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Keeping Congressional Oversight Alive


Some Capitol Hill observers have noted that effective congressional oversight has waned as many advocates for aggressive, bipartisan investigations have left Congress.

Retired Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) recently expressed concern about the state of congressional investigations.

From CQ Roll Call:

“I don’t know if I can assess what Congress is doing now because I left. What I do know is there’s never enough congressional oversight,” Coburn says, particularly criticizing the job done by the Appropriations committees. “One of the reasons I left up there is that Washington doesn’t fix itself. I don’t see anyone leading to do anything to hold the administration accountable and hold Congress accountable.”

Levin agreed, saying:

Congress, has not done enough, in my judgment, to do the detailed, bipartisan, in-depth oversight that is important to bring accountability to individuals who have failed to do their job and act responsibly.

This is where the Project On Government Oversight comes in.

While we have offered oversight training to Hill staffers for years, we recently expanded that effort to create the Congressional Oversight Initiative. CQ Roll Call explains more about the program.

“We saw that this last Congress, a significant number of congressional oversight leaders retiring from office, and along with that a lot of their staff, which worried us,” says Danielle Brian, executive director of POGO.

The group’s initiative draws on a network of Hill oversight veterans, some of who worked in Congress as far back as the 1980s, [POGO’s Justin] Rood says. The program recently produced an analysis of committee rules that it shared with Hill staff members, and plans to offer other services as well.

“It’s not news that in recent years, the legislative branch has struggled to hold the executive branch to account,” Rood says. “We’re trying to keep the flame from dying.”

Read more about efforts to improve congressional oversight in CQ Roll Call.

Image from NASA HQ.

By: Andre Francisco
Online Producer, POGO

andre francisco Andre Francisco is the Online Producer for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Government Accountability

Related Content: Congressional Oversight, Checks and Balances, Congressional Oversight Initiative, Democracy

Authors: Andre Francisco

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