Treasury Seeks More Lending Data From TARP Firms

As the Obama administration puts new pressure on big financial firms to help power what's been an erratic economic recovery, the Treasury Department has prepared a new survey asking recipients of government aid to state how they've used the funds.

Treasury Building
Treasury Building has obtained a copy of the fact sheet accompanying a "use of funds" survey, seeking information on money obtained under the Capital Purchase Program, CPP, the technical name for the TARP—the federal government's cash-for-equity program intended to stabilize big firms and the financial system during the height of the crisis last year

Citigroup and Wells Fargo in the past weekbecame the last of the big banks to either lay out a plan to repay the money or repay it altogether. Earlier this month, Bank of America paid back $45 billion.

Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase were among the first to pay back TARP funds after the completion of stress tests last spring. Those tests were meant to deterime the potential capital needs of firms with assets of more than $100 billion to help them withstand any additional downturn in the economy.

In late November, the Federal Reserve said 18 of the 19 banks participating in stress tests "were shown to have no additional capital need or have now fulfilled their need in the private market."

The request for information comes hot on the heels of a Monday meeting between President Obama and top CEOs, wherein he asked them to step up their lending efforts, which have been deemed insufficient in some quarters of Washington.

Critics of TARP— members of Congress and the head of Congressional Oversight Panel, in particular—say money under the TARP was intended for banks to step up lending as well as shore up their balance sheets.

Though much of the focus has been on the big banks, hundreds of other financial institutions have used TARP funds.

The survey, which the fact sheet calls voluntary, "seeks to gauge the effectiveness" of the program and "will cover how each financial institution has employed the capital infusion of CPP funds from the date they initially received the funds until the end of the third quarter 2009."

Since February, the Treasury has been publishing similar data on a monthly basis, known as bank lending surveys, on its website, That data covered lending for mortgages, credit cards and other financial instruments.

The new survey data will also be posted on that site.

The fact sheet states that Treasury collaborated with the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("SIGTARP") on the format" of the survey.

SIGTARP, which reports to the General Accountability Office, at times has been fairly critical of the Treasury's administration of the TARP, questioning its transparency and accountability.

The fact sheet further notes that SIGTARP's most recent audit report states that its "plan to publish responses on an institution-by-institution basis will provide meaningful information to the public on how the CPP program has met its goals."

Treasury confirmed the authenticity of the document but did not otherwise comment.

Among other things, it is unclear if the actual survey has been sent out to firms, and when the resuts are due back to the government