In one of the federal government’s biggest legal services contracts ever, the Treasury Department has hired 13 law firms to help run the Troubled Assets Relief Program at a cost to taxpayers of up to $100 million.

But the TARP watchdog, the Congressional Oversight Panel, has faulted the agency for excessive secrecy when it comes to its outside counsel, as well as the potential for conflicts of interest in managing the $700 billion program.

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