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Treasury Slow to Keep Transparency Promise

 Back in January, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made a clear promise: All TARP investment agreements would be put on the Internet "so that taxpayers can see how their money is being spent and the terms these institutions must agree to."

But Treasury has not yet kept that promise. A review of the department’s Web site shows that more than half of the the contracts have not been posted. By our count, contracts are available for only 267 of the financial institutions participating in the Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program, about 45 percent of the 589 institutions that have received money. As of today, the Treasury has invested $197.6 billion through the program.

The Treasury Department’s announcement in late January said that going forward, the contracts would be posted within 10 business days of having been completed, and that the department would work "in the coming weeks" to make public all contracts completed before the announcement.

Eighteen weeks later, the Treasury doesn’t seem to have made much headway in posting contracts for the hundreds of investments that were made between November and early January. Those seem to make up a large portion of the missing documents, but contracts for various later investments also appear to be missing.

A Treasury spokeswoman said, "We recognize the value of making this information available to the public." She said that the department was working on doing so and emphasized that the biggest 21 contracts are currently available to the public (true, except for the contract for American Express). She also said that all new contracts are posted within 10 days of closing (largely true, except for some scattered missing contracts), and that the department was "in the process" of posting the earlier contracts.

It’s not clear when Treasury might finish making all the contracts available, so we’re keeping track in our usual way here at ProPublica: with a promise clock, wound up to count from January 28.

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