The Transparency Buzz, More Fun with SIGTARP, and Please Please Don't Blame the Accounting

I read a comment in the June 2009 Journal of Accountancy (shut up, you know reading it makes me awesome) tonight on "Other Routes to Transparency" that went something like this:

I would like to submit my name as being less than enamored with the new Form 990 that the IRS has visited upon hapless not-for-profits. I noticed that your article “The Redesigned Form 990” (March 09, page 72) featured the use of the buzzword “transparency.” It seems that any reporting changes imposed on the public are always labeled in the interest of transparency. The unethical conduct of a few always visits punishment upon the masses.

I fully recognize the abuses that take place in the not-for-profit field, but most of the information called for in the new Form 990 is also presented in the Labor-Management annual Form LM-2 having to do with purpose, payments to principal officials, etc. In my opinion the questions about the number of forms W-2 and 1099 filed borders on the ridiculous. There are three questions regarding program accomplishments and organizational purpose. The Form LM-2 could be shared and avoid the time and painful effort required to fill out the 990.

When I contacted our Alabama congressional representative to complain about what I consider overkill in the reporting requirements imposed by the new Form 990, his response was, “We have no control over the Internal Revenue Service.”

James Johnson, an Alabama CPA, understands that "transparency" has become nothing more than an empty promise, something that is batted around so often it is diluted by intent (whether or not this has been maliciously is as yet unproven).

Somehow I have a sneaking suspicion that we will also somehow get beaten with the magical transparency wand when the TBW smoke clears.

SIGTARP's mission is to look into any fraud or misuse of TARP funds or of the program itself, she said. It had 35 active investigations as of June 30, according to information it provided to Congress last month.

"These investigations include complex issues concerning suspected accounting fraud, securities fraud, mortgage-servicer misconduct, mortgage fraud, public corruption, false statements and tax investigations," SIGTARP said in its quarterly report to Congress.

Only two of those investigations have been made public, and both of those involved investment scams.

Until Friday, Colonial and TBW had a pending $300 million investment deal that was to help the Montgomery-based bank receive up to $550 million in TARP funds. The two parties announced Friday that they had mutually decided to terminate the deal.


Oh noes not accounting fraud!

But wait, Colonial didn't get TARP money because TBW dropped out of the deal. So what does SIGTARP have to do with this?

Is this all bullshit or is this even their jurisdiction?

Point being, I'm not promoting any level of "transparency" until the agencies forcing their version thereof down my throat start returning the favor. SIGTARP has some 'splainin to do itself and so far, nothing. Shhhh, we're investimagating....

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.