

Member of Congress

 
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