A House Banking Committee Republican is accusing the Treasury Department of impeding his probe of a program that awards banks seed money for low-income projects.

"The department's failure to respond is simply the latest in a series of patent stalling tactics, designed to postpone answers to the subcommittee's questions," Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., wrote in a May 28 letter to Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin.

Rep. Bachus, chairman of the Banking Committee's general oversight subcommittee, has been investigating the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. On May 15, Rep. Bachus said that objective standards were not used to award lenders $37 million in 1996. The lawmaker asked the Treasury to provide documents by May 21.

On May 27 Treasury Under Secretary John D. Hawke Jr. wrote back, explaining the department is working on an "appropriate protocol" to protect confidential business information of CDFI applicants.

In addition, Mr. Hawke said the Treasury's inspector general has been asked to investigate whether undated memos detailing how applications were reviewed were inserted into the files of certain applicants.

But Rep. Bachus said he wants an answer now.

"Questions such as when the relevant memoranda were produced and why they were left undated can-and must-be answered immediately," he wrote.

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