"They said last night don't mess with Joe," the Vice President said today (Ash Wednesday) at the first Recovery Plan Implementation meeting. Then, pointing to his left, he corrected that perception: "This is the guy you don't mess with."
He's talking about Earl Devaney, announced this week as the choice to lead the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board.
"The President has appointed one of our toughest Inspector Generals -- he's a no-nonsense guy -- to help us follow the money," the Vice President said.
A former Secret Service agent best known for his record of rooting out corruption as an Inspector General (IG) at the Interior Department, Devaney said it's not enough just to detect fraud and waste -- we've got to prevent it before the fact.
"I'll be on the frontlines, alongside the department IGs, preventing that waste," he said. And once the money starts to go out and Recovery.gov has all sorts of data, he said, he's counting on everyday Americans to take the initiative and keep an eye on the government, too.
There will be regular Recovery Plan Implementation meetings in the weeks and months ahead, so the Vice President can get regular updates from department and agency leaders – to hear what’s working and what isn’t.
Other key quotes from the meeting:
Vice President Biden:
"This is a monumental project, but it's doable...It's about getting the money out in 18 months, to literally dropkick us out of this recession."
"The fact that so many Americans are struggling to get by should be an incentive to make sure the money is spent well."
Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag:
"We are asking the taxpayers for their help to get this country out of this recession, and in return they deserve accountability and transparency. We have to go beyond normal procedure to a higher level of reporting."