Observations on Oversight Reform Proposals

PAD-80-77: Published: May 22, 1980. Publicly Released: May 22, 1980.

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The GAO position on strengthening congressional oversight reform is summarized, and references to statements made to congressional committees during 1979 are provided. Proposals for periodic reexamination of programs, and more detailed statements of program objectives are discussed. In addition, comments are given on congressional consideration of regulatory action, grant reform, research and development funding, legislative savings, fraud and abuse, and other matters.

GAO believes that Congress and the Executive Branch must strive to keep a much longer-range timeframe in planning. They must focus their attention on broad policy areas and groups of interrelated programs. They must make a greater effort to analyze the probable effects of policy changes before they are enacted, be more specific and realistic when establishing program goals, provide the Administration the authority and resouces to realize such goals, or revise them to fit available resources. Also, Congress must establish evaluation and reporting procedures which compel administrators to produce clear performance statements, and they must take prompt action to make changes when needed. To improve congressional oversight, Congress can make more effective use of the opportunities and resources available to it. It needs to establish a more systematic approach to oversight by enacting workable sunset review legislation.

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