House Banking Committee members are expected to grill Treasury officials Thursday about how well the government tracks U.S. currency circulating abroad.
To combat counterfeiting, a 1996 law required the Treasury to come up with a means for estimating how much U.S. money is in use in foreign countries. The Treasury submitted its plan in October to Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who asked the General Accounting Office to review it.
"It's the goal of this subcommittee to assure the American people that the threat of foreign counterfeiting is being adequately addressed," Rep. Bachus, who chairs House Banking's general oversight subcommittee, said Tuesday. "Unfortunately, questions exist as to whether we can provide the public such an assurance."
The panel's hearing will focus on a recent GAO report that criticizes the Treasury's plan. "The plan does not clearly state the audit's objectives or the methodologies to achieve those objectives," GAO concluded in a report sent to Rep. Bachus April 11. The lawmaker did not circulate the report until Tuesday.
While the Treasury identified some possible methods to study the amount of authentic U.S. currency circulating in foreign countries, GAO said, the plan "does not explain how the Treasury intends to analyze the information that might be collected."
The Treasury provided GAO with additional details on April 21, but did not satisfy the requirements of the 1996 law, according to a general oversight subcommittee staffer. "The addendum doesn't change the findings of the GAO report," the staffer said.
However, Roger L. Anderson, the Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for federal finance, said the additional information should satisfy lawmakers.
"We think the addendum addresses all the concerns that GAO raised," Mr. Anderson said.
Treasury Under Secretary John D. Hawke Jr., along with Mr. Anderson, and GAO associate director JayEtta Z. Hecker will testify at Thursday's hearing.
Rep. Bachus told the Treasury to improve its tracking of U.S. currency partly because a GAO report released in February 1996 found that the Treasury did a poor job of projecting how many high-quality, counterfeit $100 bills were circulating abroad.