Government Accountability

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Government agencies have come under fire in the past week on two issues: a Justice Department probe into phone records obtained from the Associated Press, and concern the Internal Revenue Service targeted groups believed connected to the tea party movement.

At a news conference Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he had no role in the AP probe, but did address the IRS controversy.

"It put the American people at risk and that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk and trying to determine who is responsible for that I think required very aggressive action and as I said I'm sure that the subpoena as formulated, based on the people that I know, I don't know about the facts, but based on the people that I know. I think that subpoena was done in conformance with DOJ regs."

At the same time, a local conference on transparency in government was in progress. While it focused mainly on federal financial issues, one of its participants said this stresses the need for a more open governmental process.

"We see overreach, and people say, ' This is why you can't trust government.," says Paul Miller, Senior Policy Analyst, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy' "But the bigger question for me is why we have to have transparency in government, to make sure if someone violated a law, they should be accountable."

Miller was speaking before the Mid-Ohio Valley chapter of AGA, which stands for "Advancing Government Accountability", and its members mostly consist of financial professionals in government.

Representatives of the state treasurer's office also spoke at the day-long seminar.

Miller says there is proof available that the government stimulus, enacted early in the Obama Administration, resulted in lowering the nation's jobless rate. Opponents cite items such as the recent router controversy in West Virginia as evidence to the contrary.

"We had $126 million, the largest grant awarded to any state, and yet, we spent money on routers we didn't need," Miller says. "And people look at that and say, 'this is why government is doing a bad job.' But the reality is, that's really a small drop."