Legislative Oversight

Essay by kelso2utdHigh School, 12th grade June 2004

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A major function of Congress is to oversee the administration of policies. Therefore is called legislative oversight. Oversight is not a highly visible or constituted-oriented function, it is something that congressional committees have focused on in recent decades. While congress doesn't exactly want to do this type of work because it is complicated and not widely publicized, growing constitute complaints and exposed policy failures by the media have forced this rule.

Oversight allows congress to determine the success of failure of legislative policies. For several years oversight was thought to be Congress' neglected job because its members did not have the enough incentives to carry it out. Congressmen would rather pass legislation establishing new programs or do other tasks that gave them positive attention rather than spend time reviewing administrative activities or evaluating the efficiency of a program. During the growth of the federal government in the 1930's and 40's, the need for oversight grew as well.

The Legislative Reorganization Act (1946) was a reform that clearly recognized the important of the oversight function and encouraged it in Congress. However, this act appeared to have failed because there was no incentive on behalf of the congress members. Factors such as widespread public disenchantment with the government, a shortage of resources, and high levels of tension between branches are what instigates Congress to practice oversight.

The quality of oversight is the subject of many complaints from congressional members because it lacks continuity. The objective of oversight is that it should be bipartisan, free of political motives, systematic, comprehensive, and well coordinated. It must not intervene excessively and have clear reports that include follow-ups. Oversight must be part of the political process. Advocacy oversight focuses on programs that may need to improve in order to continue. Therefore, studies accept...