Congressional Oversight Boot Camp

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August 14, 2015

Three nonprofit organizations seeking to improve the quality of public policy through bipartisan, fact-based Congressional oversight investigations have joined forces to sponsor an intensive training session for Congressional staff, called an “Oversight Boot Camp.” The Project On Government Oversight (POGO), the Levin Center, and the Lugar Center held their first joint boot camp on August 11 and 12, in Washington, DC.

“Effective bipartisan oversight is a lost art that needs to be revived,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who conducted Senate investigations for over 30 years before retiring last year and who personally opened the boot camp session this week.

"We believe the Oversight Boot Camp has great potential to bolster government accountability and bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and the Lugar Center looks forward to continuing our work in this area with our dedicated partners," said Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

“POGO is thrilled to partner with the Levin Center and The Lugar Center to advance the quality and effectiveness of Congressional oversight,” said POGO executive director Danielle Brian.

The goal of the oversight boot camp was to foster bipartisan, fact-based, in-depth investigations. Activities included drafting investigative, hearing, and follow-up plans, and working through common investigative problems. The boot camp instructors—two each from Democratic and Republican offices—were former Congressional investigators with decades of combined oversight experience.

The demand for oversight training is strong, bi-cameral, and bipartisan. Within an hour of its being announced, the boot camp was booked to full capacity and had a significant wait list. The final group of 18 staffers came equally from the House and Senate and from both parties. Most were from investigative committees, but a few were from the personal staffs of Members of Congress. They included both junior and senior investigators.

The Levin Center, formed by Sen. Levin earlier this year, is located in Detroit, sponsored by Wayne State University Law School, and dedicated to strengthening legislative oversight efforts.

The Lugar Center, formed in 2013 by Sen. Lugar, specializes in advancing a bipartisan approach to a range of defense and foreign affairs issues.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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