May Oversight Training: Oversight from Personal Offices or the Minority

Listen to the audio from this training:

Oversight from Personal Offices or the Minority, with Kurt Couchman, May 24, 2019

Kurt Couchman is the Co-Director of Legislative Strategy for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and formerly served in the offices of Representatives Dave Brat and Justin Amash. He discussed how personal offices can use tools outside the regular process to conduct oversight and get answers.

About the training

NB: This event date has passed. 

POGO's Congressional Training Program aims to educate Hill staffers and other people in the legislative branch about the oversight powers of Congress.

Designed for veterans and neophytes alike, the seminars feature a combination of lessons and hands-on exercises from some of the most accomplished current and former Congressional oversight experts and practitioners. Although seminars are targeted towards committee staff, much of the skills and information shared during the seminars are helpful to personal staff in their investigations.

For Congressional staff only—not open to the public.

"Soft Power: Oversight from Personal Offices or the Minority"

Friday, May 24, 2019
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Refreshments and snacks provided
Location: Capitol Visitor Center
Room number provided upon RSVP


  • Kurt Couchman, former Legislative Director, Representative Dave Brat
  • Joseph Gaeta, Chief Counsel and Oversight Director, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

For more information or to RSVP, email Daniel Van Schooten ([email protected]) or call (202) 347-1122.

There is no cost for participating in the seminars. They are for legislative branch staff only, are off the record, and refreshments are provided. Seminars will generally be held on the last Friday of the month in the Capitol Visitor Center or alternating each month between rooms in the Senate and House office buildings.

True to POGO's non-partisan mission, the training seminars always have both a Republican and Democratic presenter, and may also include presenters from the GAO, CRS, Inspectors General, media, and NGOs. Seminar topics have ranged from "How to Prepare for an Oversight Hearing" to "Making the Most of Your Resources Part 1: GAO" to "Advanced Seminar: Oversight of the Financial Sector."

Congressional oversight is a bipartisan responsibility and effort. Therefore, the Honorary Co-Hosts are Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate. This Congress's Honorary Co-Hosts are Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Jackie Speier. POGO launched its Congressional Training Program (then called the Congressional Oversight Training Series) nearly a decade ago to provide Congressional staffers, at no cost, with exercises, case reviews, and lessons from some of the most accomplished current and former Congressional oversight experts and practitioners from both parties.

More than 2,000 staffers—both novice and seasoned, from Democratic and Republican offices, and from personal and committee offices—have attended these seminars. Below are just a few of the myriad compliments the program has received in the staffers' seminar evaluations.

"Excellent discussion and great guest speakers. Very knowledgeable with good handouts."
"I like the fact that this is a series—that you continually remind staff of the need to do oversight. As opposed to one seminar at the beginning of the session which we promptly forget about in the rush of everything else we've got to do."
"Real life situations and tips very helpful to new investigator."
"Each session gives new ideas as to how oversight can be done—based on the firsthand experiences relayed by the panelist. It helps answer the question: 'Where do we start?'"

Additional information: