Finding Out How Programs Are Working:

Suggestions for Congressional Oversight

PAD-78-3: Published: Nov 22, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1977.

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To enhance the congressional oversight process, committees of Congress, when reporting major authorizing legislation, should include an oversight requirements section in the legislation. The oversight requirements should specify congressional oversight issues and questions and provide for feedback of program performance information and other evaluation data on some kind of reasonable timetable in order to answer specified oversight questions.

The oversight procedure, when applied by Congress, would establish a disciplined process for agencies to follow in monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on their programs in order to answer congressional oversight questions. The oversight requirements in the authorizing legislation would spell out Congress' intent to engage in oversight of the legislation and indicate, for any authorized program: what Congress expects the program to accomplish, what general oversight questions Congress expects the agency to answer as the program is implemented, and what committee or committees are responsible for oversight and assuring that the executive branch complies with congressional oversight requirements. In accordance with the applicable oversight requirements, the responsible executive branch agency would report to Congress or designated committees its progress in implementing the program, including periodic reports on progress in developing, designing, establishing, and executing the programs. The oversight procedure would also require agencies to report the measures they intend to take in evaluating the program as well as the results of completed evaluation studies.

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