Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is calling for the creation of a new oversight committee to expand the efforts Congress made to go after the fraudulent use of federal COVID-19 funds.

Romney, a Republican, and Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have introduced bipartisan legislation creating a new Government Spending Oversight Committee.

The new committee is seen as a successor to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee responsible for overseeing some $5 trillion in pandemic-related programs and spending that’s set to be terminated next year. Known as PRAC, the committee established in 2020 is credited with helping to uncover an estimated $1.95 billion to date in fraud losses.

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“With the national debt now exceeding $34 trillion, Congress should pursue commonsense solutions — like leveraging data analytics — to combat fraud and protect taxpayer dollars,” Romney, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s spending oversight committee, said in a statement.

The Utah senator said his bill would allow the new committee “to continue its oversight of pandemic-related funds, while also expanding its scope to encompass additional federal spending, including Small Business Administration loans, unemployment insurance, and some of the largest spending programs enacted last Congress.”

The new committee would benefit from extending the analytics capabilities used to uncover pandemic fraud, including through data analytic tools, enhanced data-sharing, and improved data management practices utilized by inspectors general to support investigations, reviews and audits of federal funds.

“It’s our duty to ensure government is working efficiently and effectively for the American people,” Peters said of the bill. “One of the simplest ways to do that is to ensure taxpayer money is going to good use. My new bipartisan bill will provide critical tools to identify and prevent fraud in federal government spending.”

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The legislation was described as representing “an important step forward in maintaining this valuable fraud prevention and fraud fighting tool,” by Michael Horowitz, chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Horowitz said the bill is a “good government initiative that will improve the integrity of federal programs, and protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Another official, Gene Dodar, comptroller general of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said the bill “incorporates one of GAO’s recommendations to help the federal government better combat fraud, waste, and abuse in its programs and spending. It is a step in the right direction in enhancing the accountability and transparency over federal funds on behalf of the American people.”