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Audit the Fed! Oh, Wait. The Fed is Already Audited

Fri, Oct 30, 5:11 PM ET, by Bob McTeer

The Audit the Fed folks, including two in the latest Republican presidential debate, are being disingenuous by implying that the Fed is not now audited when they know better. The Fed is audited internally, by an external independent audit firm, and, yes, by the GAO.

My brush with one GAO audit in the early 1990s was maddening. The GAO was auditing the Dallas Fed's new building program. Their big bombshell was that we had built the lobby of the new building much larger than the plans had called for. This was an easily correctable error on their part, but they had no interest in correcting it.

The GAO had added to the square foot calculation of our actual lobby the square feet on another floor that had the word lobby in its designation. Anybody walking into our lobby would realize it was a fraction of the size the GAO reported to Congress. Yet, I had to watch two U.S. senators—Senator Reid and Senator Harkin—go on national TV and lambast us for over building our lobby. The GAO made no attempt to correct the record.

This is why I cringe when politicians try to make cheap points by arguing the Fed should be audited by the GAO when it already is. The bill they are talking about would extend the GAO's audit powers to the Fed's monetary policy. They want individual members of Congress to be able to request a GAO audit when they don't agree with a decision of the FOMC. Fed independence has already taken a hit in recent years. This audit bill would be its death knell.

I repeat: the Fed is already audited by the GAO.


SDI Glossary: "the Fed" Definition
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