Congressional Oversight Manual
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Congressional Oversight Manual was developed about 30 years ago following a three-day
December 1978 Workshop on Congressional Oversight and Investigations. The workshop was
organized by a group of House and Senate committee aides from both parties and the
Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the request of the bipartisan House leadership. The
Manual was produced by CRS with the assistance of a number of House committee staffers. In
subsequent years, CRS sponsored and conducted various oversight seminars for House and
Senate staff and updated the Manual as circumstances warranted. The last revision occurred in
2004. Worth noting is the bipartisan recommendation of the House members of the 1993 Joint
Committee on the Organization of Congress (Rept. No. 103-413, Vol. I):
[A]s a way to further enhance the oversight work of Congress, the Joint Committee would
encourage the Congressional Research Service to conduct on a regular basis, as it has done in
the past, oversight seminars for Members and congressional staff and to update on a regular
basis its Congressional Oversight Manual.
Over the years, CRS has assisted many Members, committees, party leaders, and staff aides in the
performance of the oversight function, that is, the review, monitoring, and supervision of the
implementation of public policy. Understandably, given the size, reach, cost, and continuing
growth of the modern executive establishment, Congress’s oversight role is even more
significant—and more demanding—than when Woodrow Wilson wrote in his classic
Congressional Government (1885): “Quite as important as lawmaking is vigilant oversight of
administration.” Today’s lawmakers and congressional aides, as well as commentators and
scholars, recognize that Congress’s work, ideally, should not end when it passes legislation.
Oversight is an integral way to make sure that the laws work and are being administered in an
effective, efficient, and economical manner. In light of this destination, oversight can be viewed st
as one of Congress’s principal responsibilities as it grapples with the complexities of the 21
To revise a document of this size and scope requires the contributions of many people. Five CRS
specialists, listed on the title page, were responsible for organizing and writing this version of the
Manual. In addition, other CRS personnel assisted in the preparation and publication of this
report, along with staff of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Government
Accountability Office (GAO).
I. Purposes, Authority, and Participants...........................................................................................1
Purposes....................................................................................................................... .................... 1
A. Ensure Executive Compliance with Legislative Intent........................................................1
B. Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Economy of Governmental Operations...........1
C. Evaluate Program Performance............................................................................................2
D. Prevent Executive Encroachment on Legislative Prerogatives and Powers.........................2
E. Investigate Alleged Instances of Poor Administration, Arbitrary and Capricious
Behavior, Abuse, Waste, Dishonesty, and Fraud....................................................................2
F. Assess Agency or Officials’ Ability to Manage and Carry out Program Objectives.............2
G. Review and Determine Federal Financial Priorities.............................................................2
H. Ensure That Executive Policies Reflect the Public Interest.................................................3
I. Protect Individual Rights and Liberties.................................................................................3
J. Other Specific Purposes.........................................................................................................3
Authority to Conduct Oversight......................................................................................................4
A. United States Constitution....................................................................................................4
B. Principal Statutory Authority................................................................................................5
C. Responsibilities in House and Senate Rules.........................................................................9
Congressional Participants in Oversight.......................................................................................13
A. Members and Committees..................................................................................................13
B. Staff of Member Offices and Committees..........................................................................13
C. Congressional Support Agencies and Offices.....................................................................14
II. Oversight Coordination and Processes.....................................................................................17
A. General Techniques of Ensuring Oversight Coordination Include.....................................17
B. Specific Means of Ensuring Oversight Coordination Include............................................17
A. The Budget Process............................................................................................................18
B. The Authorization Process..................................................................................................19
C. The Appropriations Process................................................................................................20
D. The Investigatory Process..................................................................................................21
E. The Confirmation Process..................................................................................................22
F. The Impeachment Process...................................................................................................23
III. Investigative Oversight............................................................................................................27
A. The Legal Basis for Oversight............................................................................................27
B. The Tools of Oversight.......................................................................................................28
1. The Subpoena Power....................................................................................................28
2. Staff Depositions...........................................................................................................29
3. Congressional Grants of Immunity...............................................................................30
C. Enforcement of the Investigative Power............................................................................31
1. The Contempt Power....................................................................................................31
2. Perjury and False Statements Prosecutions...................................................................33
D. Executive Privilege and Common Law Testimonial Privileges.........................................33
1. The Presidential Communications Privilege.................................................................35
2. Common-Law Testimonial Privileges...........................................................................39
E. Investigative Oversight Hearings........................................................................................43
1. Jurisdiction and Authority.............................................................................................43
2. Rules Applicable to Hearings........................................................................................43
3. Conducting Hearings....................................................................................................44
F. Specialized Investigations...................................................................................................45
G. Role of Minority-Party Members In the Investigative Process...........................................48
IV. Selected Oversight Techniques................................................................................................55
A. Determine Laws, Programs, Activities, Functions, Advisory Committees,
Agencies, and Departments Within Each Committee’s Jurisdiction....................................55
B. Orientation and Periodic Review Hearings With Agencies................................................56
E. Monitoring the Federal Register........................................................................................59
F. Special Studies and Investigations by Staff, Support Agencies, Outside Contractors,
G. Communicating with the Media.........................................................................................60
a. Wire Services................................................................................................................60
b. Daily Newspapers.........................................................................................................60
d. Trade Periodicals...........................................................................................................61
g. Press Conferences.........................................................................................................62
h. News Releases..............................................................................................................63
i. The Internet and the Media............................................................................................63
H. Statutory Offices of Inspector General: Establishment and Evolution...............................64
Responsibilities ................................................................................................................. 64
Authority and Duties.........................................................................................................64
Supervision .................................................................................................................... ... 65
Appointment and Removal...............................................................................................66
Coordination and Controls................................................................................................66
Establ is hment .................................................................................................................... 67
I. Reporting, Consultation, and Other Sources of Information...............................................70
1. Reporting Requirements...............................................................................................70
2. Prior Consultation.........................................................................................................71
3. Other Significant Sources of Information.....................................................................72
a. Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (104 Stat. 2838).................................................72
b. Government Performance and Results Act (107 Stat. 285)..........................................72
c. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 857-
874) ................................................................................................................................ 73
d. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (109 Stat. 163).......................................................73
e. Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) of 1982 (96 Stat. 814)................73
f. Cash Management Improvement Act of 1990 (104 Stat. 1058)....................................74
g. Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 679)................74
h. Federal Advisory Committee Act..................................................................................74
i. Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002...............................................74
j. Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002....................................................................75
k. Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996...........................................75
l. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995......................................................................75
m. Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act...............................................75
J. Resolutions of Inquiry.........................................................................................................76
K. Limitations and Riders on Appropriations.........................................................................77
L. Legislative Veto and Advance Notice.................................................................................78
M. Independent Counsel.........................................................................................................80
V. Oversight Information Sources and Consultant Services..........................................................87
A. Congressional Research Service (CRS).............................................................................87
Analytical and Research Services.....................................................................................87
Divi sions ........................................................................................................................... 91
Office s ........................................................................................................................ ....... 93
B. Congressional Budget Office (CBO)..................................................................................97
1. Helping Congress Develop a Plan for the Budget........................................................98
2. Helping Congress Stay Within Its Budget Plan............................................................99
3. Helping Congress Assess Federal Mandates...............................................................100
4. Helping Congress Consider Budget and Economic Policy Issues..............................101
C. Offices of Senate Legal Counsel and House General Counsel.........................................102
A. Senate Legal Counsel.................................................................................................102
B. House General Counsel..............................................................................................105
D. Government Accountability Office (GAO)......................................................................106
4. Additional Services.....................................................................................................108
5. Obtaining GAO Services............................................................................................109
E. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).......................................................................110
F. Budget Information............................................................................................................111
G. Beneficiaries, Private Organizations, and Interest Groups................................................113
Table 1. Special Investigative Authorities of Selected Investigating Committees........................47
Table 2. Statutes Authorizing Inspectors General Nominated by the President and
Confirmed by the Senate, 1976-Present.....................................................................................67
Table 3. Designated Federal Entities and Other Agencies with Statutory IGs Appointed by
the Head of the Entity or Agency...............................................................................................68
Table 4. Tabulation of Existing Federal Establishments, Entities, or Agencies with IGs
Authorized in Law......................................................................................................................69
Appendix A. Illustrative Subpoena...............................................................................................117
Author Contact Information........................................................................................................130
Throughout its history, Congress has engaged in oversight of the executive branch—the review,
monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy. The first several Congresses
inaugurated such important oversight techniques as special investigations, reporting requirements,
resolutions of inquiry, and use of the appropriations process to review executive activity.
Contemporary developments, moreover, have increased the legislature’s capacity and capabilities
to check on and check the Executive. Public laws and congressional rules have measurably
enhanced Congress’s implied power under the Constitution to conduct oversight.
Despite its lengthy heritage, oversight was not given explicit recognition in public law until
enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. That act required House and Senate
standing committees to exercise “continuous watchfulness” over programs and agencies within
Since the late 1960s, according to such scholars as political scientist Joel Aberbach, Congress has
shown increasing interest in oversight for several major reasons. These include the expansion in
number and complexity of federal programs and agencies; increase in expenditures and
personnel, including contract employees; the rise of the budget deficit; and the frequency of
divided government, with Congress and the White House controlled by different parties. Major
partisan disagreements over priorities and processes also heighten conflict between the legislature
and the executive.
Oversight occurs in virtually any congressional activity and through a wide variety of channels,
organizations, and structures. These range from formal committee hearings to informal Member
contacts with executive officials, from staff studies to support agency reviews, and from casework
conducted by Member offices to studies prepared by non-congressional entities, such as statutory
commissions and offices of inspector general.
Congressional oversight of the Executive is designed to fulfill a number of purposes:
Congress, of necessity, must delegate discretionary authority to federal administrators. To make
certain that these officers faithfully execute laws according to the intent of Congress, committees
and Members can review the actions taken and regulations formulated by departments and
A large federal bureaucracy makes it imperative for Congress to encourage and secure efficient
and effective program management, and to make every dollar count toward the achievement of
program goals. A basic objective is strengthening federal programs through better managerial
operations and service delivery. Such steps can improve the accountability of agency managers to
Congress and enhance program performance.
Systematic program performance evaluation remains a relatively new and still-evolving technique
in oversight. Modern program evaluation uses social science and management methodologies,
such as surveys, cost-benefit analyses, and efficiency studies, to assess the effectiveness of
Beginning in the late 1960s, many commentators, public policy analysts, and legislators argued
that Presidents and executive officials overstepped their authority in various areas such as
impoundment of funds, executive privilege, war powers, and the dismantling of federal programs
without congressional consent. Increased oversight—as part of the checks and balances system—
was called for to redress what many in the public and Congress saw to be an executive arrogation
of legislative prerogatives.
Instances of fraud and other forms of corruption, the breakdown of federal programs, incompetent
management, and the subversion of governmental processes arouse legislative and public interest
Congress’s ability to evaluate the capacity of agencies and managers to carry out program
objectives can be accomplished in various ways. For example, numerous laws require agencies to
submit reports to Congress; some of these are regular, occurring annually or semi-annually, for
instance, while others are activated by a specific event, development, or set of conditions. The
report requirement may promote self-evaluation by the agency. Organizations outside of
Congress, such as offices of inspector general and study commissions, also advise Members and
committees on how well federal agencies are working.
Congress exercises some of its most effective oversight through the appropriations process, which
provides the opportunity to review recent expenditures in detail. In addition, most federal
agencies and programs are under regular and frequent reauthorizations—on an annual, two-year,
four-year, or other basis—giving the authorizing committees the same opportunity. As a
consequence of these oversight efforts, Congress can abolish or curtail obsolete or ineffective
programs by cutting off or reducing funds or it may enhance effective programs by increasing
Congressional oversight can appraise whether the needs and interests of the public are adequately
served by federal programs, and thus lead to corrective action, either through legislation or
Congressional oversight can help to safeguard the rights and liberties of citizens and others. By
revealing abuses of authority, for instance, oversight hearings can halt executive misconduct and
help to prevent its recurrence, either directly through new legislation or indirectly by putting
pressure on the offending agency.
The general purposes of oversight—and what constitutes this function—can be stated in more
specific terms. Like the general purposes, these unavoidably overlap because of the numerous and
multifaceted dimensions of oversight. A brief list includes:
7. assess whether program design and execution maximize the delivery of services to
9. protect agencies and programs against unjustified criticisms; and
THOUGHTS ON OVERSIGHT AND ITS RATIONALE FROM . . .
James Wilson (The Works of James Wilson, 1896, vol. II, p. 29), an architect of the Constitution and Associate Justice
on the first Supreme Court:
The house of representatives . . . form the grand inquest of the state. They will diligently inquire into
grievances, arising both from men and things.
Woodrow Wilson (Congressional Government, 1885, p. 297), perhaps the first scholar to use the term “oversight”
to refer to the review and investigation of the executive branch:
Quite as important as legislation is vigilant oversight of administration.
It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk
much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its
The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.
John Stuart Mill (Considerations on Representative Government, 1861, p. 104), British utilitarian philosopher:
. . . the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the
light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one
considers questionable . . .
The Constitution grants Congress extensive authority to oversee and investigate executive branch
activities. The constitutional authority for Congress to conduct oversight stems from such explicit
and implicit provisions as:
1. The power of the purse. The Constitution provides that “No Money shall be drawn from
the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Each year the
Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate review the financial practices and
needs of federal agencies. The appropriations process allows the Congress to exercise
extensive control over the activities of executive agencies. Congress can define the precise
purposes for which money may be spent, adjust funding levels, and prohibit expenditures
for certain purposes.
reorganize, and fund federal departments and agencies. It has the authority to assign or
reassign functions to departments and agencies, and grant new forms of authority and staff
to administrators. Congress, in short, exercises ultimate authority over executive branch
organization and generally over policy.
3. The power to make all laws for “carrying into Execution” Congress’s own enumerated
powers as well as those of the executive. Article I grants Congress a wide range of powers,
such as the power to tax and coin money; regulate foreign and interstate commerce;
declare war; provide for the creation and maintenance of armed forces; and establish post
offices. Augmenting these specific powers is the so-called “Elastic Clause,” which gives
Congress the authority “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying
into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in
the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Clearly,
these provisions grant broad authority to regulate and oversee departmental activities
established by law.
4. The power to confirm officers of the United States. The confirmation process not only
involves the determination of a nominee’s suitability for an executive (or judicial) position,
but also provides an opportunity to examine the current policies and programs of an
agency along with those policies and programs that the nominee intends to pursue.
5. The power of investigation and inquiry. A traditional method of exercising the oversight
function, an implied power, is through investigations and inquiries into executive branch
operations. Legislators often seek to know how effectively and efficiently programs are
working, how well agency officials are responding to legislative directives, and how the
public perceives the programs. The investigatory method helps to ensure a more
responsible bureaucracy, while supplying Congress with information needed to formulate
6. Impeachment and removal. Impeachment provides Congress with a powerful, ultimate
oversight tool to investigate alleged executive and judicial misbehavior, and to eliminate
such misbehavior through the convictions and removal from office of the offending
THE SUPREME COURT ON CONGRESS’S POWER TO OVERSEE AND
McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 177, and 181-182 (1927):
Congress, investigating the administration of the Department of Justice during the Teapot Dome scandal,
was considering a subject “on which legislation could be had or would be materially aided by the
information which the investigation was calculated to elicit.” The “potential” for legislation was sufficient.
The majority added, “We are of [the] opinion that the power of inquiry—with the process to enforce it—is
an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.”
Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 509 (1975):
Expanding on its holding in McGrain, the Court declared, “To be a valid legislative inquiry there need be no
predictable end result.”
A number of laws directly augment Congress’s authority, mandate, and resources to conduct
oversight, including assigning specific duties to committees. Among the most important, listed
a. The 1912 act countered executive orders, issued by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and
William Howard Taft, which prohibited civil service employees from communicating
directly with Congress.
b. It also guaranteed that “the right of any persons employed in the civil service . . . to
petition Congress, or any Member thereof, or to furnish information to either House of
Congress, or to any committee or member thereof, shall not be denied or interfered
with.” 37 Stat. 555 (1912) codified at 5 U.S.C. § 7211 (1994).
c. The Whistleblowers Protection Act of 1978, as amended, makes it a prohibited personnel
practice for an agency employee to take (or not take) any action against an employee
that is in retaliation for disclosure of information that the employee believes relates to
violation of law, rule or regulation or which evidences gross mismanagement, waste,
fraud or abuse of authority (5 U.S.C. § 2302 (b) (8)). The prohibition is explicitly
intended to protect disclosures to Congress: “This subsection shall not be construed to
authorize the withholding of information from the Congress or the taking of any
personnel action against an employee who disclosures information to the Congress.”
d. Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (P.L. 105-272) establishes special
procedures for personnel in the Intelligence Community, to transmit urgent concerns
involving classified information to inspectors general and the House and Senate Select
Committees on Intelligence.
e. Section 818 of the Treasury, Transportation et al. Appropriations Act of 2005, P.L. 109-
115, 119 Stat. 2500, prohibits the payment of the salary of any officer or employee of the
Federal Government who prohibits or prevents or attempts or threatens to prohibit or
prevent, any other Federal officer or employee from having direct oral or written
communication or contact with any Member, committee or subcommittee. This
prohibition applies irrespective of whether such communication was initiated by such
officer or employee or in response to the request or inquiry of such Member, committee
or subcommittee. Further, any punishment or threat of punishment because of any
contact or communication by an officer or employee with a Member, committee, or
subcommittee is prohibited under the provisions of this act.
f. Section 820 of the Treasury, Transportation et al. Appropriations Act of 2005, P.L. 109-
115, 119 Stat. 2500, prohibits the expenditure of any appropriated funds for use in
implementing or enforcing agreement in Standard Forms 312 and 4414 of the
Government or any other non-disclosure policy form, or agreement if such policy, form,
or agreement that does not contain a provision that states that the restrictions are
consistent with and do not supercede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee
obligation, rights and liabilities created by E.O. 12958; 5 U.S.C. § 7211 (Lloyd-
LaFollette Act); 10 U.S.C. § 1034 (Military Whistleblower Act); 5 U.S.C. § 2303 (b)(8)
(Whistleblower Protection Act); 50 U.S.C. § 421 et seq. (Intelligence Identities
Protection Act); and 18 U.S.C. §§ 641, 793, 794, 798, and 952 and 50 U.S.C. § (783)(b).
renamed the Government Accountability Office in 2004.
a. Insisted that GAO “shall be independent of the executive departments and under the
control and direction of the Comptroller General of the United States.” (Emphasis
added.) 42 Stat. 23 (1921)
b. Granted authority to the Comptroller General to “investigate, at the seat of government
or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public
funds.” (Emphasis added.) 42 Stat. 26 (1921)
3. 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act
a. Mandated House and Senate committees to exercise “continuous watchfulness” of the
administration of laws and programs under their jurisdiction. (Emphasis added.) 60 Stat.
b. Authorized for the first time in history, permanent professional and clerical staff for
committees. 60 Stat. 832 (1946)
c. Authorized and directed the Comptroller General to make administrative management
analyses of each executive branch agency. 60 Stat. 837 (1946)
d. Established the Legislative Reference Service, renamed the Congressional Research
Service by the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act (see below), as a separate
department in the Library of Congress and called upon the Service “to advise and assist
any committee of either House or joint committee in the analysis, appraisal, and
evaluation of any legislative proposal . . . and otherwise to assist in furnishing a basis
for the proper determination of measures before the committee.” (Emphasis added.) 60
Stat. 836 (1946)
4. 1968 Intergovernmental Cooperation Act
a. Required that House and Senate committees having jurisdiction over grants-in-aid
conduct studies of the programs under which grants-in-aid are made. 82 Stat. 1098
b. Provided that studies of these programs are to determine whether: (1) their purposes
have been met, (2) their objectives could be carried on without further assistance, (3)
they are adequate to meet needs, and (4) any changes in programs or procedures should
be made. 82 Stat. 1098 (1968)
5. 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act
a. Revised and rephrased in more explicit language the oversight function of House and
Senate standing committees: “. . . each standing committee shall review and study, on a
continuing basis, the application, administration, and execution of those laws or parts of
laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdiction of that committee.”
(Emphasis added.) 84 Stat. 1156 (1970)
b. Required most House and Senate committees to issue biennial oversight reports. 84 Stat.
c. Strengthened the program evaluation responsibilities and other authorities and duties of
the Government Accountability Office. 84 Stat. 1168-1171 (1970)
d. Redesignated the Legislative Reference Service as the Congressional Research Service,
strengthening its policy analysis role and expanding its other responsibilities to
Congress. 84 Stat. 1181-1185 (1970)
e. Recommended that House and Senate committees ascertain whether programs within
their jurisdiction could be appropriated for annually. 84 Stat. 1174-1175 (1970)
f. Required most House and Senate committees to include in their committee reports on
legislation five-year cost estimates for carrying out the proposed program. 84 Stat. 1173-
g. Increased by two the number of permanent staff for each standing committee, including
provision for minority party hirings, and provided for hiring of consultants by standing
committees. 84 Stat. 1175-1179 (1970)
6. 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act
a. Directed House and Senate committees to make a continuing review of the activities of
each advisory committee under its jurisdiction. 86 Stat. 771 (1972)
b. The studies are to determine whether: (1) such committee should be abolished or merged
with any other advisory committee, (2) its responsibility should be revised, and (3) it
performs a necessary function not already being performed. 86 Stat. 771 (1972)
(Advisory committee charters and reports can generally be obtained from the agency or
government organization being advised.)
7. 1974 Congressional Budget Act, as amended
a. Expanded House and Senate committee authority for oversight. Permitted committees to
appraise and evaluate programs themselves “or by contract, or (to) require a
Government agency to do so and furnish a report thereon to the Congress.” 88 Stat. 325
b. Directed the Comptroller General to “review and evaluate the results of Government
programs and activities,” on his own initiative, or at the request of either House or any
standing or joint committee and to assist committees in analyzing and assessing program
reviews or evaluation studies. (Emphasis added.) Authorized GAO to establish an Office
of Program Review and Evaluation to carry out these responsibilities. 88 Stat. 326
c. Strengthened GAO’s role in acquiring fiscal, budgetary, and program-related
information. 88 Stat. 327-329 (1974)
d. Required any House or Senate legislative committee report on a public bill or resolution
to include an analysis (prepared by the Congressional Budget Office) providing an
estimate and comparison of costs which would be incurred in carrying out the bill during
the next and following four fiscal years in which it would be effective. 88 Stat. 320
e. Established House and Senate Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO director is authorized to “secure information, data, estimates, and statistics
directly from the various departments, agencies, and establishments” of the government.
8. Other noteworthy statutory provisions
Separate from expanding its own authority and resources directly, Congress has
strengthened its oversight capabilities indirectly, by, for instance, establishing study
commissions to review and evaluate programs, policies, and operations of the government.
In addition, Congress has created various mechanisms, structures, and procedures within
the executive that improve the executive’s ability to monitor and control its own operations
and, at the same time, provide additional information and oversight-related analyses to
Congress. These statutory provisions include
a. Establishing offices of inspector general in all cabinet departments, larger agencies and
numerous boards, commissions, and government corporations—Inspector General Act
of 1978, as amended, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 3
b. Establishing chief financial officers in all cabinet departments and larger agencies—
Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, 107 Stat. 2838 (1990)
c. Improving the government’s ability to manage its programs—Federal Managers’
Financial Integrity Act of 1982, 96 Stat. 814-815 (1982)
d. Improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in the exchange of funds between the
federal government and state governments—Cash Management Improvement Act of
e. Increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability within the government—
Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, 107 Stat. 285-296 (1993)
f. Improving the executive’s stewardship of federal resources and accountability—
Government Management and Reform Act of 1994, 108 Stat. 3410 (1994)
g. Controlling federal paperwork requirements—Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 109
Stat. 163 (1995)
h. Establishing the position of chief information officer in federal agencies to provide
relevant advice for purchasing the best and most cost-effective information technology
available—Information Technology Improvement Act, 110 Stat. 679 (1996)
i. Establishing uniform audit requirements for state and local governments and nonprofit
organizations receiving federal financial assistance—Single Audit Act of 1984, as
amended, 98 Stat. 2327 (1984) and 110 Stat. 679 (1996)
j. Creating a mechanism, the Congressional Review Act by which Congress can review and
disapprove virtually any federal rule or regulation—Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 110 Stat. 857-874 (1996), codified at 5 U.S.C. §§
1. House Rules
a. House rules grant the Committee on Government Reform a comprehensive role in the
conduct of oversight (Rule X, clause 4). For example, pertinent review findings and
recommendations of this committee are to be considered by the authorizing committees,
if presented to them in a timely fashion. In addition, the authorizing committees are to
indicate on the cover of their reports on public measures that they contain a summary of
such findings when that is the case (Rule XIII, clause 3).
b. The Committee on Government Reform has additional oversight duties to
(1) review and study on a continuing basis, the operation of government activities at all
levels to determine their economy and efficiency (Rule X, clause 3);
(2) receive and examine reports of the Comptroller General and submit
recommendations thereon to the House (Rule X, clause 4);
(3) evaluate the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive
branches of the government (Rule X, clause 4);
(4) study intergovernmental relationships between the United States and states,
municipalities, and international organizations of which the United States is a
member (Rule X, clause 4); and
(5) report an oversight agenda, not later than March 31 of the first session of a
Congress, based upon oversight plans submitted by each standing committee and
after consultation with the Speaker of the House, the majority leader, and the
minority leader. The oversight agenda is to include the oversight plans of each
standing committee together with any recommendations that it or the House
leadership group may make to ensure the most effective coordination of such plans
(Rule X, clause 2).
c. House rules mandate or provide authority for other oversight efforts by standing
(1) Each standing committee (except Appropriations and Budget) shall review and study
on a continuing basis the application, administration, and execution of all laws
within its legislative jurisdiction (Rule X, clause 2).
(2) Committees have the authority to review the impact of tax policies on matters that
fall within their jurisdiction (Rule X, clause 2).
(3) Each committee (except Appropriations and Budget) has a responsibility for futures
research and forecasting (Rule X, clause 2).
(4) Specified committees have special oversight authority (i.e., the right to conduct
comprehensive reviews of specific subject areas that are within the legislative
jurisdiction of other committees). Special oversight is akin to the broad oversight
authority granted the Committee on Government Reform, by the 1946 Legislature
Reorganization Act, except that special oversight is generally limited to named
subjects (Rule X, clause 3).
(5) Each standing committee having more than 20 members shall establish an oversight
subcommittee, or require its subcommittees, if any, to conduct oversight in their
jurisdictional areas; a committee that establishes such a subcommittee may add it as
a sixth subcommittee, beyond the usual limit of five (Rule X, clauses 2 and 5).
(6) Committee reports on measures are to include oversight findings separately set out
and clearly identified (Rule XIII, clause 3).
(7) Costs of stenographic services and transcripts for oversight hearings are to be paid
“from the applicable accounts of the House” (Rule XI, clause 1).
(8) Each standing committee is to submit its oversight plans for the duration of a
Congress by February 15 of the first session to the Committee on Government
Reform and the Committee on House Administration. Not later than March 31, the
Government Reform Committee must report an oversight agenda (discussed above).
In developing such plans, each standing committee must, to the extent feasible (Rule
X, clause 2):
(a) consult with other committees of the House that have jurisdiction over the same
or related laws, programs, or agencies within its jurisdiction, with the objective
of ensuring that such laws, programs, or agencies are reviewed in the same
Congress and that there is a maximum of coordination between such committees
in the conduct of such reviews; and such plans shall include an explanation of
what steps have been and will be taken to ensure such coordination and
(b) give priority consideration to including in its plans the review of those laws,
programs, or agencies operating under permanent budget authority or permanent
statutory authority; and
(c) have a view toward ensuring that all significant laws, programs, or agencies
within its jurisdiction are subject to review at least once every 10 years.
(9) Each committee must submit to the House, not later than January 2 of each odd-
numbered year, a report on the activities of that committee for the Congress (Rule
XI, clause 1):
(a) Such report must include separate sections summarizing the legislative and
oversight activities of that committee during that Congress.
(b) The oversight section of such report must include a summary of the oversight
plans submitted by the committee at the beginning of the Congress, a summary
of the actions taken and recommendations made with respect to each such plan,
and a summary of any additional oversight activities undertaken by that
committee, and any recommendations made or actions taken thereon.
d. The Speaker, with the approval of the House, is given additional authority to “appoint
special ad hoc oversight committees for the purpose or reviewing specific matters within
the jurisdiction of two or more standing committees.” (Emphasis added.) (Rule X, clause
2. Senate Rules
a. Each standing committee (except for Appropriations and Budget) must review and study
on a continuing basis, the application, administration, and execution of all laws within
its legislative jurisdiction (Rule XXVI, clause 8).
b. “Comprehensive policy oversight” responsibilities are granted to specified standing
committees. This duty is similar to special oversight in the House. The Committee on
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, for example, is authorized to “study and review, on
a comprehensive basis, matters relating to food, nutrition, and hunger, both in the United
States and in foreign countries, and rural affairs, and report thereon from time to time
(Rule XXV, clause 1a).”
c. All standing committees, except Appropriations, are required to prepare regulatory
impact evaluations in their committee reports accompanying each public bill or joint
resolution (Rule XXVI, clause 11). The evaluations are to include:
(1) an estimate of the numbers of individuals and businesses to be affected;
(2) a determination of the measure’s economic impact and effect on personal privacy;
(3) a determination of the amount of additional paperwork that will result.
d. The Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has the following
additional oversight duties (Rule XXV, clause 1k):
(1) review and study on a continuing basis the operation of government activities at all
levels to determine their economy and efficiency;
(2) receive and examine reports of the Comptroller General and submit
recommendations thereon to the Senate;
(3) evaluate the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive
branches of the government; and
(4) study intergovernmental relationships between the United States and states,
municipalities, and international organizations of which the United States is a
(5) On March 1, 1948 of the 80th Congress, the Senate adopted S. Res. 189, which
established the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the then titled
Committee on Government Operations. The Subcommittee was an outgrowth of the
famous 1941 Truman Committee (after Senator Harry Truman) which investigated
fraud and mismanagement of the nation’s war program. The Truman Committee
ended in 1948, but the chairman of the Government Operations Committee made the
functions of the Truman panel one of his subcommittees: the Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations. Since then this subcommittee has investigated
scores of issues, such as government waste, fraud, and inefficiency.
1. Members. Oversight is generally considered a committee activity. However, both casework
and other project work conducted in a Member’s personal office can result in findings
about bureaucratic behavior and policy implementation; these, in turn, can lead to the
adjustment of agency policies and procedures and to changes in public law.
(a) Casework—responding to constituent requests for assistance on projects or complaints
or grievances about program implementation provides an opportunity to examine
bureaucratic activity and operations, if only in a selective way.
(b) Sometimes individual Members will conduct their own investigations or ad hoc
hearings, or direct their staffs to conduct oversight studies. Individual Members have
no authority to issue compulsory process or conduct official hearings. The Government
Accountability Office or some other legislative branch agency, a specially created task
force, or private research group might be requested to conduct an investigation of a
matter for a Senator or Representative.
2. Committees. The most common and effective method of conducting oversight is through
the committee structure. Throughout their histories, the House and Senate have used their
standing committees as well as select or special committees to investigate federal activities
and agencies along with other matters.
(a) The House Committee on Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs, which have oversight jurisdiction over virtually the
entire federal government, have been vested with broad investigatory powers over
(b) The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations have similar responsibilities
when reviewing fiscal activities.
(c) Each standing committee of Congress has oversight responsibilities to review
government activities within their jurisdiction. These panels also have authority on
their own to establish oversight and investigative subcommittees. The establishment of
such subcommittees does not preclude the legislative subcommittees from conducting
(d) Certain House and Senate committees have “special oversight” or “comprehensive
policy oversight” of designated subject areas as explained in the previous subsection.
1. Personal Staff. Constituent letters, complaints, and requests for projects and assistance
frequently bring problems and deficiencies in federal programs and administration to the
attention of Members and their personal office staffs. The casework performed by a
Member’s staff for constituents can be an effective oversight tool.
(a) Casework can be an important vehicle for pursuing both the oversight and legislative
interests of the Member. The Senator or Representative and the staff may be attuned to
the relationship between casework and the oversight function. This is facilitated by a
regular exchange of ideas among the Member, legislative aides, and caseworkers on
problems brought to the office’s attention by constituents, and of possible legislative
initiatives to resolve those problems.
(b) If casework is to be useful as an oversight technique, effective staffing and coordination
are needed. Casework and legislative staffs maximize service to their Member’s
constituents when they establish a relationship with the staff of the subcommittees and
committees that handle the areas of concern to the Member’s constituents. Through this
interaction, the panel’s staff can be made aware of the problems with the agency or
program in question, assess how widespread and significant they are, determine their
causes, and recommend corrective action.
(c) Office procedures enable staff in some offices to identify cases that represent a situation
in which formal changes in agency procedure could be an appropriate remedy. Prompt
congressional inquiry and follow up enhance this type of oversight. Telephone inquiries
reinforced with written requests tend to ensure agency attention.
professional staffs of committees can provide the expert help required to conduct oversight
and investigations. Committee staff typically have the experience and expertise to conduct
effective oversight for the committees and subcommittees they serve. Committees may
also call upon legislative support agencies for assistance, hire consultants, or “borrow”
staff from federal departments.
Committee staff, in summary, occupy a central position in the conduct of oversight. The
informal contacts with executive officials at all levels constitute one of Congress’s most
effective devices for performing its “continuous watchfulness” function.
1. Of the agencies in the legislative branch, three directly assist Congress in support of its
oversight function. (See “Section V” below for further detail on each):
(a) Congressional Budget Office (CBO),
(b) Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress, and
(c) Government Accountability Office (GAO), formerly the General Accounting Office.
2. Additional offices that can assist in oversight are
(a) House General Counsel’s Office,
(b) House Parliamentarian’s Office,
(c) House Clerk’s Office,
(d) Senate Legal Counsel’s Office, and
(e) Senate Historian’s Office and Senate Library
Aberbach, Joel D. Keeping a Watchful Eye: The Politics of Congressional Oversight.
Washington: Brookings Institution, 1990. JK585.A63
Congressional Oversight: Methods and Techniques. Committee Print, Prepared for the
Subcommittee on Oversight Procedures of the Senate Committee on Government Operations thnd
by the Congressional Research Service and the General Accounting Office, 94 Congress, 2
session. Washington: GPO, 1976.
Ehlke, Richard. Congressional Access to Information From the Executive: A Legal Analysis. CRS
Report 86-50A, March 10, 1986.
Fisher, Louis. Constitutional Conflicts between Congress and the President. Lawrence, Kansas: th
University Press of Kansas, 1997, 4 Revised Edition.
Foreman, Christopher H. Signals from the Hill: Congressional Oversight and the Challenge of
Social Regulation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
Hamilton, James. The Power to Probe: A Study of Congressional Investigations. New York:
Vintage Books, 1976.
Harris, Joseph P. Congressional Control of Administration. Washington: Brookings Institution,
History of the United States House of Representatives, 1789-1994. H.Doc. 103-324, 103rd nd
Congress, 2 session. Washington: GPO, 1994. Chapter XI, “Oversight,” pp. 233-266.
CRS Report 97-936, Congressional Oversight, by Frederick M. Kaiser, January 2, 2001.
——. Congressional Oversight of the Presidency. Annals, vol. 499, September 1988, pp. 75-89.
Leading Cases on Congressional Investigatory Power (Compiled by the Joint Committee on thnd
Congressional Operations). Committee Print, 94 Congress, 2 session. Washington: GPO,
CRS Report RL32113, Congressional Intervention in the Administrative Process: Legal and
Ethical Considerations, by Morton Rosenberg and Jack Maskell, September 25, 2003.
Mayhew, David R. Divided We Govern: Party Control, Lawmaking, and Investigations, 1946-
McCubbins, Mathew D. and Thomas Schwartz. Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police
Patrol Versus Fire Alarms. American Journal of Political Science, vol. 2, February 1984, pp.
National Academy of Public Administration. Panel on Congress and the Executive. Beyond
Distrust: Building Bridges Between Congress and the Executive. Washington: NAPA, 1992.
Ogul, Morris S. Congress Oversees the Bureaucracy: Studies in Legislative Supervision.
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976. JK585.048
Oleszek, Walter J. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, 6th ed. Washington:
Congressional Quarterly Press, 2004. Chapter 10, Legislative Oversight. KF4937.O44
——. CRS Report RL32617, A Perspective on Congress’s Oversight Function, September 30,
Ornstein, Norman F. and Thomas E. Mann. When Congress Checks Out. Foreign Affairs, vol. 85,
Rosenberg, Morton. Congress’s Prerogative Over Agencies and Agency Decisionmakers: The
Rise and Demise of the Reagan Administration’s Theory of the Unitary Executive. George
Washington Law Review, vol. 57, January 1989, pp. 627-703.
——. Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking: An Update and Assessment of the
Congressional Review Act After Ten Years. CRS Report RL30116, March 29, 2006.
——. CRS Report 95-464, Investigative Oversight: An Introduction to the Law, Practice and
Procedure of Congressional Inquiry, April 7, 1995.
Rosenbloom, David H. Building a Legislative-Centered Public Administration: Congress and the
Administrative State, 1946-1999. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: The University of Alabama Press, 2000.
Schlesinger, Arthur M. and Roger Bruns, eds. Congress Investigates: A Documented History,
Study on Federal Regulation: Congressional Oversight of Regulatory Agencies. Senate Doc. 95-thst
U.S. General Accounting Office. Investigators’ Guide to Sources of Information. GAO Report
OSI-97-2. Washington: GAO, 1997.
West, William F. Controlling the Bureaucracy: Institutional Constraints in Theory and Practice.
Armonk, New York and London, England: M.E. Sharpe: 1995.
A persistent problem for Congress in conducting oversight is coordination among committees,
both within each chamber as well as between the two houses. As the final report of the House rd
Select Committee on Committees of the 93 Congress noted, “Review findings and
recommendations developed by one committee are seldom shared on a timely basis with another
committee, and, if they are made available, then often the findings are transmitted in a form that
is difficult for Members to use.” Despite the passage of time, this statement remains relevant
today. Oversight coordination between House and Senate committees is also uncommon; and it
occurs primarily in the aftermath of perceived major policy failures or prominent inter-branch
conflicts, as with the Iran-contra affair (1986) and the 9/11 terrorist attacks (2001-2002).
Intercommittee cooperation on oversight can prove beneficial for a variety of reasons. It should,
for example, minimize unnecessary duplication and conflict and inhibit agencies from playing
one committee off against another. There are formal and informal ways to achieve oversight
coordination among committees.
1. The House and Senate can establish select or special committees to probe issues and
agencies, to promote public understanding of national concerns, and to coordinate
oversight of issues that overlap the jurisdiction of several standing committees.
2. House rules require the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Government
Reform to be considered by the authorizing committees if presented to them in a timely
fashion. Such findings and recommendations are to be published in the authorizing
committees’ reports on legislation. House rules also require the oversight plans of
committees to include ways to maximize coordination between and among committees that
share jurisdiction over related laws, programs, or agencies.
2. Informal agreement among committees to oversee certain agencies and not others. For
example, the House and Senate Committees on Commerce agreed to hold oversight
hearings on certain regulatory agencies in alternate years.
3. Consultation between the authorizing and appropriating committees. The two Committees
on Commerce have worked closely and successfully with their corresponding
appropriations subcommittees to alert those panels to the authorizing committees’ intent
with respect to regulatory ratemaking by such agencies as the Federal Communications
1. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, as amended, enhanced
the legislative branch’s capacity to shape the federal budget. The act has major institutional
and procedural effects on Congress:
a. Institutionally, Congress created three new entities:
(1) the Senate Committee on the Budget;
(2) the House Committee on the Budget; and
(3) the Congressional Budget Office.
b. Procedurally, the act established methods that permit Congress to:
(1) determine budget policy as a whole;
(2) relate revenue and spending decisions;
(3) determine priorities among competing national programs; and
(4) ensure that revenue, spending, and debt legislation are consistent with the overall
2. The new budget process coexists with the established authorization and appropriation
procedures and significantly affects each.
a. On the authorization side, the Budget Act requires committees to submit their budgetary
“views and estimates” for matters under their jurisdiction to their Committee on the
Budget within six weeks after the President submits a budget.
b. On the appropriations side, new contract and borrowing authority must go through the
appropriations process. Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees are assigned a
financial allocation that determines how much may be included in the measures they
report, although less than one-third of federal spending is subject to the annual
appropriations process. (The tax and appropriations panels of each house also submit
budgetary views and estimates to their respective Committee on the Budget.)
c. In deciding spending, revenue, credit, and debt issues, Congress is sensitive to trends in
the overall composition of the annual federal budget (expenditures for defense,
entitlements, interest on the debt, and domestic discretionary programs).
3. In short, the Budget Act has the potential of strengthening oversight by enabling Congress
better to relate program priorities to financial claims on the national budget. Each
committee, knowing that it will receive a fixed amount of the total to be included in a
budget resolution, has an incentive to scrutinize existing programs to make room for new
programs or expanded funding of ongoing projects or to assess whether programs have
outlived their usefulness.
1. Through its authorization power, Congress exercises significant control over any
and reports—but the key to the process is the authorization statute.
a. An authorization statute creates and shapes government programs and agencies and it
contains the statement of legislative policy for the agency.
b. Authorization is the first lever in congressional exercise of the power of the purse; it
usually allows an agency to be funded, but it does not guarantee financing of agencies
and programs. Frequently, authorizations establish dollar ceilings on the amounts that
can be appropriated.
a. Through this process, Members are educated about the work of an agency and given an
opportunity to direct the agency’s effort in light of experience.
b. Expiration of an agency’s program provides an excellent chance for in-depth oversight:
(1) In recent decades, there has been a mix of permanent and periodic (annual or multi-
year) authorizations, although some reformers are now pressing for biennial
budgeting (acting on a two-year cycle for authorizations, appropriations, and budget
(2) Periodic authorizations improve the likelihood that an agency will be scrutinized
4. In addition to formal amendment of the agency’s authorizing statute, the authorization
process gives committees an opportunity to exercise informal, nonstatutory controls over
a. Knowledge by an agency that it must come to the legislative committee for renewed
authority increases the influence of the committee.
b. This condition helps to account for the appeal of short-term authorizations.
c. Non-statutory controls used by committees to exercise direction over the administration
of laws include statements made in:
(1) committee hearings;
(2) committee reports accompanying legislation;
(3) floor debates; and
(4) committee contacts and correspondence with the agency.
5. If agencies fail to comply with these informal directives, the authorization committees can
apply sanctions or move to convert the informal directive to a statutory command.
a. Its strategic position stems from the constitutional requirement that “no Money shall be
drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
b. Congress’s power of the purse allows the House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations to play a prominent role in oversight.
2. The oversight function of the Committees on Appropriations derives from their
responsibility to examine and pass on the budget requests of the agencies as contained in
the President’s Budget.
a. The decisions of the committees are conditioned on their assessment of the agencies’
need for their budget request as indicated by past performance.
b. In practice, the entire record of an agency is fair game for the required assessment.
c. This comprehensive overview and the “carrot and stick” of the appropriations
recommendations make the committees significant focal points of congressional
oversight and is a key source of their power in Congress and in the federal government
3. Enacted appropriations legislation frequently contains at least five types of statutory
controls on agencies:
a. Such legislation specifies the purpose for which funds may be used.
b. It defines the specified funding level for the agency as a whole as well as for programs
and divisions within the agency.
c. It sets time limits on the availability of funds for obligation.
d. Appropriations legislation may contain limitation provisions. For example, in
appropriating $350 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for research and
development, Congress added this condition: “Provided, That not more than
$55,000,000 of these funds shall be available for procurement of laboratory equipment,
supplies, and other operating expenses in support of research and development.” 108
Stat. 2319 (1994).
e. Appropriations measures and committee reports also stipulate how an agency’s budget
can be reprogrammed (shifting funds within an appropriations account; see box below).
4. Nonstatutory controls are a major form of oversight. Legislative language in committee
reports and in hearings, letters to agency heads, and other communications give detailed
instructions to agencies regarding committee expectations and desires. Agencies are not
legally obligated to abide by non-statutory recommendations, but failure to do so may
result in a loss of funds and flexibility the following year. Agencies ignore nonstatutory
controls at their peril (see box).
The conference report for the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for FY1999
provides guidelines for the reprogramming and transfer of funds for the Treasury and General Government
Appropriations Act, 1999. Each request from an agency to the review committee “shall include a declaration that, as
of the date of the request, none of the funds included in the request have been obligated, and none will be obligated,
until the Committees on Appropriations have approved the request.” H.Rept. 105-825, p. 1472 (1998).
a. Numerous Supreme Court decisions have upheld the legislative branch’s right of inquiry,
provided it stays within its legitimate legislative sphere.
b. The roots of Congress’s authority to conduct investigations extend back to the British
Parliament and colonial assemblies.
c. In addition, the Framers clearly perceived the House of Representatives to function as a
“grand inquest.” Since the Framers expected lawmakers to employ the investigatory
function, based upon parliamentary precedents, it was unnecessary to invest Congress
with an explicit investigatory power.
d. From time to time, legal questions have been raised about the investigative authority of
Congress. However, numerous Supreme Court decisions have upheld the legislative
branch’s right of inquiry, provided it serves a legitimate legislative interest.
a. individual Members;
b. committees and subcommittees;
c. staff or outside organizations and personnel under contract; or
d. congressional support agencies.
a. they help to ensure honesty and efficiency in the administration of laws;
b. they secure information that assists Congress in making informed policy judgments; and
c. they may aid in informing the public about the administration of laws.
[See Section III for greater detail and analysis]
By establishing a public record of the policy views of nominees, congressional hearings allow
lawmakers to call appointed officials to account at a later time. Since at least the Ethics in
Government Act of 1978, which encouraged greater scrutiny of nominations, Senate committees
are setting aside more time to probe the qualifications, independence, and policy predilections of
presidential nominees, seeking information on everything from physical health to financial assets.
Confirmation can assist in oversight in several ways.
1. The Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice
and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,
Judges of the supreme court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose
Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by
Law.” (Emphasis added.)
a. The consideration of appointments to executive branch leadership positions is a major
responsibility of the Senate and especially of Senate committees.
b. Panels review the qualifications of nominees for public positions.
2. The confirmation hearing provides a forum for the discussion of the policies and programs
the nominee intends to pursue; this is a classic opportunity for senatorial oversight and
influence. The confirmation process as an oversight tool can be used to:
a. provide policy direction to nominees;
b. inform nominees of congressional interests; and
c. extract future commitments.
3. Once a nominee has been confirmed by the Senate, oversight includes following up to
ensure that the nominee fulfills any commitments made during confirmation hearings.
Subsequent hearings and committee investigations can explore whether such commitments
have been kept.
4. Recess Appointments. The Constitution provides that the President “shall have Power to fill
up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting
Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” When Presidents relied
on this power to circumvent Senate confirmation, Congress responded with legislation that
prohibits, with certain exceptions, the payment of salaries to recess appointees. 54 Stat.
751 (1940); 5 U.S.C. § 5503 (2004). Also, in the annual Treasury, Transportation, Housing
and Urban Development Appropriations Act, Congress enacts an additional funding
restriction on recess appointees (see box).
No part of any appropriation for the current fiscal year contained in this or any other Act shall be paid to any person
for the filling of any position for which he or she has been nominated after the Senate has voted not to approve the
nomination of said person. 114 Stat. 2763A-157, sec. 609 (2000).
5. Vacancies Act. In addition to making recess appointments, Presidents make other
temporary or interim appointments. Since 1795, Congress has legislated limits on the time
a temporary officer may occupy a vacant advice and consent position. In 1868, Congress
established a procedure for filling vacancies in advice and consent positions through the
Vacancies Act. When the head of an executive department dies, resigns, or is sick or
absent, the next in command may perform the duties until a successor is appointed or the
absence ceases. The President may also direct someone else (previously appointed with the
advice and consent of the Senate) to perform the duties. These acting officials, under the
Vacancies Act, were restricted by law to a period of not to exceed 30 days. That limit was
violated with such frequency that Congress in 1988 increased it to 120 days. 102 Stat. 988,
sec. 7 (1988); 5 U.S.C. §§ 3345-48 (2004).
The Justice Department took the position that some executive officials were not restricted
by the Vacancies Act and could serve beyond the 120-day period. Under that interpretation,
the Administration selected Bill Lann Lee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights
Division, and argued that he could serve longer than had he been a recess appointee.
Congress responded by passing legislation in 1998 to make the Vacancies Act the exclusive
vehicle for temporarily filling vacant advice and consent positions. The new Vacancies Act,
included in the FY1999 Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental
Appropriations Act (P.L. 105-277), rejects the Justice Department position and established
procedures for the appointment of executive officials who temporarily hold an office. With
various exceptions, the 120-day period has been replaced by a 210-day period.
1. The impeachment power of Congress is a unique oversight tool, reserved for unusual
circumstances and as a technique of last resort when conventional forms of oversight fail.
Impeachment applies also to the judiciary. Impeachment offers Congress:
a. a constitutionally mandated method for obtaining information that might otherwise not
be made available by the executive; and
b. an implied threat of punishment for an executive official whose conduct exceeds
a. The most significant procedural differences center on the roles played by each house of
b. The House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach. A majority is required to
c. If the House votes to impeach, the person is tried by the Senate, which has the sole
power to try an impeachment. A two-thirds majority is required to convict and remove
the individual. Should the Senate deem it appropriate in a given case, it may, by majority
vote, impose an additional judgment of disqualification from further federal offices of
honor, trust, or profit.
d. In Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 226 (1993), the Supreme Court held nonjusticiable a
constitutional challenge to the use by the Senate in an impeachment proceeding of a 12-
member committee appointed to take testimony and gather evidence. Such a committee
makes no recommendations as to the ultimate question before the Senate. Nor does the
committee rule on questions of relevancy, materiality, and competency. Rather, it reports
a certified copy of the transcript of the proceedings before the committee and any
evidence received by the committee to the full Senate for its consideration. The full
Senate may take further testimony or evidence, or it may hold the entire trial in open
Senate. In either event, the full Senate determines whether to convict on one or more of
the articles of impeachment involved and, upon conviction, decides the appropriate
judgment to be imposed.
3. The impeachment process is cumbersome and infrequently used. The House has voted to
impeach in 17 cases, 16 of which have reached the Senate, and 15 of which have gone to a
vote on one or more articles of impeachment. Seven cases, all pertaining to federal judges,
have resulted in conviction and removal; two of these also resulted in disqualification. The
most recent impeachment trial was that of President Clinton in 1998-99; the most recent
judicial impeachment trials were those of Judges Claiborne, Hastings, and Nixon in 1986,
1988 and 1989, respectively. A number of issues were addressed in the Clinton
impeachment trial and other past impeachment proceedings, although the answers to some
still remain somewhat ambiguous. For example:
a. An impeachment may be continued from one Congress to the next, although the
procedural steps vary depending upon the stage in the process.
b. The Constitution defines the grounds for impeachment as “Treason, Bribery, or other
high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” However, the meaning and scope of “high Crimes and
Misdemeanors” remains in dispute and depends on the interpretation of individual
c. The Constitution provides for impeachment of the “President, Vice President, and all
civil Officers of the United States.” While the outer limits of the “civil Officers”
language are not altogether clear, past precedents suggest that it covers at least federal
judges and executive officers subject to the Appointments Clause.
d. Members of the House and Senate are not subject to impeachment because they are not
“civil officers.” William Blount, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, was impeached by the
House in 1797, but the Senate chose to expel him instead of conducting an impeachment
The Budget Process
Fisher, Louis. Presidential Spending Power. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975.
345 p. HJ257.2.F57
CRS Report 98-720, Manual on the Federal Budget Process, by Robert Keith and Allen Schick,
August 25, 1998.
Schick, Allen. Congress and Money. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 1980. 604 p. HJ2051.S34
Wilmerding, Lucius, Jr. The Spending Power: A History of the Efforts of Congress to Control
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Authorization and Appropriation Processes
Devins, Neal E. “Regulation of Government Agencies Through Limitation Riders,” Duke Law
Journal, v. 1987, 1987:456.
Fisher, Louis. “Annual Authorizations: Durable Roadblocks to Biennial Budgeting,” Public
Budgeting & Finance, v. 3, Spring 1983: 24.
——. “The Authorization-Appropriation Process in Congress: Formal Rules and Informal
Practices,” Catholic University Law Review, v. 29, 1979: 51.
Fenno, Richard F., Jr. The Power of the Purse. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1966. 704 p.
LeBoeuf, Jacques B. “Limitations on the Use of Appropriations Riders by Congress to Effectuate
Substantive Policy Changes,” Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, v. 19, Winter 1992:
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and the Executive Agencies,” Public Budgeting & Finance, v. 4, Winter 1984: 78.
U.S. General Accounting Office, Office of the General Counsel. Principles of Federal
Appropriations Law. Vols. I, II, and III. 2004.
The Investigatory Process [See Section III]
The Confirmation Process
Carter, Stephen L. The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process. New
York: Basic Books, 1994. 252 p. JK736.C37
Fisher, Louis. Recess Appointments of Federal Judges. CRS Report RL3112, September 5, 2001.
Gerhardt, Michael J. The Federal Appointments Process. Durham and London: Duke University
Press, 2000. 400 p. JK731.G47
——. “Toward a Comprehensive Understanding of the Federal Appointments Process,” Harvard
Journal of Law and Public Policy, v. 21, no. 4, 1998: 468.
Harris, Joseph P. The Advice and Consent of the Senate: A Study of the Confirmation of
Appointments by the United States Senate. Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press,
1953. 457 p. JK1274.H3
Hogue, Henry. “The Law: Recess Appointments to Article III Courts,” Presidential Studies
Quarterly, v. 34, 2004: 656.
Haynes, George H. The Senate of the United States: Its History and Practice. Boston, Mass.:
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1938. 2 vols. 1118 p. JK1161.H28
Kim, Haeryon. “Congressional Influence on the FCC: An Analysis of Confirmation Hearings for
Commission Chairmen, 1969-1989,” Communications and the Law, v. 15, 1993: 37.
Mackenzie, G. Calvin. The Politics of Presidential Appointments. New York: The Free Press,
1981. 298 p. JK736.M33
CRS Report RL32551, 9/11 Commission Recommendations: The Senate Confirmation Process
for Presidential Nominees, by Betsy Palmer, August 30, 2004.
CRS Report 98-892, The New Vacancies Act: Congress Acts to Protect the Senate’s Confirmation
Prerogative, by Morton Rosenberg, November 2, 1998.
Ross, William G. “The Senate’s Constitutional Role in Confirming Cabinet Nominees and Other
Executive Officials,” Syracuse Law Review, vol. 48, 1998: 1123.
The Impeachment Process
Bazan, Elizabeth B. Impeachment: An Overview of Constitutional Provisions, Procedure, and
Practice. CRS Report 99-186, February 27, 1998.
Black, Charles L., Jr. Impeachment: A Handbook. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press,
1974. 80 p. LC 73-92315
Bushnell, Eleanor. Crimes, Follies, and Misfortunes: The Federal Impeachment Trials. Urbana,
Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1992. 380 p. KF8781.B87
Gerhardt, Michael J. The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996. 233 p.
Labowitz, John R. Presidential Impeachment. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. 257 p.
Maskell, Jack. Censure of the President by the Congress. CRS Report 98-343, December 8, 1998.
Posner, Richard A. An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President
Clinton. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. 276 p.
Rae, Nicol C. and Colton C. Campbell. Impeaching Clinton: Partisan Strife on Capitol Hill.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 234 p.
Rehnquist, William H. Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and
President Andrew Johnson. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1992. 303 p. E302.6C4R44
U.S. Congress. “Impeachment: Selected Materials,” Committee on the Judiciary, House of rdst
Representatives, 93 Congress, 1 session, October 1973. 718 p.
——. “Impeachment: Selected Materials on Procedure,” Committee on the Judiciary, House of rdnd
Representatives, 93 Congress, 2 session, January 1974. 900 p.
——. “Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment: Modern Precedents,” Committee on the thnd
Judiciary, House of Representatives, 105 Congress, 2 session, Ser. No. 9, November 1998.
——. “Impeachment: Selected Materials,” Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, thnd
Congressional investigations, often adversarial and confrontational, sustain and vindicate
Congress’s role in our constitutional scheme of separated powers. The rich history of
congressional investigations, from the failed St. Clair expedition in 1792 through Teapot Dome,
Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Whitewater, has established, in law and practice, the nature and
contours of congressional prerogatives necessary to maintain the integrity of the legislative role in
that constitutional scheme.
This section provides a brief overview of some of the more common legal, procedural, and
practical issues that committees face in the course of an investigation. Following a summary of
the case law developing the scope and limitations of the power of inquiry, the essential tools of
investigative oversight—subpoenas, staff interviews and depositions, grants of immunity, and the
contempt power—are described. Next, some of the special problems of investigating the
executive branch are detailed, with particular emphasis on claims of presidential executive
privilege and agency assertions of common law testimonial privileges. The section concludes
with a discussion of the role of the minority in the investigatory process.
Numerous Supreme Court precedents recognize a broad and encompassing power in Congress to
engage in oversight and investigation that would reach all sources of information necessary for
carrying out its legislative function. In the absence of a countervailing constitutional privilege or
a self-imposed statutory restriction upon its authority, Congress and its committees have plenary
power to compel information needed to discharge its legislative function from executive agencies,
private persons, and organizations. Within certain constraints, the information so obtained may be
Although there is no express provision of the Constitution that specifically authorizes Congress to
conduct investigations and take testimony for the purposes of performing its legitimate functions,
numerous decisions of the Supreme Court have firmly established that the investigatory power of
Congress is so essential to the legislative function as to be implied from the general vesting of 1
legislative power in Congress. Thus, in Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fund, the Court
explained that “[t]he scope of its power of inquiry . . . is as penetrating and far-reaching as the
1 McGrain v. Daugherty, 272 U.S. 135 (1927).
potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.”2 In Watkins v. United States, the
Court described the breadth of the power of inquiry: “The power of the Congress to conduct
investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. It encompasses inquiries 3
concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.”
The Court went on to emphasize that Congress’s investigative power is at its peak when the
subject is alleged waste, fraud, abuse, or maladministration within a government department. The
investigative power, it stated, “comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government 4
to expose corruption, inefficiency, or waste.”
But while the congressional power of inquiry is broad, it is not unlimited. The Supreme Court has
admonished that the power to investigate may be exercised only “in aid of the legislative 5
function” and cannot be used to expose for the sake of exposure alone. The Watkins Court
underlined these limitations: “There is no general authority to expose the private affairs of
individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress . . . nor is the Congress
a law enforcement or trial agency. These are functions of the executive and judicial departments
of government. No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a 6
legitimate task of the Congress.” Moreover, an investigating committee has only the power to 7
inquire into matters within the scope of the authority delegated to it by its parent body. But once
having established its jurisdiction and authority and the pertinence of the matter under inquiry to
its area of authority, a committee’s investigative purview is substantial and wide-ranging.
The power of inquiry, with the accompanying process to enforce it, has been deemed “an 8
essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.” A properly authorized subpoena
issued by a committee or subcommittee has the same force and effect as a subpoena issued by the
parent House itself. To validly issue a subpoena, individual committees or subcommittees must be
delegated this authority. Senate Rule XXVI(1) and House Rule XI(2)(m)(1) presently empower
all standing committees and subcommittees to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses
and the production of documents. Special or select committees must be specifically delegated that
authority by Senate or House resolution. The rules or practices of standing committees may
restrict the issuance of subpoenas only to full committees or in certain instances allow issuance
by a committee chairman alone, with or without the concurrence of the ranking minority 9
2 421 U.S. at 504, footnote 15 (quoting Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 111).
3 354 U.S. 178, 187 (1957).
5 Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 204 (1880).
6 Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. at 187.
7 United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, 42, 44 (1953); Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. at 198.
8 McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. at 174-75.
9 See, e.g., House Committee on Government Reform Rule 18 (d); Senate Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Rule 5.C.
Congressional subpoenas are most frequently served by the U.S. marshal’s office or by committee
staff, or less frequently by the Senate or House Sergeants-At-Arms. Service may be effected
anywhere in the United States. The subpoena power reaches aliens in the United States. Securing
compliance of United States nationals and aliens living in foreign countries presents more
A witness seeking to challenge the legal sufficiency of a subpoena has only limited remedies to
raise objections. The Supreme Court has ruled that courts may not enjoin the issuance of a 10
congressional subpoena, holding that the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution provides 11
“an absolute bar to judicial interference” with such compulsory process. As a consequence, a
witness’s sole remedy generally is to refuse to comply, risk being cited for contempt, and then
raise the objections as a defense in a contempt prosecution.
Challenges to the legal sufficiency of subpoenas must overcome formidable judicial obstacles.
The standard to be applied in determining whether the congressional investigating power has 12
been properly asserted was articulated in Wilkinson v. United States: (1) the committee’s
investigation of the broad subject matter area must be authorized by Congress; (2) the
investigation must be pursuant to “a valid legislative purpose;” and (3) the specific inquiries must
be pertinent to the broad subject matter areas which have been authorized by the Congress. As to
the requirement of “valid legislative purpose,” the Supreme Court has made it clear that Congress 13
does not have to state explicitly what it intends to do as a result of an investigation. (See model
subpoena at Appendix A.)
Committees normally rely on informal staff interviews to gather information preparatory to
investigations hearings. However, with more frequency in recent years, when specially
authorized, congressional committees have utilized staff-conducted depositions as a tool in
exercising the investigatory power. Staff depositions afford a number of significant advantages
for committees engaged in complex investigations. Staff depositions may assist committees in
obtaining sworn testimony quickly and confidentially without the necessity of Members devoting
time to lengthy hearings that may be unproductive because witnesses do not have the facts needed
by the committee or refuse to cooperate. Depositions are conducted in private and may be more
conducive to candid responses than would be the case at a public hearing. Statements made by
witnesses that might defame or even tend to incriminate third parties can be verified before they
are repeated in an open hearing. Depositions can prepare a committee for the questioning of
witnesses at a hearing or provide a screening process that can obviate the need to call some
witnesses. The deposition process also allows questioning of witnesses outside of Washington,
D.C., thereby avoiding the inconvenience of conducting field hearings requiring the presence of
10 U.S. CONST. Art. I, Sec. 6, cl. 1.
11 Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 503-07 (1975).
12 365 U.S. 399, 408-09 (1961).
13 In re Chapman, 166 U.S. 661, 669 (1897).
Moreover, Congress has enhanced the efficacy of the staff deposition process by re-establishing
the applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 to false statements made during congressional proceedings, 14
including the taking of depositions.
Certain disadvantages may also inhere. Unrestrained staff may be tempted to engage in tangential
inquiries. Also, depositions present a “cold record” of a witness’s testimony and may not be as
useful for Members as in-person presentations.
At present, neither house of Congress has rules that expressly authorize staff depositions. On a
number occasions such specific authority has been granted pursuant to Senate and House 15
resolutions. When granted, a committee will normally adopt procedures for taking depositions,
including provisions for notice (with or without a subpoena), transcription of the deposition, the
right to be accompanied by counsel, and the manner in which objections to questions are to be
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides in part that “no person ... shall be compelled in
any criminal case to be a witness against himself....” The privilege against self-incrimination is 16
available to a witness in a congressional investigation. When a witness before a committee
asserts this testimonial constitutional privilege, the committee may, upon a two-thirds vote of the
full committee, obtain a court order that compels and grants immunity against the use of
testimony and information derived from that testimony in a subsequent criminal prosecution. The
witness may still be prosecuted on the basis of other evidence. Grants of immunity have figured
prominently in a number of major congressional investigations, including Watergate (John Dean
and Jeb Magruder) and Iran-Contra (Oliver North and John Poindexter). The decision to grant
immunity involves a number of complex issues (see box below), but is ultimately a political
decision that Congress makes. As observed by Iran-Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence E.
Walsh, “[t]he legislative branch has the power to decide whether it is more important perhaps
even to destroy a prosecution than to hold back testimony they need. They make that decision. It 17
is not a judicial decision or a legal decision but a political decision of the highest importance.”
14 False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-292. Congress acted in response to the Supreme Court’s
decision in Hubbard v. United States, 514 U.S. 695 (1995), holding that 18 U.S.C. § 1001 applied only to false
statements made in executive branch department and agency proceedings.
15 See CRS Report 95-949, Staff Depositions in Congressional Investigations, by Jay R. Shampansky, at notes 16 and
16 Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178 (1957); Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155 (1955).
17 Lawrence E. Walsh, The Independent Counsel and the Separation of Powers, 25 HOUS. L. REV. 1, 9 (1988).
In determining whether to grant immunity to a witness, a committee might wish to consider, on the one hand, its
need for the witness’s testimony in order to perform its legislative, oversight, and informing functions, and on the
other, the possibility that the witness’ immunized congressional testimony could jeopardize a successful criminal
prosecution. If a witness is prosecuted after giving immunized testimony, the burden is on the prosecutor to establish
that the case was not based on the witness’s previous testimony or evidence derived therefrom. Kastigar v. United
States, 406 U.S. 441, 460 (1972).
Appellate court decisions reversing the convictions of key Iran-Contra figures Lt. Colonel Oliver North and Rear
Admiral John Poindexter appear to have made the prosecutorial burden substantially more difficult, if not
insurmountable, in high-profile cases. Despite extraordinary efforts by the independent counsel and his staff to avoid
being exposed to any of North’s or Poindexter’s immunized testimony, and the submission of sealed packets of
evidence to the district court to show that the material was obtained independently of any immunized testimony to
Congress, the appeals court in both cases remanded the cases for a further determination whether the prosecution
had directly or indirectly used immunized testimony. Upon remand in both cases, the independent counsel moved to
dismiss the prosecutions upon his determination that he could not meet the strict standards set by the appeals court
in its decisions. See United States v. North, 910 F. 2d 843 (D.C. Cir.), modified, 920 F. 2d 940 (D.C. Cir. 1990), cert
denied, 500 U.S. 941 (1991); United States v. Poindexter, 951 F. 2d 369 (D.C. Cir. 1991). It is unclear whether a
consequence of the ruling was to engender a reluctance on the part of committees to issue immunity grants. Since
the enactment of the 1970 statute, congressional committees have obtained approximately 345 immunity orders. Of
these, almost half (165) were obtained in connection with the 1978 investigation into the assassinations of President
Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Since 1990, House committees have obtained 31 immunity orders, and Senate
committees have obtained 20.
While the threat or actual issuance of a subpoena normally provides sufficient leverage to ensure
compliance, it is through the contempt power, or its threat, that Congress may act with ultimate
force in response to actions that obstruct the legislative process in order to punish the contemnor
and/or to remove the obstruction. The Supreme Court early recognized the power as an inherent
attribute of Congress’s legislative authority, reasoning that if it did not possess this power, it
“would be exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice or even conspiracy 18
may mediate against it.”
There are three different kinds of contempt proceedings. Both the House and Senate may cite a
witness for contempt under their inherent contempt power or under a statutory criminal contempt
procedure. The Senate also has a third option, enforcement by means of a statutory civil contempt 19
(a) Inherent Contempt
Under the inherent contempt power, the individual is brought before the House or Senate by the
Sergeant-at-Arms, tried at the bar of the body, and can be imprisoned. The purpose of the
imprisonment or other sanction may be either punitive or coercive. Thus, the witness can be
imprisoned for a specified period of time as punishment, or for an indefinite period (but not, at
18 Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 204 (1821).
19 A more comprehensive treatment of the history and legal development of the congressional contempt power is
discussed in CRS Report 86-83, Congress’ Contempt Power, by Jay R. Shampansky (archived; out of print).
least in the case of the House, beyond the adjournment of a session of the Congress) until he
agrees to comply. The inherent contempt power has been recognized by the Supreme Court as 20
inextricably related to Congress’s constitutionally-based power to investigate. Between 1795
and 1934 the House and Senate utilized the inherent contempt power over 85 times, in most
instances to obtain (successfully) testimony and/or documents. The inherent contempt power has
not been exercised by either House in over 70 years. This appears to be because it has been
considered too cumbersome and time-consuming to hold contempt trials at the bar of the offended
chamber. Moreover, some have argued that the procedure is ineffective because punishment can
not extend beyond Congress’s adjournment date.
(b) Statutory Criminal Contempt
Congress recognized the problem raised by its inability to punish a contemnor beyond the
adjournment of a congressional session. In 1857, Congress enacted a statutory criminal contempt
procedure as an alternative to the inherent contempt procedure that, with minor amendments, is
codified today at 2 U.S.C. §§192 and 194. A person who has been subpoenaed to testify or
produce documents before the House or Senate or a committee and who fails to do so, or who
appears but refuses to respond to questions, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up
to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to one year. A contempt citation must be approved by the
subcommittee, the full committee, and the full House or Senate (or by the presiding officer if
Congress is not in session). After a contempt has been certified by the President of the Senate or
the Speaker of the House, it is the “duty” of the U.S. Attorney “to bring the matter before the
grand jury for its action.”
The criminal contempt procedure was rarely used until the twentieth century, but since 1935 it has
been essentially the exclusive vehicle for punishment of contemptuous conduct. Prior to
Watergate, no executive branch official had ever been the target of a criminal contempt
proceeding. Since 1975, however, 10 cabinet-level or senior executive officials have been cited
for contempt for failure to produce subpoenaed documents by either a subcommittee, a full 21
committee, or by a House. In each instance there was substantial or full compliance with the
document demands before the initiation of criminal proceedings. However, following the vote of
contempt of EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford, but before the contempt citation was
forwarded to the United States Attorney for grand jury action, the Department of Justice raised
the question whether Congress could compel the U.S. Attorney to submit the citation for grand
jury consideration. The documents in question were turned over to Congress before the issue was
litigated in court. The question of the duty of the U.S. Attorney under section 192 to enforce
contempt of Congress citations remains unresolved and has left some uncertainty as to the
efficacy of the use of criminal contempt proceedings against executive branch officials.
(c) Civil Contempt
As an alternative to both the inherent contempt power of each house and criminal contempt, a
civil contempt procedure is available in the Senate. Upon application of the Senate, the federal
20 See Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 204 (1821); see also McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135 (1927).
21 The 10 officials are as follows: Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1975); Secretary of Commerce Rogers C. B.
Morton (1975); Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A Califano, Jr. (1978); Secretary of Energy
Charles Duncan (1980); Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards (1981); Secretary of the Interior James Watt (1982);
EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford (1983); Attorney General William French Smith (1983); White House
Counsel John M. Quinn (1996); and Attorney General Janet Reno (1998).
district court issues an order to a person refusing, or threatening to refuse, to comply with a
Senate subpoena. If the individual still refuses to comply, he may be tried by the court in
summary proceedings for contempt of court, with sanctions imposed to coerce compliance. Civil
contempt can be more expeditious than a criminal proceeding, and it also provides an element of
flexibility, allowing the subpoenaed party to test legal defenses in court without necessarily
risking a criminal prosecution. Civil contempt is not authorized for use against executive branch 22
officials refusing to comply with a subpoena except in certain limited circumstances. Since
1979, the Senate has authorized the Office of Senate Legal Counsel to seek civil enforcement of a
document subpoena at least 6 times, the last in 1995. None have been against executive branch
(a) Testimony Under Oath
A witness under oath before a congressional committee who willfully gives false testimony is
subject to prosecution for perjury under section 1621 of title 18 of the United States Code. The
false statement must be “willfully” made before a “competent tribunal” and involve a “material
matter.” For a legislative committee to be competent for perjury purposes a quorum must be 23
present. The problem has been ameliorated in recent years with the adoption of rules
establishing less than a majority of members as a quorum for taking testimony, normally two 2425
members for House committees and one member for Senate committees. The requisite quorum
must be present at the time the alleged perjurious statement is made, not merely at the time the
session convenes. No prosecution for perjury will lie for statements made only in the presence of
committee staff unless the committee has deposition authority and has taken formal action to
(b) Unsworn Statements
Most statements made before Congress, at both the investigatory and hearing phases of oversight,
are unsworn. The practice of swearing in all witnesses at hearings is infrequent. Prosecutions may
be brought to punish congressional witnesses for giving willfully false testimony not under oath.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, false statements by a person in “any investigation or review, conducted
pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress,
consistent with applicable rules of the House and Senate” are punishable by a fine of up to
$250,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
Presidential claims of a right to preserve the confidentiality of information and documents in the
face of legislative demands have figured prominently, though intermittently, in executive-
congressional relations since at least 1792, when President Washington discussed with his cabinet
22 2 U.S.C. § 288 d.
23 Christoffel v. United States, 378 U.S. 89 (1949).
24 House Rule XI(2)(h)(2).
25 Senate Rule XXVI(7)(a)(2) allows its committees to set a quorum requirement at less than the normal one-third for
taking sworn testimony. Almost all Senate committees have set the quorum requirement at one member.
how to respond to a congressional inquiry into the military debacle that befell General St. Clair’s 26
expedition. The vast majority of these interbranch disputes have been resolved through political 27
negotiation and accommodation, thus, few have reached the courts for substantive resolution. In
fact, it was not until the Watergate-related lawsuits in the 1970’s seeking access to President
Nixon’s tapes that the existence of a presidential confidentiality privilege was judicially
established as a necessary derivative of the President’s status in our constitutional scheme of
separated powers. Of the seven court decisions involving interbranch information access 2829
disputes, three have involved Congress and the Executive but only one of these resulted in a 30
decision on the merits. One other case, involving legislation granting custody of President
Nixon’s presidential records to the Administrator of the General Services Administration, also 31
determined several pertinent executive privilege issues.
The Nixon and post-Watergate cases established the broad contours of the presidential
communications privilege. Under those precedents, the privilege, which is constitutionally rooted,
could be invoked by the President when asked to produce documents or other materials or
information that reflect presidential decisionmaking and deliberations that he believes should
remain confidential. If the President does so, the materials become presumptively privileged. The
privilege, however, is qualified, not absolute, and can be overcome by an adequate showing of
need. Finally, while reviewing courts have expressed reluctance to balance executive privilege
claims against a congressional demand for information, they have acknowledged they will do so
if the political branches have tried in good faith but failed to reach an accommodation.
However, until the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s 1997 ruling in In re 3233
Sealed Case (Espy), and its 2004 ruling in Judicial Watch Inc. v. Department of Justice, these
judicial decisions had left important gaps in the law of presidential privilege which increasingly
became focal points, if not the source, of interbranch confrontations. Among the more significant
issues left open included whether the President has to have actually seen or been familiar with the
disputed matter; whether the presidential privilege encompasses documents and information
developed by, or in the possession of, officers and employees in the departments and agencies of
the Executive Branch; whether the privilege encompasses all communications with respect to
which the President may be interested or is it confined to presidential decisionmaking and, if so,
is it limited to any particular type of presidential decisionmaking; and precisely what kind of
26 See Archibald Cox, Executive Privilege, 122 U. OF PA. L. REV. 1383, 1395-1405 (1979). See also generally, Mark J.
Rozell, Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability (2 ed. Revised, 2002, University Press of
Kansas); Mark J. Rozell, Executive Privilege and Modern Presidents: In Nixon’s Shadow, 83 MINN. L. REV. 1069
27 See Neil Devins, Congressional-Executive Information Access Disputes: A Modest Proposal-Do Nothing, 48 ADM.
L. REV. 109 (1996).
28 United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974); Nixon v. Sirica, 487 F.2d 700 (D.C. Cir. 1973); Senate Select
Committee v. Nixon, 498 F.2d 725 (D.C. Cir. 1974); United States v. AT&T, 551 F.2d 384 (D.C. Cir. 1976), appeal
after remand, 567 F.2d 121 (D.C. Cir. 1977); United States v. House of Representatives, 556 F.Supp. 150 (D.D.C.
1983); In re Sealed Case, 121 F.3d 729 (D.C. Cir. 1997); In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 5 F. Supp. 2d 21 (D.D.C.
29 Senate Select Committee, supra; United States v. House of Representatives, supra; and United States v. AT&T,
30 Senate Select Committee, supra.
31 Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. 425 (1977).
32 121 F.3d 729 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
33 365 F.3d 1108 (D.C. Cir. 2004).
demonstration of need must be shown to justify release of materials that qualify for the privilege.
The unanimous panel in In re Sealed Case authoritatively addressed each of these issues in a
manner that may have drastically altered the future legal playing field in resolving such disputes. 34
The ruling in the Judicial Watch case reinforces that likelihood.
In rare instances the executive response to a congressional demand to produce information may
be an assertion of presidential executive privilege, a doctrine which, like Congress’s powers to
investigate and cite for contempt, has constitutional roots. No decision of the Supreme Court has
yet resolved the question whether there are any circumstances in which the executive branch can
refuse to provide information sought by the Congress is on the basis of executive privilege.
Indeed, most such disputes are settled short of litigation through employment of the political 35
process and negotiations, and the few that reach a judicial forum find the courts highly reluctant
to rule on the merits. However, in United States v. Nixon (1974), involving a judicial subpoena 36
issued to the President at the request of the Watergate special prosecutor, the Supreme Court
found a constitutional basis for the doctrine of executive privilege in “the supremacy of each
branch within its own assigned area of constitutional duties” and in the separation of powers.
Although it considered presidential communications to be “presumptively privileged,” the Court
rejected the President’s contention that the privilege was absolute, thereby precluding judicial
review whenever it is asserted. The Court held that the judicial need for the tapes outweighed the
President’s “generalized interest in confidentiality.” The Court was careful to limit the scope of its
decision, noting that “we are not here concerned with the balance between the President’s 37
generalized interest in confidentiality . . . and congressional demands for information.”
In In re Sealed Case (Espy), involving a grand jury subpoena for documents to the White House
Counsel’s Office during an independent counsel’s investigation of allegations of improprieties by
the Secretary of Agriculture, an appeals court elaborated on several important issues left
unresolved by Nixon and other Watergate-related cases: the precise parameters of the presidential
executive privilege; how far down the chain of command the privilege reaches; whether the
President has to have seen or had knowledge of the existence of the documents for which he
claims privilege; and what showing is necessary to overcome a valid claim of privilege. The court
34 Neither case, however, involved congressional access to information.
35 Neal Devins, “Congressional-Executive Information Access Disputes: A Modest Proposal: Do Nothing,”
Administrative Law Review, vol. 48, 109-137: winter 1996; Joel D. Bush, Congressional-Executive Access Disputes:
Legal Standards and Political Settlements, Journal of Law and Politics, vol. 9, 717:1993; Stephen W. Stathis,
“Executive Cooperation: Presidential Recognition of the Investigatory Authority of Congress and the Courts,” Journal
of Law and Politics, vol. 3, 183:1986.
36 The subpoena was for certain tape recordings and documents relating to the President’s conversations with aides and
advisors. The materials were sought for use in a criminal trial.
37 418 U.S. 683, 712 n. 19 (1974). In Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F. 2d
725 (D.C. Cir. 1974), decided prior to U.S. v. Nixon, the appeals court denied the Watergate Committee’s access to five
presidential tapes because the committee had not met its burden of showing that “the subpoenaed evidence is
demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of the Committee’s function.” The court noted that its denial was
based upon the initiation of impeachment proceedings by the House Judiciary Committee, the overlap of the
investigative objectives of both committees, and the fact that the impeachment committee already had the tapes in
question, concluding that “The Select Committee’s immediate oversight need for the subpoenaed tapes is, from a
congressional perspective, merely cumulative.” The unique and confining nature of the case’s factual and historical
context likely makes this an uncertain precedent for limiting a committee’s investigatory power in the face of a
presidential claim of privilege.
held that the presidential communications privilege extended to communications authored by or
solicited and received by presidential advisers that involved information regarding governmental
operations that ultimately call for direct decision making by the President, but he does not have to
actually have seen the documents for which he claims privilege. However, the privilege was held
to be confined to White House staff, and not staff in agencies, and then only to White House staff
that has “operational proximity” to direct presidential decision making. The claim of privilege
may be overcome by a demonstration that each discrete group of subpoenaed materials likely
contains important evidence, and that the evidence was not available with due diligence 38
elsewhere, a showing which the court held the independent counsel had made. In Espy the
appeals court held that the independent counsel had met his burden and ordered the disclosure of
the disputed documents.
The District of Columbia Circuit’s 2004 decision in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Department of 39
Justice appears to lend substantial support to the above-expressed understanding of Espy. The
Judicial Watch dispute involved requests by Judicial Watch, Inc. for documents concerning
pardon applications and pardon grants reviewed by the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon 40
Attorney and the Deputy Attorney General for consideration by President Clinton. Some 4300
documents were withheld on the grounds that they were protected by the presidential
communications and deliberative process privileges. The district court held that because the
materials sought had been produced for the sole purpose of advising the President on a
“quintessential and non-delegable Presidential power”—the exercise of the President’s
constitutional pardon authority—the extension of the presidential communications privilege to
internal Justice Department documents which had not been “solicited and received” by the 41
President or the Office of the President was not warranted. The appeals court reversed,
concluding that “internal agency documents that are not solicited and received by the President or
his Office are instead protected against disclosure, if at all, by the deliberative process 42
Guided by the analysis of the Espy ruling, the panel majority emphasized that the “solicited and
received” limitation “is necessitated by the principles underlying the presidential communications 43
privilege, and a recognition of the dangers of expanding it too far.” Espy teaches, the court
explained, that the privilege may be invoked only when presidential advisers in close proximity to
the President who have significant responsibility for advising him on non-delegable matters
requiring direct presidential decisionmaking have solicited and received such documents or
communications or the President has received them himself. In rejecting the Government’s
argument that the privilege should be applicable to all departmental and agency communications
related to the Deputy Attorney General’s pardon recommendations for the President, the panel
majority held that:
38 121 F. 3d 729 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
39 365 F.3d 1108 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The panel split 2-1, with Judge Rogers writing for the majority and Judge Randolph
40 The President has delegated the formal process of review and recommendation of his pardon authority to the
Attorney General who in turn has delegated it to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General oversees
the work of the Office of the Pardon Attorney.
41 365 F.3d at 1109-12.
42 Id. at 1112, 1114, 1123.
43 Id. at 1114.
such a bright-line rule is inconsistent with the nature and principles of the presidential
communications privilege, as well as the goal of serving the public interest. ...
Communications never received by the President or his Office are unlikely to “be
revelatory of his deliberations ... nor is there any reason to fear that the Deputy Attorney
General’s candor or the quality of the Deputy’s pardon recommendations would be
sacrificed if the presidential communications privilege did not apply to internal
documents. ... Any pardon documents, reports or recommendations that the Deputy
Attorney General submits to the Office of the President, and any direct communications
the Deputy or the Pardon Attorney may have with the White House Counsel or other
immediate Presidential advisers will remain protected. ... It is only those documents and
recommendations of Department staff that are not submitted by the Deputy Attorney
General for the President and are not otherwise received by the Office of the President, 44
that do not fall under the presidential communications privilege.
Indeed, the Judicial Watch panel makes it clear that the Espy rationale would preclude cabinet
department heads from being treated as being part of the President’s immediate personal staff or
as some unit of the Office of the President:
Extension of the presidential communications privilege to the Attorney General’s
delegatee, the Deputy Attorney General, and his staff, on down to the Pardon Attorney
and his staff, with the attendant implication for expansion to other Cabinet officers and
their staffs, would, as the court pointed out in In re Sealed Case, pose a significant risk of
expanding to a large swatch of the executive branch a privilege that is bottomed on a 45
recognition of the unique role of the President.
The Judicial Watch majority took great pains to explain why Espy and the case before it differed
from the Nixon and post-Watergate cases. According to the court, “[u]ntil In re Sealed Case, the
privilege had been tied specifically to direct communications of the President with his immediate 46
White House advisors.” The Espy court, it explained, was for the first time confronted with the
question whether communications that the President’s closest advisors make in the course of
preparing advise for the President and which the President never saw should also be covered by
the presidential privilege. The Espy court’s answer was to “espouse[ ] a ‘limited extension’ of the
privilege’ ‘down the chain of command’ beyond the President to his immediate White House
advisors only,” recognizing “the need to ensure that the President would receive full and frank
advice with regard to his non-delegable appointment and removal powers, but was also wary of
undermining countervailing considerations such as openness in government.... Hence, the [Espy]
court determined that while ‘communications authored or solicited and received’ by immediate
White House advisors in the Office of the President could qualify under the privilege,
communications of staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies that were not 47
solicited and received by such White House advisors could not.”
The situation before the Judicial Watch court tested the Espy principles. While the presidential
decision involved—exercise of the President’s pardon power—was certainly a non-delegable,
core presidential function, the operating officials involved, the Deputy Attorney General and the
44 Id. at 1117.
45 Id. at 1121-22.
46 Id. at 1116.
47 Id. at 1116-117.
Pardon Attorney, were deemed to be too remote from the President and his senior White House
advisors to be protected. The court conceded that functionally those officials were performing a
task directly related to the pardon decision but concluded that an organizational test was more
appropriate for confining the potentially broad sweep that would result from a functional test;
under the latter test, there would be no limit to the coverage of the presidential communications
privilege. In such circumstances, the majority concluded, the lesser protections of the deliberative 48
process privilege would have to suffice. The appeals court ordered the disclosure of 4300
Since the Kennedy Administration, executive policy directives establish that presidential
executive privilege may be asserted only by the President personally. The latest such directive,
issued by President Reagan in November 1982, and still in effect, requires that when agency
heads believe that a congressional information request raises substantial questions of executive
privilege they are to notify and consult with the attorney general and the counsel to the President.
If the matter is deemed to justify invocation of the privilege, it is reported to the President who
makes his decision (See Reagan memo at Appendix B).
However, a memorandum of September 28, 1994, from White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler to all
department and agency general counsels modified the Reagan policy by requiring agency heads
directly to notify the White House Counsel of any congressional request for “any document
created in the White House . . . or in a department or agency, that contains deliberations of, or
advice to or from, the White House” that may raise privilege issues. The White House counsel is
to seek an accommodation and, if that does not succeed, he is to consult the attorney general to
determine whether to recommend invocation of privilege to the President. The President then
determines whether to claim privilege, which is then communicated to the Congress by the White
House Counsel. Thus, it would appear that decision making with respect to claims of presidential
privilege is now fully centralized in the White House, but that the President must still personally
assert the claim. (See Cutler memo at Appendix C.) The current Bush Administration has not
taken a public position on the Reagan memorandum or the Cutler modification, but President
Bush’s sole assertion of executive privilege in December 2001 was issued over his signature.
The current Bush Administration, through presidential signing statements49 and opinions of the
Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), has articulated a legal view of the
breadth and reach of presidential constitutional prerogatives that, if applied to information and 50
documents often sought by congressional committees, would stymie such inquiries. In OLC’s
view, under the precepts of executive privilege and the unitary executive, Congress may not
bypass the procedures the President establishes to authorize disclosure to Congress of classified,
privileged, or even non-privileged information by vesting lower-level officers or employees with
a right to disclose such information without presidential authorization. Thus, OLC has declared
that, “right of disclosure” statutes “unconstitutionally limit the ability of the President and his
48 Id. at 1118-24.
49 See CRS Report RL33667, Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications, by T. J.
Halstead, September 20, 2006.
50 See Letter dated May 21, 2004 to Hon. Alex M. Azar, II, General Counsel, Department of Health and Human
Services from Jack L. Goldsmith III, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice,
available at, http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/crsmemoresponsese.htm.
appointees to supervise and control the work of subordinate officers and employees of the 51
The OLC assertions of these broad notions of presidential prerogatives are unaccompanied by any
authoritative judicial citations and, as indicated in the above discussion, recent appellate court
rulings cast considerable doubt on the broad claims of privilege posited by OLC. Taken together,
Espy and Judicial Watch arguably have effected important qualifications and restraints on the
nature, scope and reach of the presidential communications privilege. As established by those
cases, and until reviewed by the Supreme Court, to appropriately invoke the privilege the
following elements appear to be essential:
1. The protected communication must relate to a “quintessential and non-delegable
presidential power.” Espy and Judicial Watch involved the appointment and removal and
the pardon powers, respectively. Other core, direct presidential decisionmaking powers
include the Commander-in-Chief power, the sole authority to receive ambassadors and
other public ministers, the power to negotiate treaties, and the power to grant pardons. It
would arguably not include decisionmaking with respect to laws that vest policymaking
and implementation authority in the heads of departments and agencies or which allow
presidential delegations of authority.
2. The communication must be authored or “solicited and received” by a close White
House advisor (or the President). The judicial test is that an advisor must be in
“operational proximity” with the President. This effectively means that the scope of the
presidential communications privilege extends only to the boundaries of the White House
and the Executive Office complex.
3. The presidential communications privilege remains a qualified privilege that may be
overcome by a showing of need and unavailability of the information elsewhere by an
appropriate investigating authority. The Espy court found an adequate showing of need by
the Independent Counsel; while in Judicial Watch, the court found the privilege did not
apply and the deliberative process privilege was unavailing.
More common are claims by departments and agencies (and at times by the White House), and by
private persons, that common law testimonial privileges, such as the attorney-client, work-
product, and deliberative-process privileges, afford a shield to congressional investigative
inquiries. Although there has never been a definitive Supreme Court ruling on the question, the
strong constitutional underpinnings of the legislative investigatory power, long-standing
congressional practice, and recent appellate court rulings casting doubt on the viability of
common-law privilege claims by executive officials in the face of grand jury investigations,
support the position that committees may determine, on a case-by case basis, whether to accept a
claim of privilege.
Thus it is well established by congressional practice that acceptance of a claim of attorney-client,
work product, or other common law testimonial privilege before a committee rests in the sound
discretion of that committee. Such common-law privileges cannot be claimed as a matter of right
51 Id. at 3.
by a witness, and a committee can deny them simply because it believes it needs the information 52
sought to be protected in order to accomplish its legislative functions. In actual practice, all
committees that have denied claims of privilege have engaged in a process of weighing
considerations of legislative need, public policy, and the statutory duties of congressional
committees to engage in continuous oversight of the application, administration, and execution of
the laws that fall within its jurisdiction, against any possible injury to the witness. Committees,
among other factors, have considered whether a court would have recognized the claim in the 53
judicial forum. Moreover, the conclusion that recognition of nonconstitutionally based
privileges is a matter of congressional discretion is consistent with both traditional British 54
parliamentary and the Congress’s historical practice.
The legal basis for Congress’s prerogative in this area is based upon its inherent constitutional
prerogative to investigate, which has been long recognized by the Supreme Court as extremely
broad and encompassing, and which is at its peak when the subject is fraud, abuse, or 55
maladministration within a government department. Common-law privileges are, on the other
hand, judicially-created exceptions to the normal principle of full disclosure in the adversary
process, which are to be narrowly construed and have been confined to the judicial forum. These 56
privileges have no constitutional basis. Recent appellate court rulings have cast substantial
doubt whether executive branch officials may claim attorney-client, work product or deliberative 57
process privileges in the face of investigative demands of a grand jury.
52 Glenn A. Beard, “Congress v. The Attorney-Client Privilege: A ‘Full and Frank’ Discussion,” American Criminal
Law Review, vol. 35, 119: 1997; CRS Report 95-464, Investigative Oversight: An Introduction to the Law, Practice and
Procedure of Congressional Inquiry, by Morton Rosenberg.
53 See. e.g., “Contempt of Congress Against Franklin L. Haney,” H.Rept. 105-792, 105th Cong., 2nd sess. 11-16 (1998);
“Proceedings Against John M. Quinn, David Watkins, and Matthew Moore (Pursuant to Title 2, United States Code, thnd
Sections 192 and 194),” H.Rept. 104-598, 104 Cong., 2 sess. 50-54 (1996); “Refusal of William H. Kennedy, III, To
Produce Notes Subpoenaed By The Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and thst
Related Matters,” S.Rept. 104-191, 104 Cong. 1 sess. 9-19 (1995); “Proceedings Against Ralph Bernstein and Joseph thnd
Bernstein,” H.Rept. 99-462, 99 Cong. 2 sess. 13, 14 (1986); Hearings, “International Uranium Control,” Before the thst
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 95 Cong., 1
sess. 60, 123 (1977).
54 See CRS Report, supra footnote 28, at 44-49.
55 McGrain v. Daugherty, 272 U.S. 135, 177 (1926); Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 187 (1957); Eastland v.
United States Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 504 n. 15 (1975).
56 Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. Republic of the Philippines, 951 F. 2d 1414, 1423 (3d Cir. 1991) (“Because the
attorney-client privilege obstructs the truth-finding process, it is narrowly construed.”); Moran v. Burbine 475 U.S.
412, 430 (1986) (Sixth Amendment not a source for attorney-client privilege); Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391,
396-97 (1976) (compelling on attorney to disclose client communications does not violate the client’s Fifth
Amendment privilege against self-incrimination); Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420, 425 (1960) (“Only infrequently
have witnesses [in congressional hearings] been afforded rights normally associated with an adjudicative proceeding”);
United States v. Fort, 443 U.S. 932 (1971) (rejecting contention that the constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses
applied to congressional investigations); In re Sealed Case (Espy), 121 F. 3d 729 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (the deliberative
process privilege is a common law privilege which, when claimed by executive officials, is easily overcome, and
“disappears” altogether upon the reasonable belief by an investigating body that government misconduct has occurred).
57 In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum, 112 F. 3d 910 (8th Cir. 1997), cert. denied sub. nom. Office of the
President v. Office of the Independent Counsel, 521 U.S. 1105 (1997) (claims of First Lady of attorney-client and
work-product privilege with respect notes taken by White House Counsel Office attorneys rejected); In re Bruce R.
Lindsey (Grand Jury Testimony), 158 F. 3d 1263 (D.C. Cir. 1998), cert. denied 525 U.S. 996 (1998) (White House
attorney may not invoke attorney-client privilege in response to grand jury subpoena seeking information on possible
commission of federal crimes); In re Sealed Case (Espy), 121 F. 3d 729 (D. C. Cir. 1997) (deliberative process
privilege is a common law agency privilege which easily overcome by showing of need by an investigating body); In th
re: A Witness Before the Special Grand Jury, 288 F. 3d 289 (7 Cir. 2002) (attorney-client privilege not applicable to
While no court has as yet recognized the inapplicability of common law testimonial privileges in 5859
congressional proceedings, an advisory opinion directly addressing the issue, by Legal Ethics
Committee of the District of Columbia Bar in February 1999 provides substantial support for the
longstanding congressional practice. The occasion for the ruling arose as a result of an
investigation of a Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee into the circumstances
surrounding the planned relocation of the Federal Communications Commission to the Portals 60
office complex. During the course of the inquiry, the Subcommittee sought certain documents
from the Portals developer, Mr. Franklin L. Haney. Mr. Haney’s refusal to comply resulted in
subpoenas for those documents to him and the law firm representing him during the relocation
efforts. Haney and the law firm asserted attorney-client privilege in their continued refusal to
comply. The law firm sought an opinion from the D.C. Bar’s Ethics Committee as to its
obligations in the face of the subpoena and a possible contempt citation, but the Bar Committee
notified the firm that the question was novel and that no advice could be given until the matter 61
was considered in a plenary session of the committee. The firm continued its refusal to comply
until the Subcommittee cited it for contempt, at which time the firm proposed to turn over the 62
documents if the contempt citation was withdrawn. The subcommittee agreed to the proposal.
Subsequently, on February 16, 1999, the D.C. Bar’s Ethics Committee issued an opinion
vindicating the action taken by the firm. The Ethics Committee, interpreting D.C. Rule of 63
Professional conduct 1.6(d)(2)(A), held that an attorney faced with a congressional subpoena
that would reveal client confidences or secrets
has a professional responsibility to seek to quash or limit the subpoena on all available,
legitimate grounds to protect confidential documents and client secrets. If, thereafter, the
Congressional subcommittee overrules these objections, orders production of the
documents and threatens to hold the lawyer in contempt absent compliance with the
communications between state government counsel and state office holder). But see In re Grand Jury Investigation,
399 F.3d 527 (2d Cir. 2005) (upholding a claim of attorney-client privilege with respect to communications between a
former chief legal counsel to the governor of Connecticut who was under grand jury investigation. It is worth noting
that the Second Circuit recognized its apparent conflict with the afore-cited cases, however, the ruling is arguably
distinguishable on its facts. See Kerri R. Blumenauer, Privileged or Not? How the Current Application of the
Government Attorney-Client Privilege Leaves the Government Feeling Unprivileged, 75 FORDHAM L. REV. 75 (2006)).
58 The Supreme Court has recognized that “only infrequently have witnesses . . . [in congressional hearings] been
afforded the procedural rights normally associated with an adjudicative proceeding.” Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420,
425 (1960); See also, United States v. Fort, 443 F. 2d 670 (D.C. Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 403 U.S. 932 (1971)
(rejecting the contention that the constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses applied to a congressional
investigation); In the Matter of Provident Life and Accident Co., E.D. Tenn., S.D., CIV-1-90-219, June 13, 1990 (per
Edgar, J.) (Noting that the court’s earlier ruling on an attorney-client privilege claim was “not of constitutional
dimensions, and is certainly not binding on the Congress of the United States”.).
59 Opinion No. 288, “Compliance With Subpoena from Congressional Committee to Produce Lawyers’ Files
Containing Client Confidences or Secrets,” Legal Ethics Committee, District of Columbia Bar, February 16, 1999.
(D.C Ethics Committee Opinion).
60 See H.Rept. 105-792, supra footnote 29, at 1-6, 7-8, 15-16.
61 See “Meeting on Portals Investigation (Authorization of Subpoenas; Receipt of Subpoenaed Documents and
Consideration of Objections; and Contempt of Congress Proceedings Against Franklin L. Haney),” H. Comm. On thnd
Commerce, 105 Cong., 2 sess. 48-50 (1998).
62 Id. at 101-105.
63 Under Rule 1.6(d)(2)(A) a lawyer may reveal client confidences or secrets only when expressly permitted by the
D.C. rules or when “required by law or court order.”
subpoena, then, in the absence of a judicial order forbidding the production, the lawyer is
permitted, but not required, by the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct to produce the
subpoenaed documents. A directive of a Congressional subcommittee accompanied by a
threat of fines and imprisonment pursuant to federal criminal law satisfies the standard of
“required by law” as that phrase is used in D.C. Rule of Professional conduct
The D.C. Bar opinion urges attorneys to press every appropriate objection to the subpoena until
no further avenues of appeal are available, and even suggests that clients might be advised to 64
retain other counsel to institute a third-party action to enjoin compliance, but allows the attorney
to relent at the earliest point when he is put in legal jeopardy. The opinion represents the first (and
thus far the only) bar in the nation to directly and definitively address the merits of the issue. It is 65
likely to arouse a controversial and sensitive debate, particularly if congressional committees
choose to subpoena client documents from attorneys as a matter of course.
Assertions of deliberative process privilege by agencies have not been uncommon in the past. In
essence it is argued that congressional demands for information as to what occurred during the
policy development process of an agency would unduly interfere, and perhaps “chill,” the frank
and open internal communications necessary to the quality and integrity of the decisional process.
It may also be grounded on the contentions that it protects against premature disclosure of
proposed policies before they are fully considered or actually adopted by the agency, and to
prevent the public from confusing matters merely considered or discussed during the deliberative
process with those on which the decision was based. However, as with claims of attorney-client
privilege and work product immunity discussed previously, congressional practice has been to
treat their acceptance as discretionary with the committee. Moreover, a recent appellate court
decision underlines the understanding that the deliberative process privilege is a common law
privilege of agencies that is easily overcome by a showing of need by an investigatory body, and
other court rulings and congressional practice have recognized the overriding necessity of an
effective legislative oversight process.
The 1997 appeals court ruling in In re sealed Case (Espy),66 discussed previously, is of special
note. The case involved, inter alia, White House claims of executive and deliberate process
privileges for documents subpoenaed by an independent counsel. At the outset of the appeals
court’s unanimous ruling it carefully distinguished between the “presidential communications
privilege” and the “deliberative process privilege.” Both, the court observed, are executive
privileges designed to protect the confidentiality of executive branch decisionmaking. But the
deliberative process privilege applies to executive branch officials generally, is a common law
privilege which requires a lower threshold of need to be overcome, and “disappears altogether 67
when there is any reason to believe government misconduct has occurred.” The court’s
64 A direct suit to enjoin a committee from enforcing a subpoena has been foreclosed by the Supreme Court’s decision
in Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 501 (1975), but that ruling does not appear to foreclose
an action against a “third party,” such as the client’s attorney, to test the validity of the subpoena or the power of a
committee to refuse to recognize the privilege. See. e.g., United States v. AT&T, 567 F. 2d 121 (D.C.Cir. 1977)
(entertaining an action by the Justice Department to enjoin AT&T from complying with a subpoena to provide
telephone records that might compromise national security matters).
65 See. e.g., W. John Moore, “First Save All The Lawyers,” National Law Journal, July 24, 1999 at 2170.
66 121 F. 3d 729 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
67 121 F. 3d at 745, 746; See also id. at 737-738(“[W]here there is reason to believe the documents sought may shed
light on government misconduct, the [deliberative process] privilege is routinely denied on the grounds that shielding
recognition of the deliberative process privilege as a common law privilege which, when claimed
by executive department and agency officials, is easily overcome, and which “disappears” upon
the reasonable belief by an investigating body that government misconduct has occurred, may
severely limit the common law claims of agencies against congressional investigative demands. A
demonstration of need of a jurisdictional committee would appear to be sufficient, and a plausible
showing of fraud, waste, abuse or maladministration would be conclusive.
A congressional committee is a creation of its parent house and only has the power to inquire into
matters within the scope of the authority that has been delegated to it by that body. Thus, the
enabling rule or resolution which gives the committee life is the charter that defines the grant and
limitations of the committee’s power. In construing the scope of a committee’s authorizing
charter, courts will look to the words of the rule or resolution itself, and then, if necessary, to the
usual sources of legislative history such as floor debate, legislative reports, past committee
practice, and interpretation. Jurisdictional authority for “special” investigations may be given to a
standing committee, a joint committee of both houses, or a special subcommittee of a standing
committee, among other vehicles. In view of the specificity with which Senate and House rules
now confer jurisdiction on standing committees, as well as the care with which most authorizing
resolutions for select committees have been drafted in recent years, sufficient models exist to
avoid a successful judicial challenge by a witness that his noncompliance was justified by a
committee’s overstepping its delegated scope of authority.
House Rule XI(2) and Senate Rule XXVI(2) require that committees adopt written rules of
procedure and publish them in the Congressional Record. The failure to publish has resulted in 68
the invalidation of a perjury prosecution. Once properly promulgated, such rules are judicially
cognizable and must be strictly observed. The House and many individual Senate committees
require that all witnesses be given a copy of a committee’s rules.
Both the House and the Senate have adopted rules permitting a reduced quorum for taking
testimony and receiving evidence. House hearings may be conducted if at least two members are
present; most Senate committees permit hearings with only one member in attendance. Although
most committees have adopted the minimum quorum requirement, some have not, while others
require a higher quorum for sworn rather than unsworn testimony. For perjury purposes, the
quorum requirement must be met at the time the allegedly perjured testimony is given, not at the
beginning of the session. Reduced quorum requirement rules do not apply to authorizations for
the issuance of subpoenas. Senate rules require a one-third quorum of a committee or
internal government deliberations in this context does not serve ‘the public interest in honest, effective government’”).
68 United States v. Reinecke, 524 F.2d 435 (D.C. Cir. 1975)(failure to publish committee rule setting one Senator as a
quorum for taking hearing testimony held a sufficient ground to reverse a perjury conviction).
subcommittee while the House requires a quorum of a majority of the members, unless a 69
committee delegates authority for issuance to its chairman.
Senate and House rules limit the authority of their committees to meet in closed session. A House
rule provides that testimony “shall” be held in closed session if a majority of a committee or
subcommittee determines it “may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person.” Such
testimony taken in closed session is normally releasable only by a majority vote of the committee.
Similarly, confidential material received in a closed session requires a majority vote for release.
The chair usually makes an opening statement. In the case of an investigative hearing, it is an
important means of defining the subject matter of the hearing and thereby establishing the
pertinence of questions asked the witnesses. Not all committees swear in their witnesses; a few
committees require that all witnesses be sworn. Most committees leave the swearing of witnesses
to the discretion of the chair. If a committee wishes the potential sanction of perjury to apply, it
should, in accordance with the statute, administer an oath and swear its witnesses, though it
should be noted that false statements not under oath are also subject to criminal sanctions.
A witness does not have a right to make a statement before being questioned but that opportunity
is usually accorded. Committee rules may prescribe the length of such statements and also require
written statements be submitted in advance of the hearing. Questioning of witnesses may be
structured so that members alternate for specified lengths of time. Questioning may also be
conducted by staff. Witnesses may be allowed to review a transcript of their testimony and to
make nonsubstantive corrections.
The right of a witness to be accompanied by counsel is recognized by House rule and the rules of
Senate committees. The House rule limits the role of counsel as solely “for the purpose of
advising them concerning their constitutional rights.” Some committees have adopted rules 70
specifically prohibiting counsel from “coaching” witnesses during their testimony. A committee
has complete authority to control the conduct of counsel. Indeed, House Rule XI(2)(k)(4)
provides that “[t]he chairman may punish breaches of order and decorum, and of professional
ethics on the part of counsel, by censure or exclusion from the hearings; and the Committee may 71
cite the offender for contempt.” Some Senate committees have adopted similar rules. There is
no right of cross-examination of adverse witnesses during an investigative hearing. Witnesses are
entitled to a range of constitutional protections (see box).
69 Senate Rule XXVI(7)(a)(1); House Rule XI(2)(m)(3).
70 See, e.g., Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations Rule 8.
71 See, e.g., Senate Aging Committee Rule V. 8; Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Rule 7.
Constitutional Rights of Witnesses
It is well established that the protections of the Bill of Rights extend to witnesses at legislative inquiry and thus may
pose significant limitations on congressional investigations. The Fifth Amendment provides that “no person . . . shall
be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The privilege protects a witness against being
compelled to testify subject to a grant of immunity (see pages 35 and 36) but not against a subpoena for existing
documentary evidence. However, where compliance with a subpoena duces tecum would constitute an implicit
testimonial authentication of the documents produced, the privilege may apply. There is no particular formulation of
words necessary to invoke the privilege. All that is required is that the witness’s objection be stated in a manner that
the committee may reasonably expected to understand as an attempt to invoke the privilege.
Although the First Amendment, by its terms, is expressly applicable only to legislation that abridges freedom of speech,
press, or assembly, the Court has held that the amendment also restricts Congress in conducting investigations. In the
leading case involving the application of First Amendment rights in a congressional investigation, Barenblatt v. United
States, the Court held that “where first amendment rights are asserted to bar government interrogation resolution of
the issue always involves a balancing by the courts of the competing private and public interests at stake in the
particular circumstances shown.” 360 U.S. 109, 162 (1959). Thus, unlike the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-
incrimination, the First Amendment does not give a witness an absolute right to refuse to respond to congressional
demands for information.
Dicta in opinions of the Supreme Court indicate that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable
searches and seizures is applicable to congressional committees. It appears that there must be probable cause for the
issuance of a congressional subpoena. The Fourth Amendment protects a congressional witness against a subpoena
that is unreasonably broad or burdensome.
Oversight at times occurs through specialized, temporary investigations of a specific event or
development. These are often dramatic, high profile endeavors, focusing on scandals, alleged
abuses of authority, suspected illegal conduct, or other unethical behavior. The stakes are high,
possibly even leading to the end of individual careers of high ranking executive officials. Indeed,
congressional investigations can induce resignations, firings, and impeachment proceedings and
question major policy actions of the executive, as with these notable occasions: the Senate
Watergate Committee investigation into the Nixon Administration in the early 1970s; the Church
and Pike select committees’ inquiries in the mid-1970s into intelligence agency abuses; the 1981
select committee inquiry into the ABSCAM scandal; the 1987 Iran-contra investigation during the
Reagan Administration; the multiple investigations of scandals and alleged misconduct during the
Clinton Administration; and the Hurricane Katrina probe in 2005 during the Bush Administration.
As a consequence, interest—in Congress, the executive, and the public—is frequently intense and
Prominent Select Investigative Committees
Senate Watergate Committee (1973-74), S.Res. 60, 93rd Congress, 1st session.
“To establish a select committee of the Senate to conduct an investigation and study of the
extent, if any, to which illegal, improper, or unethical activities were engaged in by any persons,
acting individually or in combination with others, in the presidential election of 1972, or any
campaign, canvass, or other activity related to it.”
House Select Committee on the Iran-Contra Affair (1987), H.Res. 12, 100th Congress, 1st session.
“The select committee is authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation and
study, and to make such findings and recommendations to the House as the select committee
deems appropriate,” regarding the sale or transfer of arms, technology, or intelligence to Iran or
Iraq; the diversion of funds realized in connection with such sales and otherwise, to the anti-
government forces in Nicaragua; the violation of any law, agreement, promise, or understanding
regarding the reporting to and informing of Congress; operational activities and the conduct of
foreign and national security policy by the staff of the National Security Council; authorization and
supervision or lack thereof of such matters by the President and other White House personnel;
the role of individuals and entities outside the government; other inquiries regarding such matters,
by the Attorney General, White House, intelligence community, and Departments of Defense,
Justice, and State; and the impact of such matters on public and international confidence in the
United States Government.
1. These investigative hearings may be televised in the contemporary era, and often result in
extensive news media coverage.
2. Such investigations may be undertaken by different organizational arrangements. These
include temporary select committees, standing committees and their subcommittees,
specially created subcommittees, or specially commissioned task forces within an existing
one year, or at the longest until the end of a Congress, at which point the panel would have
to be reapproved if the inquiry were to continue).
4. The investigative panel often has to employ additional and special staff—including
investigators, attorneys, auditors, and researchers—because of the added work load and
need for specialized expertise in conducting such investigations and in the subject matter.
Such staff can be hired under contract from the private sector, transferred from existing
congressional offices or committees, transferred from the congressional support agencies,
or loaned by executive agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The staff
would require appropriate security clearances if the inquiry looked into matters of national
5. Such special panels have often been vested with investigative authorities not ordinarily
available to standing committees. Staff deposition authority is the most commonly given,
but given the particular circumstances, special panels have been vested with the authority
to obtain tax information, to seek international assistance in information gathering efforts
abroad, and to participate in judicial proceedings (see Table 1).
Table 1. Special Investigative Authorities of Selected Investigating Committees
International Tax Authority to Participate In
Deposition Authority Information Information Judicial
Gathering Authority Access Authority Proceedings
Sen. Select Member/ No No Yes
Committee on aStaff
Nixon Member/ Yes No No
Billy Carter cStaff No Yes No
House Member/ Yes No No
Church Member/ Yes No No
Koreagatef Member/ Letters No Yes, by
Staff Rogatory special counsel
ABSCAM gMember Letters No Yes, by
(House) Rogatory special counsel
ABSCAM hMember/ No No No
Iran-Contra iMember/ Letters Yes Yes
House and jStaff Rogatory,
Judge Hastings Staff No No No
Judge Nixon Staff No No No
October mMember/ Letters Rogatory, No Yes
Surprise Staff Commissions,
Senate Staff No No No
Senate Staff Letters Yes No
Whitewater (II)o Rogatory,
White House pMember/ No No No
Travel Office Staff
House Member/ Letters No No
Campaign qStaff Rogatory,
Senate Staff No No No
International Tax Authority to Participate In
Deposition Authority Information Information Judicial
Gathering Authority Access Authority Proceedings
Select Member/ Letters Yes Yes, by
Committee on Staff Rogatory, House General
National Depositions Counsel
Teamsters Member/ No No No
Note: More comprehensive compilations of authorities and rules of Senate and House special investigatory
committees may be found in Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, “Authority and Rules of Senate
Special Investigatory Committees and Other Senate Entities, 1973-97,” S.Doc. 105-16, 105th Cong., 1st sess.
(1998), and CRS Report 95-949, Staff Depositions in Congressional Investigations, by Jay R. Shampansky., at notes 16
a. S.Res. 60 and S.Res. 194, 93rd Cong., (1973).
b. H.Res. 803, 93rd Cong., (1974).
c. 126 Cong. Rec. 19544-46 (1980) (unanimous consent agreement); S.Res. 495, 96th Cong., (1980) (staff th
deposition authority); S.Res. 496, 96 Cong., (1980) (tax access authority).
d. H.Res. 222, 95th Cong., (1974).
e. S.Res. 21, 94th Cong., (1974).
f. H.Res. 252 and H.Res. 752, 95th Cong., (1977).
g. H.Res. 67, 97th Cong., (1981).
h. S.Res. 350, 97th Cong., (1982).
i. H.Res. 12, 10th Cong., (1987).
j. S.Res. 23, 100th Cong., (1987).
k. H.Res. 320, 100th Cong., (1987).
l. H.Res. 562, 100th Cong., (1988).
m. H.Res. 258, 102nd Cong., (1991).
n. S.Res. 229, 103rd Cong., (1994).
o. S.Res. 120, 104th Cong., (1995).
p. H.Res. 369, 104th Cong., (1996).
q. H.Res. 167, 105th Cong., (1997).
r. S.Res. 54, 105th Cong., (1997)).
s. H.Res. 463, 105th Cong., (1998).
t. H.Res. 507, 105th Cong., (1998).
The role of members of the minority in the investigatory oversight process is governed by the
rules of each house and its committees. While minority members are specifically accorded some
rights (e.g., in the House of Representatives, whenever a hearing is conducted on any measure or
matter, the minority may, upon the written request of a majority of the minority members to the
chairman before the completion of the hearing, call witnesses selected by the minority, and 72
presumably request documents), no House or committee rules authorize either ranking minority
members or individual members on their own to institute official committee investigations, hold
hearings, or issue subpoenas. Individual members may seek the voluntary cooperation of agency
officials or private persons. But no judicial precedent has directly recognized a right in an 73
individual member, other than the chair of a committee, to exercise the authority of a committee
in the context of oversight without the permission of a majority of the committee or its chair.
Moreover, a 1994 federal district court ruling dismissed the attempt of the then-ranking minority
member of the House Banking [now titled Financial Services] Committee to compel disclosure of
documents from two agencies under the Freedom of Information Act and the Administrative
Procedure Act. The court held that the case was one “in which a congressional plaintiff’s dispute
is primarily with his or her fellow legislators” and that the ranking minority member’s “complaint
derives solely from his failure to persuade his colleagues to authorize his request for the
documents in question, and that Plaintiff thus has a clear ‘collegial remedy’ capable of affording 74
him substantial relief.”
That court also suggested that the possibility that a “collegial remedy” for the minority exists
already, pointing to 5 U.S.C. § 2954, under which small groups of members of the House
Government Reform and Senate Governmental Affairs Committees can request information from 75
executive agencies without the need of formal committee action. However, the precise scope
and efficacy of this provision is uncertain and a recent federal district court opinion cases doubt
on its enforceability by a court.
5 U.S.C. § 2954 is derived from section 2 of the Act of May 29, 1928,76 which originally referred
not to the current committees generally overseeing government agency operations but their
predecessors, the House and Senate Committees on Expenditures in the Executive Departments.
The principal purpose of the 1928 act, embodied in its first section, was to repeal legislation that
required the submission to the Congress of some 128 reports, many of which had become
obsolete in part, and which, in any event, were deemed at the time to have no value, serve no 77
useful purpose, and were not printed by the House of Representatives.
Section 2 of the 1928 Act contains the language that has been codified in 5 U.S.C. § 2954. The
legislative history, is somewhat mixed on the purpose of that language. The Senate report
indicated a limited purpose: to make “it possible to require any report discontinued by the
72 House Rule XI 2(j)(1); see also House Banking Committee Rule IV. 4.
73 Ashland Oil Co., Inc., v. FTC, 548 F. 2d 977, 979-80 (D.C. Cir. 1976), affirming 409 F. Supp. 297 (D.D. C. 1976);
see also Exxon v. Federal Trade Commission, 589 F. 2d 582, 592-93 (D.C. Cir. 1978)(acknowledging that the
“principle is important that disclosure of information can only be compelled by members . . .”); and In re Beef Industry th
Antitrust Litigation, 589 F. 2d 786, 791 (5 Cir. 1979)(refusing to permit two Congressmen from intervening in private
litigation because they “failed to obtain a House Resolution or any similar authority before they sought to intervene.”)
74 Leach v. Resolution Trust Corporation, 860 F. Supp. 868, 874-76 (D.D.C. 1994).
75 Id. at 876 note 7. 5 U.S.C. § 2954 provides: “An Executive agency, on request of the Committee on Government
[Reform] of the House of Representatives, or of any seven members thereof, or on request of the Committee on
Government Operations of the Senate, or any five members thereof, shall submit any information requested of it
relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee.”
76 45 Stat. 996.
77 H.R. 1757, 70th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 2-3 (1928). A study of the Bureau of Efficiency had recommended their
elimination. H.R. 1757, at p. 2; S.Rept. 1320, 70th Cong., 1st sess., p. 1 (1928).
language of this bill to be resubmitted to either House upon its necessity becoming evident to the 78
membership of either body.” The House report agreed on that point, but added: “If any
information is desired by any Member or Committee upon a particular subject that information
can be better secured by a request made by an individual Member or Committee, so framed as to 79
bring out the special information desired.”
It is uncertain, then, on how closely 5 U.S.C. § 2954 is tied to the 128 reports abolished by 80
section 1 of the 1928 legislation. Moreover, the provision lacks an explicit enforcement
component. Agency refusals to comply would not be subject to existing contempt processes, and
the outcome of a civil suit to compel production on the basis of the provision is problematic
despite the Leach court’s suggestion. Further, the provision applies only to the named
committees; thus members of all other committees would still face the Leach problem. Finally,
even members of the named committees are still likely to have to persuade a court that their claim
is more than an intramural dispute, that a court has jurisdiction to hear the suit, and that
committee members have standing to sue within the narrow parameters set by the Supreme Court 81
in Raines v. Byrd.
The first attempt to secure court enforcement of a document demand under section 2954 was 82
brought in 2001 in a federal district court. That case involved a request of 16 minority party
members of the House Government Reform Committee for information from the Secretary of
Commerce for data concerning the 2000 census. The congressional plaintiffs sought declaratory
and injunctive relief, arguing that the plain language of section 2954 unambiguously directs
agency compliance with information requests and that while resort to the legislative history of the
provision is not necessary in such clear language situations, that history is supportive. In addition,
the plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to judicial relief because of the agency’s direct and
particularized rejection of an entitlement specifically granted to them by law. The government
argued that because the case had arisen out of a political dispute between Congress and the
Executive concerning access to information, the court should refrain from hearing the case in
accordance with the doctrine of equitable discretion. Alternatively, the government argued that
section 2954 should be construed, in light of its legislative history, and to avoid doubts about its
constitutionally, as preserving Congress’ access to the information formerly contained in the
reports abolished by section 1 of the 1928 Act, but not as guaranteeing an unqualified right of
access to information possessed by the executive branch. The district court rejected these
arguments and ordered release of the requested census data. The government thereafter moved for
reconsideration, raising for the first time the questions whether plaintiffs, as individual legislators,
lacked standing under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Raines v. Byrd to sue for institutional
injuries and whether the plaintiffs had a right of action under section 2954, the Administrative
Procedure Act, or the Mandamus statute to bring suit against the Executive Branch for access to
information. The court declined to consider these arguments on the ground that the government 83
could have presented them in support of its original motion to dismiss but did not do so.
78 S.Rept. 1320, supra, at 4.
79 H.R. 1757, supra, at 6; see also 69 Cong. Rec. 9413-17, 10613-16 (1928) (House and Senate floor debates).
80 In codifying Title 5 in 1966, Congress made it clear that it was effecting no substantive changes in existing laws:
“The legislative purpose in enacting sections 1-6 of this act is to restate, without substantive change, the laws replaced
by those sections on the effective date of this Act.” P.L. 89-544, Sec. 7(a).
81 521 U.S. 811 (1997).
82 Waxman, et al. v. Evans, Civ. Action No. 01-14530-LGB (AJWx) (C.D. Calif, May 21, 2001).
83 Waxman v. Evans, Case No. CV 01-14530-LGB (AJWx) at 3.
On appeal to the Ninth Circuit, the case was argued together with a separate Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) suit for the same census data brought by two Washington State
legislators. After oral argument, the appeals court withdrew the submission of Waxman v. Evans,
deferring the case pending its decision in the FOIA suit. The appeals court ruled in favor of the 84
plaintiffs in the FOIA case on October 8, 2002, and on December 6, 2002, declared that the
action in Waxman was mooted by its FOIA decision and issued an order reversing and vacating
the district court’s decision, and remanding the case to the district court with instructions to 85
dismiss. On motion of the plaintiffs, the court of appeals modified this order on January 9, 2003,
striking its reversal of the district court’s ruling, but leaving in effect its order to vacate and
A second attempt to secure judicial enforcement of a section 2954 document demand in the same 86
district court was recently rejected. Waxman v. Thompson, is a suit by 19 Members of the House
Government Reform Committee to compel release by the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) of cost estimates prepared by its Office of Actuary during congressional
consideration of Medicare reform legislation in 2003. In addition to asserting a right of access
under section 2954, the congressional plaintiffs allege a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7211, which
provides that “[t]he right of employees . . . to furnish information to either House of Congress, or
to a committee or member thereof, may not be interfered with or denied.” The government
opposed the claims, raising the issues of standing under Raines v. Byrd, jurisdiction of the court to
enforce either statute, and the doctrine of equitable discretion.
On July 24, 2006, the district court, applying the guiding principles established by the Supreme
Court in the 1997 decision in Raines v. Byrd, ruled that the congressional plaintiffs did not have 87
standing to sue. Raines involved a challenge to the constitutionality of the Line-Item Veto Act of
1996 by six Members of Congress who had voted against it, alleging that it unconstitutionally
diminished the Member’s voting power by authorizing the President to “cancel” certain spending
and tax measures after he signed them into law, without complying with the requirements of
bicameral passage and presentment to the President. In Raines, the Supreme Court held that the
Member plaintiffs lacked standing because their complaint did not establish that they had suffered
an injury that was personal, particularized, and concrete. The Court distinguished between a
personal injury to a private right and an institutional or official one, and was of the view that a
congressional plaintiff may have standing in a suit against the executive if it is alleged that the
plaintiff has suffered either a personal injury (e.g., loss of Member’s seat) on an institutional one
that is not “abstract or widely dispersed,” but amounts to Member vote nullification. The Court
concluded that the plaintiffs in Raines had alleged an institutional injury that damaged all
Members (a reduction of legislative and political power), rather than a personal injury to a private 88
right, which would be more particularized and concrete.
Bound by the Supreme Court’s precedent, the district court concluded that when the Secretary
refused to produce the documents requested pursuant to section 2954, plaintiffs did not suffer a
personal injury as that term is defined by Raines. Rather, Congress, on whose behalf the plaintiffs
84 Carter v. U.S. Department of Commerce, 307 F. 3d 1084 (9th Cir. 2002).
85 Waxman v. Evans, No. 02-55825 (9th Cir. Dec. 6, 2002).
86 No. CV-04-3467 MMM (Manx) (C.D. Calif., May 17, 2004).
87 521 U.S. 811 (1997).
88 See Congressional Standing to Sue, CRS Report RL30280, by Jay R. Shampansky, June 19, 2001 (containing a more
detailed discussion of Raines v. Byrd).
acted, suffered an institutional injury; namely, that its ability to assess the merits of the bill in
question was impeded or impaired. Such an injury is precisely of the type that, under Raines,
deprives individual legislators of standing to sue. Quoting Raines, the court noted that the
plaintiffs were “not ... singled out for specifically unfavorable treatment as opposed to other
Members of their respective bodies,” and cannot “claim that they have been deprived of
something to which they are reasonably entitled,” since the alleged injury “runs (in a sense) with
the Member’s seat, a seat which the Member holds (it might be quite arguably be said) as trustees
of his constituents, not as prerogatives of personal power.” A violation of section 2954, the court
concluded, therefore raises no personal or particularized injury to the plaintiffs, but at most a type
of institutional injury which necessarily damages all Members of Congress and both Houses of
Congress equally. The plaintiffs’ right to request and receive information from the executive
branch pursuant to section 2954 would cease once they were no longer in Congress or no longer a
member of the House Committee on Government Reform. The right that is asserted, the court
observed, runs with their congressional and committee seats, and is not personal to them. The
court also noted that no jurisdictional committee has specifically requested that the documents be
produced either by an official request or by a subpoena, nor does the legislative history of the
provision imply an intent to delegate authority to the requisite number of Members to seek to
enforce its provisions judicially.
The rules of the Senate provide substantially more effective means for individual minority-party
members to engage in “self-help” to support oversight objectives than afforded their House
counterparts. Senate rules emphasize the rights and prerogatives of individual Senators and, 89
therefore, minority groups of Senators. The most important of these rules are those that
effectively allow unlimited debate on a bill or amendment unless an extraordinary majority votes 90
to invoke cloture. Senators can use their right to filibuster, or simply the threat of filibuster, to
delay or prevent the Senate from engaging in legislative business. The Senate’s rules also are a
source of other minority rights that can directly or indirectly aid the minority in gaining
investigatory rights. For example, the right of extended debate applies in committee as well as on
the floor, with one crucial difference: the Senate’s cloture rule may not be invoked in committee.
Each Senate committee decides for itself how it will control debate, and therefore a filibuster
opportunity in a committee may be even greater than on the floor. Also, Senate Rule XXVI
prohibits the reporting of any measure or matter from a committee unless a majority of the
committee is present, another point of possible tactical leverage. Even beyond the potent power to
delay, Senators can promote their goals by taking advantage of other parliamentary rights and
opportunities that are provided by the Senate’s formal procedures and customary practices, such
as are afforded by the processes dealing with floor recognition, committee referrals, and the 91
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89 See CRS Report RL30850, Minority Rights and Senate Procedures, by Judy Schneider.
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91 See Bach, supra footnote 63 at pp. 8-11.
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Many oversight techniques are self-explanatory. There are several techniques, however, for which
explanation or elaboration may prove helpful for a better understanding of their utility.
A basic step in oversight preparation is to determine the laws, programs, activities, functions,
advisory committees, agencies, and departments within a committee’s jurisdiction. This is
essential if a committee is to know the full range of its oversight responsibilities. To accomplish
this general goal, House and Senate committees might:
1. Prepare a document, as needed, which outlines for each subcommittee of a standing
committee the agencies, laws, programs activities, functions, advisory committees, and
required agency reports that fall within its jurisdictional purview.
2. Publish, as needed, a compilation of the all the basic statutes in force within the jurisdiction
of each subcommittee or for the committee itself if it has no subcommittees.
3. Request the assistance of the various legislative support agencies (the Congressional
Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, or the Government Accountability
Office) in identifying the full range of federal programs and activities under a committee’s
1. Oversight hearings (or even “pre-hearings”) may be held for the purposes of briefing
Members and staff on the organization, operations, and programs of an agency, and
determining how an agency intends to implement any new legislation. The hearings can
also be used as a way to obtain information on the administration, effectiveness, and
economy of agency operations and programs.
2. Agency officials can be noticeably influenced by the knowledge and expectation that they
will be called before a congressional committee regularly to account for the activities of
a. helping committee members keep up-to-date on important administrative developments;
b. serving as a forum for exchanging and communicating views on pertinent problems and
other relevant matters;
c. providing background information which could assist members in making sound
legislative and fiscal judgments;
d. identifying program areas within each committee’s jurisdiction that may be vulnerable to
waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement; and
e. determining whether new laws are needed or whether changes in the administration of
existing laws will be sufficient to resolve problems.
4. The ability of committee members during oversight hearings to focus on meaningful issues
and to ask penetrating questions will be enhanced if staff have accumulated, organized, and
evaluated relevant data, information, and analyses about administrative performance.
a. Ideally, each standing committee should regularly monitor the application of laws and
implementation of programs within its jurisdiction. A prime objective of the “continuous
watchfulness” mandate (Section 136) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 is to
encourage committees to take an active and ongoing role in administrative review and
not wait for public revelations of agency and program inadequacies before conducting
oversight. As Section 136 states in part: “each standing committee of the Senate and
House of Representatives shall exercise continuous watchfulness of the execution by the
administrative agencies concerned of any laws, the subject matter of which is within the
jurisdiction of such committee.”
b. Committee personnel could be assigned to maintain active liaison with appropriate
agencies and to record their pertinent findings routinely.
c. Information compiled in this fashion will be useful not only for regular oversight
hearings, but also for oversight hearings called unexpectedly with little opportunity to
conduct an extensive background study.
5. It is important that specific letters be directed by the committee to the agency witnesses so
that they will be on notice about what they will have to answer. In this way witnesses will
be responsive in providing worthwhile testimony at hearings; testify “to the point” and
avoid rambling and/or evasive statements; and restrict their use of this kind of answer to
questions: “I didn’t know you wanted that information. . .”
An important check against bureaucratic indifference or inefficiency is “casework,” as noted in
Section I. Typically, Members of Congress hear from individual constituents and communities
about problems they are having with various federal agencies and departments. As a House
member once said:
Last year, one of my constituents, a 63-year old man who requires kidney dialysis,
discovered that he would no longer be receiving Medicare because the Social Security
Administration thought he was dead. Like many residents who have problems dealing
with the federal bureaucracy, this man contacted my district office and asked for help.
Without difficulty, he convinced my staff that he was indeed alive, and we in turn 92
convinced the Social Security Administration to resume sending him benefits.
Casework is important not only in resolving problems that constituents are having with
bureaucrats but also in identifying limitations in the law. As a scholar of constituency service
explained: “Casework allows ad hoc correction of bureaucratic error, impropriety, and laxity, and
can lead a senator or representative to consider changes in laws because of particularly flagrant or 93
persistent problems that casework staff discovered.”
1. Periodic auditing of executive departments is among the strongest techniques of legislative
oversight. Properly utilized, the audit enables Congress to hold executive officers to a strict
accounting for their use of public funds and the conduct of their administration.
transactions, and financial statements. Many federal, state, and some foreign audit agencies
are moving in the direction pioneered by Government Accountability Office (GAO), the
chief audit agency of Congress of including an evaluation of:
a. whether claimed achievements are supported by adequate and reliable evidence and data
and are in compliance with legislatively established objectives; and
92 Lee H. Hamilton, “Constituent Service and Representation,” The Public Manager, summer 1992, p. 12.
93 John R. Johannes, “Constituency Service,” in Donald Bacon, et. al., eds., The Encyclopedia of the United States
Congress (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), p. 544.
b. whether resources are being used efficiently, effectively, and economically.
3. In reviewing the agencies’ own evaluations, or in undertaking an initial evaluation, auditors
are advised by GAO to ask questions such as the following:
a. How successful is the program in accomplishing the intended results? Could program
objectives be achieved at less cost?
b. Has agency management clearly defined and promulgated the objectives and goals of
the program or activity?
c. Have performance standards been developed?
d. Are program objectives sufficiently clear to permit agency management to accomplish
effectively the desired program results? Are the objectives of the component parts of the
program consistent with overall program objectives?
e. Are program costs reasonably commensurate with the benefits achieved?
f. Have alternative programs or approaches been examined, or should they be examined to
determine whether objectives can be achieved more economically?
g. Were all studies, such as cost-benefit studies, appropriate for analyzing costs and
benefits of alternative approaches?
h. Is the program producing benefits or detriments that were not contemplated by Congress
when it authorized the program?
i. Is the information furnished to Congress by the agency adequate and sufficiently
accurate to permit Congress to monitor program achievements effectively?
j. Does top management have the essential and reliable information necessary for
exercising supervision and control and for ascertaining directions or trends?
k. Does management have internal review or audit facilities adequate for monitoring
program operations, identifying program and management problems and weaknesses,
and insuring fiscal integrity?
4. In addition to GAO and other governmental audits, Congress may have access to the
internal audit reports of agency audit teams.
a. Internal audit reports are designed to meet the needs of executive officials.
b. This information is useful in conducting oversight; executive agencies are sometimes
reluctant to provide internal audit reports to Congress.
c. A large number of governmental and private organizations conduct audits of
expenditures. Every major federal agency, for example, has its own statutory Inspector
General and each of the 50 states plus hundreds of local governments have their own
audit offices. Many government agencies also contract with public accounting firms to
perform financial audits. For assistance in finding audit reports or in learning how to
commission audit reports, congressional staff might consult with officials at the GAO,
which is the auditing arm of the Congress.
1. The Federal Register is published daily, Monday through Friday, except official holidays
by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. It
provides a uniform system for making available to the public regulations and legal notices
issued by Federal agencies. These include presidential proclamations and executive orders,
federal agency documents having general applicability and legal effect, documents
required to be published by act of Congress, and other Federal agency documents of public
interest. Final regulations are codified by subject in the Code of Federal Regulations.
2. Documents are on file for public inspection in the Office of the Federal Register the day
before they are published, unless the issuing agency requests earlier filing. The list of
documents on file for public inspection can be accessed via http://www.nara.gov/fedreg.
3. Regular scrutiny of the Federal Register by committees and staff may help them to identify
proposed rules and regulations in their subject areas that merit congressional review as to
need and likely effect.
4. The Federal Register is now available and searchable online (see
http://www.acess.gpo.gov/nara). The Regulatory Information Service Center of the General
Services Administration annually issues two publications—the Unified Agenda of Federal
Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions in April and The Regulatory Plan and the Unified
Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions in October—that provide a
wealth of information about proposed and completed regulatory actions of federal
agencies. Both documents are available online at http://reginfo.gov. Further information
about these two publications can be obtained from the center. The center’s telephone
number is (202) 482-7350 and its e-mail address is RIS@gsa.gov.
1. Staff Investigations. The staffs of committees and individual Members play a vital role in
the legislative process.
a. Committee staffs, through field investigations or on-site visits for example, can help a
committee develop its own independent evaluation of the effectiveness of laws.
2. Support Agencies. The legislative support agencies, directly or indirectly, can assist
committees and Members in conducting investigations and reviewing agency performance.
(See “Section V” for a discussion of CRS, GAO, and CBO capabilities.)
a. The Government Accountability Office is the agency most involved in investigations,
audits, and program evaluations. It has a large, professional investigative staff and
produces numerous reports useful in oversight.
3. Outside Contractors. The 1974 Budget Act, as amended, and the Legislative
Reorganization Act of 1970 authorize House and Senate committees to enlist the services
of individual consultants or organizations to assist them in their work.
a. A committee might contract with an independent research organization or employ
professional investigators for short-term studies.
b. Committees may also utilize, subject to appropriate approvals, federal and support
agency employees to aid them in their oversight activities.
c. Committees might also establish a voluntary advisory panel to assist them in their work.
1. Public exposure of a problem is an effective oversight technique, and will often help bring
about a solution to that problem. Public officials often seem much more responsive to
correcting deficiencies after the issue has been described in widely circulated news stories.
2. Effective communication with the media is based on knowledge and understanding of each
of the media forms and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
(1) Timeliness, brevity, and accuracy are the main criteria for dealing with the wire service.
(2) Personal contact with wire service reporters gets the best results.
(1) Obtain information on the operational procedures and deadlines of daily newspapers,
and how they are affected by time.
(2) Since regular news for Monday is usually low, it may be useful to issue statements and
releases for “Monday a.m.” use.
(3) Saturday usually has the lowest circulation and Sunday has the widest.
(4) Stories for weekend publication should be given to reporters during the middle of the
week or earlier.
(1) Magazines and other periodicals are generally wider ranging and focus on why
something happens, not what happened.
(2) Weeklies do not ordinarily respond to Member press conferences and releases in the
same manner as the other media; personal meetings and telephone conversations are
usually more effective.
(3) Deadlines Vary
(a) Obtain information on operational procedures.
(b) Weekends are generally production periods for most magazines.
Many of these topically oriented magazines and newsletters are produced by publishing firms
which utilize the services of the periodical press galleries in the Capitol.
(1) House and Senate rules identify procedures for radio and television broadcasting of
committee hearings. (See House Rule XI and Senate Rule XXVI).
(2) News of a committee’s oversight activities may appear in diverse forms on television.
For example, it could appear on the networks as a brief report on the morning or
evening news, air on a cable news channel, or arise in the course of live House or
Senate floor debate telecast over C-SPAN (the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network).
Washington-based news organizations may also provide daily television coverage of
Congress to independent television stations. Public television and cable news
organizations occasionally broadcast live coverage of committee oversight hearings.
(3) To encourage television coverage of a committee’s oversight activities, the following
checklist might be helpful to staff.
(a) Alert correspondents and Washington bureau chiefs of upcoming hearings several
days in advance via press releases; follow up with personal or telephone notification
of certain “must-contact” correspondents.
(b) Notify the Associated Press, Reuters, and other news services of a scheduled
hearing or meeting at least a day in advance. Allow enough lead time to permit
inclusion of the committee activity in the wire services’ calendar of daily events for
the next day.
(c) If widespread media interest is anticipated, reserve at least a week in advance a
hearing room large enough to accommodate television cameras.
(d) Alert interested correspondents or assignment editors when House or Senate floor
action is likely on a matter related to the committee’s oversight function.
(e) Provide or have available for the media background information on oversight issues
awaiting committee action or consideration by the House or Senate.
(f) Consider making committee members readily available for television cameras either
before or after any executive sessions (e.g., allowing television crews in briefly at
the start to take video footage of the committee, or arranging for a press conference
after the committee session).
(g) Videotape, where appropriate committee members discussing topical oversight
issues for distribution to interested television stations.
(h) Keep the contact person of each of the network news interview programs (“Meet
the Press,” etc.) appraised of a committee’s oversight activities, and their relevance
to topical national issues. Suggest the appearance of committee members on
interview programs when a committee oversight issue becomes especially
(i) Be alert to live television interview possibilities for committee members that can be
arranged on relatively short notice (e.g., newsmaker interviews on cable news
(1) Time is of the essence. Radio newsmen want congressional reaction immediately, not
hours later when the story breaks in the newspaper or on television.
(2) Members who are readily available for quick interviews are frequently broadcast within
minutes or the next morning coast-to-coast on hundreds of radio stations. In most cases
an interview will be aired repeatedly over a period of several hours.
(3) Congressional offices should contact radio reporters directly through the House and
Senate press galleries.
(a) The periods between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are often preferable.
(b) Early morning press conferences usually have low attendance because reporters on
daily papers do not start work until mid-morning.
(c) Late afternoon press conferences are often unattended because reporters begin to
lose news time for that particular day.
(d) Check with the press galleries. They keep a running log of most scheduled news
events and can provide information on possible competition at any time on any day.
(a) Committee rooms are good, but they are frequently in use at the best time for a
(b) A Member’s office or the press galleries can be adequate, but keep in mind that the
reporters and cameramen need room to operate.
(c) It might be wise to go to the radio-TV galleries after the conference and do a repeat
to get electronic coverage.
(a) Notify the press galleries in writing as far in advance as possible.
(b) Also notify the wire services and television networks directly at their downtown
(a) A press conference should be viewed as an open house with everybody invited and
(b) A brief opening statement should be read or summarized. After copies of it have
been distributed, the questioning should begin.
(1) Leave plenty of time for questions.
(2) Do not restrict the areas of questioning.
(3) Anticipate the questions and have answers prepared.
(c) The normal time for a routine press conference is about one-half hour.
(1) A good news release answers in one page or less the questions where, when, who,
what, how, why, and, for some topics, how much (e.g., cost) or how many (e.g.,
(2) A good news release should:
(a) contain the name, telephone number, and e-mail of your press contact;
(b) be for immediate release (better than embargo);
(c) quote the Member directly;
(d) avoid excessive use of the Member’s name;
(e) avoid needless big words, long sentences, and long paragraphs; and
(f) make the point quickly, clearly, directly, and then end.
(1) Members and committees can use the Internet to communicate with media
representatives and constituents to explain their views and positions with respect to
oversight activities. The Internet permits lawmakers and committees to rely less on
traditional journalistic sources for coverage and more on direct communication with the
(2) The Internet can be employed in a variety of ways to mobilize public interest in
congressional oversight. For example, lawmakers can conduct on-line discussions with
interested citizens or committees can establish their own websites to solicit input from
individuals and organizations about executive branch departments and programs.
(3) There are various “bloggers” who now monitor federal spending. A USA Today
article—“‘Blogosphere’ Spurs Government Oversight,” September 12, 2006, p . 4A—
highlights this trend and underscores how more citizen participation in the public realm
can promote grater government accountability.
Statutory offices of inspector general (OIGs) consolidate responsibility for audits and
investigations within a federal agency. Established by public law as permanent, nonpartisan,
independent offices, they now exist in more than 60 establishments and entities, including all
departments and largest agencies, along with numerous boards and commissions. Under two
major enactments—the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988—inspectors
general (IGs) have been granted substantial independence and powers to carry out their mandate
to combat waste, fraud, and abuse. Recent laws have added offices in agencies, funding for
special operations, and law enforcement powers to OIGs in establishments. Other initiatives have
set up mechanisms to oversee the Gulf Recovery Program, while various legislative proposals
have been introduced to increase the IGs’ independence and establish new posts.
The IGs’ three principal responsibilities are:
• conducting and supervising audits and investigations relating to the programs and
operations of the establishment;
• providing leadership and coordination and recommending policies for activities
designed to promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of such programs
and operations, and preventing and detecting waste, fraud, and abuse in such
programs and operations; and
• providing a means for keeping the establishment head and Congress fully and
currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to such programs
and the necessity for and progress of corrective action.
To carry out these purposes, IGs have been granted broad authority to: conduct audits and
investigations; access directly all records and information of the agency; request assistance from
other federal, state, and local government agencies; subpoena information and documents;
administer oaths when taking testimony; hire staff and manage their own resources; and receive
and respond to complaints from agency employees, whose confidentiality is to be protected. In
addition, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 gave law enforcement powers to criminal
investigators in offices headed by presidential appointees. IGs, moreover, implement the cash
incentive award program in their agency for employee disclosures of waste, fraud, and abuse (5
Notwithstanding these powers and duties, IGs are not specifically authorized to take corrective
action themselves. Along with this, the Inspector General Act prohibits the transfer of “program
operating responsibilities” to an IG. The rationale here is that it would be difficult, if not
impossible, for IGs to audit or investigate programs and operations impartially and objectively if
they were directly involved in carrying them out.
IGs have reporting obligations regarding their findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
These include reporting (1) suspected violations of federal criminal law directly and expeditiously
to the Attorney General; (2) semiannually to the agency head, who must submit the IG report
(along with his or her comments) to Congress within 30 days; and (3) “particularly serious or
flagrant problems” immediately to the agency head, who must submit the IG report (with
comments) to Congress within seven days. The CIA IG must also report to the Intelligence
Committees if the Director or Acting Director is the focus of an investigation or audit. By means
of these reports and “otherwise,” IGs are to keep the agency head and Congress fully and
currently informed. Other means of communication include testifying at congressional hearings;
meeting with Members and staff of Congress; and responding to congressional requests for
information and reports.
In addition to having their own powers (e.g., to hire staff and issue subpoenas), the IGs’
independent status is reinforced in other ways: protection of their budgets in the larger
establishments, qualifications on their appointment and removal, prohibitions on interference with
their activities and operations, a proscription on operating responsibilities, and fixing the
priorities and projects for their office without outside direction in most cases. One exception to
the IGs’ rule occurs when a review is required in statute, while another is the contrary: in the few
instances when an establishment head prevents or halts an audit or investigation. IGs, of course,
may voluntarily conduct a review requested by the agency head, President, or legislators.
IGs serve under the “general supervision” of the agency head, reporting exclusively to the head or
to the officer next in rank if such authority is delegated. With but a few specified exceptions,
neither the agency head nor the officer next in line “shall prevent or prohibit the Inspector
General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation, or from issuing
any subpoena....” Under the IG Act, the heads of only six agencies—the Departments of Defense,
Homeland Security, Justice, and Treasury, plus the U.S. Postal Service and Federal Reserve
Board—may prevent the IG from initiating, carrying out, or completing an audit or investigation,
or issuing a subpoena, and then only for specified reasons: to preserve national security interests
or to protect ongoing criminal investigations, among others. When exercising this power, the
department head must transmit an explanatory statement for such action to the House
Government Reform Committee, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee, and other appropriate congressional panels within 30 days. The CIA IG Act also
similarly allows the head to prohibit the inspector general from conducting investigations, audits,
or inspections; but he must then notify the House and Senate intelligence panels of his reasons,
within seven days.
Presidentially appointed IGs in the larger federal agencies—but not in designated federal entities
(DFEs)—are granted a separate appropriations account (a separate budget account in the case of
the CIA) for their offices. This prevents agency administrators from limiting, transferring, or
otherwise reducing IG funding once it has been specified in law.
Under the Inspector General Act, IGs are to be selected without regard to political affiliation and
solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial and
management analysis, law, public administration, or investigations. The CIA IG, who operates
under a different statute, is to be selected under these criteria as well as prior experience in the
field of foreign intelligence and in compliance with the security standards of the agency.
Presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed IGs can be removed only by the President. When
so doing, he must communicate the reasons to Congress.
However, IGs in the (usually) smaller DFEs are appointed by can be removed by the agency
head, who must notify Congress in writing when exercising the power. In the Postal Service, by
comparison, the governors appoint the inspector general, one of only two IGs with a set term
(seven years) specified in law. The other is in the Capitol Police (five years), who is appointed by
and can be removed by the Capitol Police Board. Indirectly, the IG in the Peace Corps also faces
an effective limited tenure, because all positions in the entity are restricted to a certain period
(from five to 8½ years). Furthermore, the USPS IG is the only one with the qualification that he
or she can be removed only “for cause” and then only by the written concurrence of at least seven
of the nine governors.
Several presidential orders govern coordination among the IGs and investigating charges of
wrongdoing by the IGs themselves and other top echelon officers. The President’s Council on
Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) was established in 1981 to coordinate and enhance efforts at
promoting integrity and efficiency in government programs and to combat waste, fraud, and
abuse (E.O. 12301). Chaired by the Deputy Director of the OMB, the PCIE is composed of the
existing statutory IGs plus officials from other relevant agencies. In 1992, the concept was
extended to IGs in designated federal entities, through a parallel Executive Council on Integrity
and Efficiency (ECIE). Both PCIE and the ECIE now operate under E.O. 12805, issued in 1992.
An Intelligence Community Inspectors General Forum—a coordinative body of the inspectors
general from the IC agencies along with observers from the FBI and several defense units—also
exists. Investigations of alleged wrongdoing by IGs or other high-ranking OIG officials (under
the IG act) are governed by a special Integrity Committee, composed of PCIE and ECIE members
and chaired by the FBI representative (E.O. 12993), with investigations referred to an appropriate
executive agency or to an IG unit.
Statutory offices of inspector general been authorized in 63 current federal establishments and
entities, including all 15 cabinet departments; major executive branch agencies; independent
regulatory commissions; various government corporations and boards; and three legislative
branch agencies. All but six of the OIGs—in GPO, LOC, Capitol Police, CIA, ODNI, and the
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)—are directly and explicitly under the
1978 Inspector General Act. Each office is headed by an inspector general, who is appointed in
one of two ways:
(1) 30 are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in the federal
establishments, including all departments and the larger agencies under the IG
act specifically, plus the CIA under its separate statutory authority (Table 1).
(2) 33 are appointed by the head of the entity in the 28 designated federal
entities—usually smaller boards and commissions—and in five other units,
where the IGs operate under separate but parallel authority: SIGIR, ONDI, and
three legislative agencies (i.e., GPO, LOC, and U.S. Capitol Police) (Table 2).
Table 2. Statutes Authorizing Inspectors General Nominated by the President and
Confirmed by the Senate, 1976-Present
(current offices are in bold)a
Year Statute Establishment
1976 P.L. 94-505 Health, Education, and Welfare (now Health and Human Services)
1977 P.L. 95-91 Energy
1978 P.L. 95-452 Agriculture, Commerce, Community Services Administration,b
Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor,
Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, General
Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, Small Business Administration, Veterans
Administration (now the Veterans Affairs Department)
1979 P.L. 96-88 Education
1980 P.L. 96-294 U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporationb
1980 P.L. 96-465 Statec
1981 P.L. 97-113 Agency for International Developmentd
1982 P.L. 97-252 Defense
1983 P.L. 98-76 Railroad Retirement Board
1986 P.L. 99-399 U.S. Information Agencyb,c
1987 P.L. 100-213 Arms Control and Disarmament Agencyb,c
1988 P.L. 100-504 Justice,e Treasury, Federal Emergency Management b,f
Administration,Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of
1989 P.L. 101-73 Resolution Trust Corporationb
1989 P.L. 101-193 Central Intelligence Agencya
1993 P.L. 103-82 Corporation for National and Community Service
1993 P.L. 103-204 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Year Statute Establishment
1994 P.L. 103-296 Social Security Administration
1994 P.L. 103-325 Community Development Financial Institutions Fundb
1998 P.L. 105-206 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administrationg
2000 P.L. 106-422 Tennessee Valley Authorityh
2002 P.L. 107-189 Export-Import Bank
2002 P.L. 107-296 Homeland Securityf
a. All except the CIA IG are directly under the 1978 Inspector General Act, as amended.
b. CSA, Synfuels Corporation, USIA, ACDA, RTC, CDFIF, and FEMA have been abolished or transferred.
c. The State Department IG had also served as the IG for ACDA. In 1998, P.L. 105-277 transferred the
functions of ACDA and USIA to the State Department and placed the Broadcasting Board of Governors
and the International Broadcasting Bureau under the jurisdiction of the State IG.
d. The Inspector General in AID may also conduct reviews, investigations, and inspections of the Overseas
Private Investment Corporation (22 U.S.C. 2199(e)).
e. In 2002, P.L. 107-273 expanded the jurisdiction of the Justice OIG to cover all department components,
including DEA and the FBI.
f. P.L. 107-296, which established the Department of Homeland Security, transferred FEMA’s functions to it
and also granted law enforcement powers to OIG criminal investigators in establishments.
g. The OIG for Tax Administration in Treasury is the only case where a separate IG, under the 1978 IG Act,
exists within an establishment or entity that is otherwise covered by its own statutory IG.
h. P.L. 106-422, which re-designated TVA as an establishment, also created, in the Treasury Department, a
Criminal Investigator Academy to train IG staff and an Inspector General Forensic Laboratory.
Table 3. Designated Federal Entities and Other Agencies with Statutory IGs
Appointed by the Head of the Entity or Agency
(current offices are in bold)a
ACTIONb Interstate Commerce Commissionf
Amtrak Legal Services Corporation
Appalachian Regional Commission Library of Congressaj
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve National Archives and Records Administration
Board for International Broadcastingc National Credit Union Administration
Coalition Provisional Authority (in Iraq)a National Endowment for the Arts
Commodity Futures Trading Commission National Endowment for the Humanities
Consumer Product Safety Commission National Labor Relations Board
Corporation for Public Broadcasting National Science Foundation
Election Assistance Commissionl Office of the Director of National Intelligenceak
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Panama Canal Commissiong
Farm Credit Administration Peace Corps
Federal Communications Commission Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporationd Securities and Exchange Commission
ACTIONb Interstate Commerce Commissionf
Federal Election Commission Smithsonian Institution
Federal Home Loan Bank Boarde Special Inspector General for Iraq a
Federal Housing Finance Boarde Tennessee Valley Authorityh
Federal Labor Relations Authority United States Capitol Policeaj
Federal Maritime Commission United States International Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission United States Postal Servicei
Government Printing Officea
a. All these agencies—except SIGIR, ODNI, GPO, LOC, and Capitol Police—are considered “designated
federal entities” and placed directly under the 1978 IG Act by the 1988 Amendments and subsequent acts.
The CPA was dissolved in mid-2004 and its IG was converted to SIGIR.
b. In 1993, P.L. 103-82 merged ACTION into the new Corporation for National and Community Service.
c. The BIB was abolished by P.L. 103-236 and its functions transferred to the International Broadcasting
Bureau within USIA, which was later abolished and its functions transferred to the State Department.
d. In 1993, P.L. 103-204 made the IG in FDIC a presidential appointee, subject to Senate confirmation.
e. In 1989, P.L. 101-73 abolished the FHLBB and placed the new FHFB under the 1988 IG Act.
f. The ICC was abolished in 1995 by P.L. 104-88.
g. The Panama Canal Commission, replaced by the Panama Canal Commission Transition Authority, was
phased out with the transfer of the Canal to the Republic of Panama (22 U.S.C. 3611).
h. P.L. 106-422 re-designated TVA as a federal establishment.
i. In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General post was separated from the Chief Postal Inspector. The
separated IG is appointed by, and can be removed only by, the governors.
j. The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, FY2006 (P.L. 109-55) added IGs to LOC, following the IG Act of
1978 closely, and the Capitol Police, whose IG has specialized responsibilities.
k. P.L. 108-458 grants the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) full discretion to create and construct an
OIG in his Office (based on provisions in the IG Act). This occurred in 2006. ODNI, Report on the Progress
of the DNI in Implementing “the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004,” May 2006; and House Select Committee on
Intelligence, Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2007 (H.Rept. 109-411).
l. P.L. 107-252, the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Table 4. Tabulation of Existing Federal Establishments, Entities, or Agencies with IGs
Authorized in Law
Controlling IGs nominated by President IGs appointed by head of entity or Total
statute and confirmed by Senate agency
1978 IG Act, 29 28 57
Other statutes 1a 5b 6
Total 30 33 63
a. CIA Inspector General.
b. SIGIR, GPO, LOC, U.S. Capitol Police, and ODNI inspectors general.
Initiatives in response to the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes arose to increase OIG capacity and
capabilities in overseeing the unprecedented recovery and rebuilding efforts: an initial
coordinating team of IGs or deputies from affected agencies has evolved into the Homeland
Security Roundtable, chaired by the IG in DHS; a Hurricane Katrina Contract Task Force,
established by the Justice Department, includes relevant inspectors general; an official in the DHS
office has been designated to direct its effort here; and an additional $15 million for the OIG in
Homeland Security was approved (P.L. 109-62). Other proposals include setting up a long-term
task force or coordinative mechanism of IGs from relevant agencies and creating an office of
inspector general with overarching jurisdiction for gulf recovery programs (H.R. 3737 and 3810, th
109 Cong.). Other suggestions included consolidating DFE OIGs under one or more new
presidentially appointed IGs or under a related establishment office (GAO-02-575) and granting
law enforcement authority to DFE IGs.
Separate recommendations have arisen in the 110th Congress. H.R. 785 and S. 461 would
establish an inspector general for the Judicial Branch, appointed by and removable by the Chief
Justice for a renewable four-year term, with authority to investigate and audit matters pertaining
to the Judicial Branch. H.R. 3496 would create an IG in the office of the Architect of the Capitol
and one in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, while another would make the
Postal Service IG a presidential appointment (H.R. 22). A far-reaching proposal, advanced to
increase the IGs’ independence and powers, calls for sending the initial OIG budget requests to
Congress and OMB for later comparison with the final amount in the President’s budget
submission, removing an IG only “for cause,” setting a term of office for IGs, establishing a
Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency in law (thus, replacing the PCIE and
ECIE), revising the pay structure for IGs, and granting personnel flexibilities powers to IGs over
their own employees (H.R. 2489). Another (S. 680) would increase the pay level for
presidentially appointed IGs, set qualifications for the appointment and removal of IGs in
designated federal entities, and grant IGs subpoena power in any medium.
Congressional oversight of the executive is dependent to a large degree upon information
supplied by the agencies being overseen. In the contemporary era, reporting and prior
consultation provisions have increased in an attempt to ensure congressional access to
information, statistics, and other data on the workings of the executive. The result is that
approximately 4,000 reports arrive annually on Capitol Hill. Concerns about unnecessary,
duplicative, and wasteful reports, however, have prompted efforts to eliminate these. One such
initiative, in part stimulated by earlier recommendations from the Vice President’s National
Performance Review and from the GAO, resulted in the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset
Acts of 1995 and 1998. Nonetheless, reductions in the number of required reports have not kept
pace with new or continuing requirements, such as those identified in the 2001 act to Prevent the
Elimination of Certain Reports (P.L. 107-74).
Reporting requirements affect executive and administrative agencies and officers, including the
President; independent boards and commissions; and federally chartered corporations (as well as
the judiciary). These statutory provisions vary in terms of the specificity, detail, and type of
information that Congress demands. Reports may be required at periodic intervals, such as
semiannually or at the end of a fiscal year, or submitted only if and when a specific event,
activity, or set of conditions exists. The reports may also call upon an agency, commission, or
a. make a study and recommendations about a particular problem or concern;
b. alert Congress or particular committees and subcommittees in advance about a proposed or
planned activity or operation;
c. provide information about specific on-going or just-completed operations, projects, or
d. summarize an agency’s activities for the year or the prior six months.
Examples of Reporting Requirements in Law
Initial Requirement in the 1789 Treasury Department Act:
“That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury . . . to make report, and give
information to either branch of the legislature, in person or in writing (as he may be required),
respecting all matters referred to him by the Senate or House of Representatives, or which shall
appertain to his office . . . .” 1 Stat. 65-66 (1789)
Reporting on Covert Action in the 1991 Intelligence Oversight Act:
“The President shall ensure that the intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed
of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence
activity . . .
(1) The President shall ensure that any finding [authorizing a covert action] shall be reported
to the intelligence committees as soon as possible after such approval and before the initiation of
the covert action, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) and paragraph (3).
(2) If the President determines that it is essential to limit access to the finding to meet
extraordinary circumstances affecting the vital interests of the United States, the finding may be
reported to the chairmen and ranking minority members of the intelligence committees, the
Speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of
the Senate, and such other members of the congressional leadership as may be included by the
(3) Whenever a finding is not reported [in advance to the committees], the President shall
fully inform the intelligence committees in a timely fashion and shall provide a statement of the
reasons for not giving prior notice.” 105 Stat. 441-443 (1991)
In the past, explicit prior consultation provisions were rarely incorporated into law. However,
there appears to be an increase in statutory provisions as well as in committee reports that
accompany legislation specifying conditions for such discussion (see box).
A provision in the Conference Committee report on the 1978 Ethics in Government Act illustrates this development:
“The conferees expect the Attorney General to consult with the Judiciary Committees of both Houses of Congress
before substantially expanding the scope of authority or mandate of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal
A number of general management laws provide for additional sources of information, data, and
material that can aid congressional oversight endeavors.
The CFO act is designed to improve financial management throughout the federal government,
through various procedures and mechanisms.
officer in 23 major federal agencies, including all Cabinet departments; a 24 agency has
since been added. Sixteen of these posts are filled by presidential appointees subject to
Senate confirmation; these are in the 14 Cabinet departments plus the Environmental
Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The remaining
eight CFO positions are in the Agency for International Development, Federal Emergency
Management Agency, General Services Administration, National Science Foundation,
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management, Small Business
Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
2. The CFO act also provides for improvements in agency systems of accounting, financial
management, and internal controls to assure the issuance of reliable financial information
and to deter fraud, as well as waste and abuse of government resources.
3. The enactment, furthermore, calls for the production of complete, reliable, timely, and
consistent financial information for use by both the executive and the legislature in the
financing, management, and evaluation of federal programs.
This act—commonly known by the acronym GPRA or the Results Act—requires federal agencies
to submit long-range strategic plans and follow-up annual performance plans.
based on their basic missions and underlying statutory or other authority of the agency.
These plans, initially required in 1997, were to be developed in consultation with relevant
congressional offices and with information from “stakeholders” and then submitted to
2. Annual Performance Plans and Goals. Based on these long-term plans, which may be
modified if conditions and agency responsibilities change, the agencies are directed to set
annual performance goals and to measure the results of their programs in achieving these
goals. The objective of GPRA is to focus on outcomes (i.e., the results and
accomplishments of a program, such as a decline in the use of illegal drugs for an anti-drug
abuse program) rather than outputs (i.e. other measures of agency activity and operations,
such as the number of anti-drug agents in the field). The annual plans, which are also
available to Congress, began with FY1999; the follow-up reports, which began in 2000,
are required six months after the end of the fiscal year.
Subtitle E of this act established, for the first time, a mechanism by which Congress can review
and disapprove virtually any federal rule or regulation. It requires that:
1. All agencies promulgating a covered rule must submit a report to each house of Congress
and the Comptroller General, containing specific information about the rule before it can
go into effect.
2. Rules designated by the Office of Management and Budget as “major” may normally not
go into effect until 60 days after submission, while non-major rules may become effective
“as otherwise allowed in law,” usually 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
even if they have already gone into effect, for a period of at least 60 days. Upon enactment
of such a joint resolution, no new rule that is “substantially the same” as the disapproved
rule may be issued until it is specifically authorized by a law enacted subsequent to the
disapproval of the original rule.
4. There can be no judicial review of actions taken (or not taken) by Congress, the
Comptroller General, or OMB; but the failure of an agency to submit a covered rule for
congressional review may be subject to sanction by a federal court.
This most recent version of paperwork reduction legislation builds on a heritage of statutory
controls over government paperwork that dates to 1940.
1. Among other things, the current act and its 1980 predecessor more clearly defined the
oversight responsibilities of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA);
it is authorized to develop and administer uniform information policies in order to ensure
the availability and accuracy of agency data collection.
2. Congressional oversight has been strengthened through its subsequent reauthorizations and
the requirement for Senate confirmation of OIRA’s administrator.
FMFIA is designed to improve the government’s ability to manage its programs by strengthening
internal management and financial controls, accounting systems, and financial reports.
1. The internal accounting systems are to be consistent with standards that the Comptroller
General prescribes, including a requirement that all assets be safeguarded against waste,
fraud, loss, unauthorized use, and misappropriation.
2. FMFIA also provides for ongoing evaluations of the internal control and accounting
systems that protect federal programs against waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
3. The enactment further mandates that the head of each agency report annually to the
President and Congress on the condition of these systems and on agency actions to correct
any material weakness which the reports identify.
4. FMFIA is also connected to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, which calls upon the
director of OMB to submit a financial management status report to appropriate
congressional committees; part of this report is to be a summary of reports on internal
accounting and administrative control systems as required by FMFIA.
This enactment is intended to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in the exchange of
funds between the federal government and state governments. Its fundamental objective is to
prevent either level of government from engaging in cash management practices that allow it to
earn interest on cash reserves at the expense of the other.
This act requires that agencies buy the best and most cost-effective information technology
available. To do so, the act gave more responsibility to individual agencies, revoking the primary
role that the General Services Administration had played previously, and established the position
of chief information officer (CIO) in federal agencies to provide relevant advice to agency heads.
Congress formally acknowledged the merits of using advisory committees to obtain expert views
drawn from business, academic, government, and other interests when it enacted the Federal
Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 1972 (5 U.S.C. Appendix; 86 Stat. 700). Congressional
enactment of FACA established the first requirements for the management and oversight of
federal advisory committees to ensure impartial and relevant expertise. As required by FACA, the
General Services Administration (GSA) administers and provides management guidelines for
advisory committees. GSA also submits an annual report to the President and Congress, based on
the information provided by the federal agencies concerning the meetings, costs, and membership
of advisory committees. During FY2003, GSA reported a total of 953 advisory committees, with
31,385 individuals serving as members during the year. On March 14, 2000, GSA announced the
elimination of its annual report on advisory committees, relying instead on its website to make
available the detailed reports covering each committee’s activities during the fiscal year
http://fido.gov/facadatabase. GSA also issues an annual summary report for Congress pertaining
to advisory committee management and performance.
The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) replaced what has been
commonly referred to as the Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA),which th
expired at the end of the 107 Congress. Both GISRA and FISMA represent an effort by
Congress to improve federal agency compliance with information security standards and
guidelines. Congress put into statute certain requirements, including a directive that federal
agencies submit their information security programs to an annual independent review, along with
a requirement that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget report the results of
these reviews to Congress.
The Accountability of Tax Dollars Act (ATDA) of 2002 (P.L. 107-289; 116 Stat. 2049) was
intended “to expand the types of Federal agencies that are required to prepare audited financial
statements to all executive branch agencies in the federal government.” In fact, ATDA brings
almost all executive branch agencies under the requirement for preparation of annual audited
financial statements that previously applied only to the 24 major departments and agencies
covered by the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act. Specifically, Section 2(a) changes the list of
agencies covered by the audited annual financial statements requirement in 31 U.S.C. § 3515 by
deleting the cross-reference to CFO Act agencies and inserting “each covered executive agency.”
The Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996 (FFMIA) (110 Stat. 3009-389; 31
U.S.C. § 3512 note) incorporates in statute certain financial management system requirements
already established as executive branch policy. The law also requires auditors to report on agency
compliance with these requirements, and agency heads and management to correct deficiencies
within certain time periods. FFMIA reflects an ongoing effort to reform financial management in
the federal government. The 1996 law builds upon prior legislation, including the Chief Financial
Officers Act of 1990, the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, and the Government
Management Reform Act of 1994.
After considerable debate, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (P.L. 104-4; 109 Stat. 48-71; 2 th
U.S.C. §§ 1501-1571) was enacted early in the 104 Congress. Generally, unfunded
intergovernmental mandates include responsibilities or duties that federal programs, standards, or
requirements impose on governments at other levels without providing for the payment of the
costs of carrying out these responsibilities or duties. The intent of the mandate legislation was to
limit the ability of the federal government to impose costs on state and local governments through
unfunded mandates. The enactment has three components: revised congressional procedures
regarding future mandates; new requirements for federal agency regulatory actions; and
authorization for a study of existing mandates to evaluate their current usefulness. The primary
objective was to create procedures that would retard and spotlight, if not stop, congressional
authorization of new unfunded mandates on state and local governments.
On September 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Federal Funding
Accountability and Transparency Act (P.L. 109-282; 31 U.S.C. § 6101). This Act requires OMB
by 2008 to launch a searchable, free, and public website that will enable anyone to go online to
find information that names the recipients and dollar amounts of most federal grants, loans, and
contracts. A key concept of the new law is to provide citizens with greater transparency as to how
Federal funds are spent and thus be better able to hold public officials accountable for funding
The House of Representatives can call upon the executive for factual information through
resolutions of inquiry.
2. Resolutions of inquiry are addressed to either the President or heads of departments and
agencies to supply specific factual information to the chamber. The resolutions usually
“request” the President or “direct” administrative heads to supply such information. In
calling upon the President for information, especially about foreign affairs, the qualifying
phrase—“if not incompatible with the public interest”—is often added.
3. Such resolutions are to ask for facts, documents, or specific information; these devices are
not to request an opinion or require an investigation (see box).
4. Even when a committee of jurisdiction reports a resolution of inquiry adversely, or
succeeds in tabling the resolution on the House floor, it is often the case that the
Administration has substantially complied with the resolution.
5. Resolutions of inquiry can be instrumental in triggering other congressional methods of
obtaining information, such as through supplemental hearings or the regular legislative
6. A resolution of inquiry is privileged and may be considered in the House after it is
reported. If the resolution is not reported within 14 legislative days after its introduction,
any Member can move to discharge the committee of jurisdiction and bring the resolution
to the floor. However, action by a committee within the 14 days to reject the resolution
effectively sidetracks House action on the resolution.
Resolutions of Inquiry in Practice
The initial resolution of inquiry was approved on March 24, 1796, when the House sought documents
in connection with the Jay Treaty negotiations:
Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to lay before this House a copy of
the instructions to the minister of the United States, who negotiated the treaty with the King of
Great Britain . . . together with the correspondence and other documents relative to the said
treaty; excepting such of the said papers as any existing negotiation may render improper to be thst
delivered. (Journal of the House of Representatives, 4 Cong., 1 sess., March 24, 1796. p. 480.)
A contemporary illustration occurred on March 1, 1995, when the House adopted H. Res. 80, as thst
amended (104 Cong., 1 sess.), 407-21. The resolution sought information about the Mexican peso crisis
at the time and an Administration plan to use up to $20 billion in resources from the Exchange Stabilization
Fund to help stabilize the Mexican currency and financial system. The resolution read:
“Resolved, That the President, is hereby requested to provide the House of Representatives
(consistent with the rules of the House), not later than 14 days after the adoption of this
resolution, the following documents in the possession of the executive branch, if not inconsistent
with he public interest . . .” The House request then specified the matters that the documents
were to cover: The condition of the Mexican economy; consultations between the Government
of Mexico, on the one hand, and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and/or the International
Monetary fund, on the other; market policies and tax policies of the Mexican Government; and
repayment agreements between Mexico and the United States; among other things.
Congress uses a two-step legislative procedure: authorization of programs in bills reported by
legislative committees followed by the financing of those programs in bills reported by the
Committees on Appropriations. Congressional rules generally keep the two stages distinct and
sequential. Authorizations should not be in general appropriation bills, nor appropriations in
authorization measures. However, there are various exceptions to the general principle that
Congress should not make policy through the appropriations process. One exception is the
practice of permitting “limitations” in an appropriations bill. “Riders” (language extraneous to the
subject of the bill) are also added to control agency actions.
1. Limitations. Although House rules forbid in any general appropriations bill a provision
“changing existing law,” certain “limitations” may be admitted. “Just as the House under
its rules may decline to appropriate for a purpose authorized by law, so it may by limitation
prohibit the use of the money for part of the purpose while appropriating for the remainder
of it.” Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives, H. th
Doc. No. 106-320, 106 Cong., 2d Sess. §1053 (2001). Limitations can be an effective
device in oversight by strengthening Congress’s ability to exercise control over federal
spending and to reduce unnecessary or undesired expenditures. Under House Rule XXI, no
provision changing existing law can be reported in any general appropriation bill “except
germane provisions that retrench expenditures by the reduction of amounts of money
covered by the bill” (the Holman rule). Rule XXI was amended in 1983 in an effort to
restrict the number of limitations on appropriations bills. The rule was changed again in
1995 by granting the majority leader a central role in determining consideration of
limitation amendments. The procedures for limitation in the House are set forth in the
Congressional Record for January 6, 1999, p. H29. A well-known limitation is the Hyde
amendment, which since the 1970s has restricted the use of Medicaid funds to fund
abortions for indigent women (see box).
“None of the funds appropriated under this Act shall be expended for any abortion ... [except] (1) if the pregnancy is
the result of an act of rape or incest; or (2) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical
injury, or physical illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself,
that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.” Labor-
HHS Appropriations Act for fiscal 1998, 111 Stat. 1516, sec. 509 & 510 (1997).
2. Riders. Unlike limitations, legislative riders are extraneous to the subject matter of the bill
to which they are added. Riders appear in both authorization bills and appropriations bills.
In the latter, they may be subject to a point of order in the House on the ground that they
are attempts to place legislation in an appropriations bill. In the Senate, Rule XVI prohibits
on a point of order the addition to general appropriations bills of amendments that are
legislative or non-germane. Both chambers have procedures to waive these prohibitions
(see box on pg 103).
(a) No later than six months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall issue
interim final regulations establishing risk-based performance standards for security of chemical facilities and requiring
vulnerability assessments and the development and implementation of site security plans for chemical facilities:
Provided, That such regulations shall apply to chemical facilities that, in the discretion of the Secretary, present high
levels of security risk: Provided further, That such regulations shall permit each such facility, in developing and
implementing site security plans, to select layered security measures that, in combination, appropriately address the
vulnerability assessment and the risk-based performance standards for security for the facility: Provided further, That
the Secretary may not disapprove a site security plan submitted under this section based on the presence or absence
of a particular security measure, but the Secretary may disapprove a site security plan if the plan fails to satisfy the
risk-based performance standards established by this section: Provided further, That the Secretary may approve
alternative security programs established by private sector entities, Federal, State, or local authorities, or other
applicable laws if the Secretary determines that the requirements of such programs meet the requirements of this
section and the interim regulations: Provided further, That the Secretary shall review and approve each vulnerability
assessment and site security plan required under this section: Provided further, That the Secretary shall not apply
regulations issued pursuant to this section to facilities regulated pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act
of 2002, P.L. 107-295, as amended; Public Water Systems, as defined by section 1401 of the Safe Drinking Water Act,
P.L. 93-523, as amended; Treatment Works as defined in section 212 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act,
Public Law 92-500, as amended; any facility owned or operated by the Department of Defense or the Department of
Energy, or any facility subject to regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
(b) Interim regulations issued under this section shall apply until the effective date of interim or final regulations
promulgated under other laws that establish requirements and standards referred to in subsection (a) and expressly
supersede this section: Provided, That the authority provided by this section shall terminate three years after the date
of enactment of this Act.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and subsection (b), information developed under this section, including
vulnerability assessments, site security plans, and other security related information, records, and documents shall be
given protections from public disclosure consistent with similar information developed by chemical facilities subject to
regulation under section 70103 of title 46, United States Code: Provided, That this subsection does not prohibit the
sharing of such information, as the Secretary deems appropriate, with State and local government officials possessing
the necessary security clearances, including law enforcement officials and first responders, for the purpose of carrying
out this section, provided that such information may not be disclosed pursuant to any State or local law: Provided
further, That in any proceeding to enforce this section, vulnerability assessments, site security plans, and other
information submitted to or obtained by the Secretary under this section, and related vulnerability or security
information, shall be treated as if the information were classified material.
(d) Any person who violates an order issued under this section shall be liable for a civil penalty under section
70119(a) of title 46, United States Code: Provided, That nothing in this section confers upon any
person except the Secretary a right of action against an owner or operator of a chemical facility to enforce any
provision of this section.
(e) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall audit and inspect chemical facilities for the purposes of determining
compliance with the regulations issued pursuant to this section.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede, amend, alter, or affect any Federal law that regulates the
manufacture, distribution in commerce, use, sale, other treatment, or disposal of chemical substances or mixtures.
(g) If the Secretary determines that a chemical facility is not in compliance with this section, the Secretary shall
provide the owner or operator with written notification (including a clear explanation of deficiencies in the
vulnerability assessment and site security plan) and opportunity for consultation, and issue an order to comply by
such date as the Secretary determines to be appropriate under the circumstances: Provided, That if the owner or
operator continues to be in noncompliance, the Secretary may issue an order for the facility to cease operation, until
the owner or operator complies with the order. Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007, P.L.
109-295 § 550, 120 Stat. 1355 (2006).
Many acts of Congress have delegated authority to the executive branch on the condition that
proposed executive actions be submitted to Congress for review and possible disapproval before
they can be put into effect. This way of ensuring continuing oversight of policy areas follows two
paths: the legislative veto and advance notification.
1. Legislative Veto
Beginning in 1932, Congress delegated authority to the executive branch with the
condition that proposed executive actions would be first submitted to Congress and
subjected to disapproval by either house or disapproval by both houses acting through a
concurrent resolution. Over the years, other types of legislative veto were added, allowing
Congress to control executive branch actions without having to enact a law. In 1983, the
Supreme Court ruled that the legislative veto was unconstitutional on the ground that all
exercises of legislative power that affect the rights, duties, and relations of persons outside
the legislative branch must satisfy the constitutional requirements of bicameralism and
presentment of a bill or resolution to the President for his signature or veto. INS v. Chadha,
462 U.S. 919 (1983). Despite this ruling, Congress has continued to enact proscribed
legislative vetoes and it has also relied on informal arrangements to provide comparable
a. Legislative Vetoes in Statute
Congress responded to Chadha by converting some of the one-house and two-house
legislative vetoes to joint resolutions of approval or disapproval, thus satisfying the
requirements of bicameralism and presentment. However, Congress continues to rely on
legislative vetoes. Since the Chadha decision, more than 400 legislative vetoes have
been enacted into public law, usually in appropriations acts. These legislative vetoes are
exercised by the Appropriations Committees. Typically, funds may not be used or an
executive action may not begin until the Appropriations Committees have approved or,
at least, not disapproved the planned action, often within a specified time limit (see
For the appropriation account “Transportation Administrative Service Center,” no assessments may be levied against
any program, budget activity, subactivity or project funded by this statute “unless notice of such assessments and the
basis therefore are presented to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations and are approved by such
Committees.” Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2001, 114 Stat. 1356A-2
b. Informal Legislative Vetoes
Unlike a formal legislative veto, where the arrangement is spelled out in the law, the
informal legislative veto occurs where an executive official pledges not to proceed with
an activity until Congress or certain committees agree to it. An example of this appeared st
during the 101 Congress; in the “bipartisan accord” on funding the contras in
Nicaragua, the Administration pledged that no funds would be obligated beyond
November 30, 1989, unless affirmed by letter from the relevant authorization and
appropriations committees and the bipartisan leadership of Congress.
2. Advance Notification or Report-and-Wait
Statutory provisions may stipulate that before a particular activity can be undertaken by the
executive branch or funds obligated, Congress must first be advised or informed, ordinarily
through a full written statement, of what is being proposed. These statutory provisions
usually provide for a period of time during which action by the executive must be deferred,
giving Congress an opportunity to pass legislation prohibiting the pending action or using
political pressure to cause executive officials to retract or modify the proposed action. This
type of “report and wait” provision has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Court
noted: “The value of the reservation of the power to examine proposed rules, laws and
regulations before they become effective is well understood by Congress. It is frequently,
as here, employed to make sure that the action under the delegation squares with the
Congressional purpose.” Sibbach v. Wilson, 312 U.S. 1 (1941). An example appeared in the
Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, which was directed toward South Africa’s
political persecution of Nelson Mandela and other dissidents (see box).
“The President may suspend or modify any of the measures required by this title or section 501(c) or section 504(b)
thirty days after he determines, and so reports to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairman of
the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, that the Government of South Africa has [taken certain actions]
unless the Congress enacts within such 30-day period, in accordance with section 602 of this Act, a joint resolution
disapproving the determination of the President under this subsection.” 100 Stat. 103, sec. 311 (1986).
The statutory provisions for the appointment of an independent counsel (formerly called “special
prosecutor”) were originally enacted as Title VI of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, and
codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 591-599. The independent counsel was reauthorized in 1983, 1987, and
1994. It expired on June 30, 1999. The mechanisms of the independent counsel law were
triggered by the receipt of information by the Attorney General that alleged a violation of any
federal criminal law (other than certain misdemeanors or “infractions”) by a person covered by
the act. Certain high-level federal officials, including the President, Vice President, and heads of
departments, were automatically covered by the law. In addition, the Attorney General had
discretion to seek an independent counsel for any person for whom there may exist a personal,
financial or political conflict of interest for Justice Department personnel to investigate; and the
Attorney General could seek an independent counsel for any Member of Congress when the
Attorney General deemed it to be in the “public interest.”
After conducting a limited review of the matter (a 30-day threshold review of the credibility and
specificity of the charges, and a subsequent 90-day preliminary investigation, with a possible 60-
day extension), the Attorney General, if he or she believed that “further investigation is
warranted”, would apply to a special “division of the court,” a federal three-judge panel appointed
by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, requesting that the division appoint an independent
counsel. The Attorney General of the United States was the only officer in the government
authorized to apply for the appointment of an independent counsel. The special division of the
court selected and appointed the independent counsel, and designated his or her prosecutorial
jurisdiction, based on the information provided the court by the Attorney General. The
independent counsel had the full range of investigatory and prosecutorial powers and functions of
the Attorney General or other Department of Justice employees.
Collisions between Congress and Independent Counsels
“The Congress’ role here is terribly important. It is for them to present to the public as soon as possible a picture of
the actual facts as to the Iran/Contra matter. This is so because there has been so much exposed without sufficient
clarity to clear up the questions. There is a general apprehension that this is damaging. Congress properly wants to
bring this to an end soon and that gives them a real feeling of urgency for their investigation.
“[The House and Senate Iran-Contra Committees] are trying to provide a factual predicate which will enable
Congress to decide intelligently whether there is a need for a statutory amendment or for a closer oversight over
covert activities and other matters . . . As they quite properly point out, they cannot wait for Independent Counsel to
satisfy himself as to whether a crime may or may not have been committed. They have a problem of their own.
“. . . We are proceeding with much greater detail than Congress would think necessary for their purposes. We come
into collision when the question of immunity arises.
“. . . There is a greater pressure on Congress to grant immunity to central figures than there is for Independent
Counsel. Over the last three months, we have had long negotiations over this question of immunity . . .
“If the Congress decides to grant immunity, there is no way that it can be avoided. They have the last word and that
is a proper distribution of power. . . .
“. . .The reason why Congress must have this power to confer immunity is because of the importance of their role.
The legislative branch has the power to decide whether it is more important perhaps even to destroy a prosecution
than to hold back testimony they need.”
Lawrence E. Walsh, “The Independent Counsel and the Separation of Powers,” Houston Law Review, v. 25 (1988):1.
There was no specific term of appointment for independent counsels. They could serve for as
long as it took to complete their duties concerning that specific matter within their defined and
limited jurisdiction. Once a matter was completed, the independent counsel filed a final report.
The special division of the court could also find that the independent counsel’s work was
completed and terminate the office. A periodic review of an independent counsel for such
determination was to be made by the special division of the court. An independent counsel, prior
to the completion of his or her duties, could be removed from office (other than by impeachment
and conviction) only by the Attorney General of the United States for good cause, physical or
mental disability, or other impairing condition, and such removal could be appealed to the court.
The procedures for appointing and removing the independent counsel were upheld by the
Supreme Court in Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988).
Investigation by the independent counsel could compete with parallel efforts by congressional
committees to examine the same issue. Congress could decide to accommodate the needs of the
independent counsel, such as delaying a legislative investigation until the independent counsel
completed certain phases of an inquiry (see box on previous page).
Although Congress could call on the Attorney General to apply for an independent counsel by a
written request from the House or Senate Judiciary Committee, or a majority of members of
either party of those committees, the Attorney General is not required to begin a preliminary
investigation or to apply for an independent counsel in response to such a request. However, in
such cases the Justice Department was required to provide certain information to the requesting
The independent counsel was directed by statutory language to submit to Congress an annual
report on the activities of such independent counsel, including the progress of investigations and
any prosecutions. Although it was recognized that certain information would have to be kept
confidential, the statute stated that “information adequate to justify the expenditures that the
office of the independent counsel has made” should be provided. 28 U.S.C. § 595(a)(2).
The conduct of an independent counsel was subject to congressional oversight and an
independent counsel was required to cooperate with that oversight. 28 U.S.C. § 595(a)(1). In
addition, the independent counsel was required to report to the House of Representatives any
“substantial and credible” information that may constitute grounds for any impeachment. 28
U.S.C. § 595(c). On September 11, 1998, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr forwarded to the
House a report concluding that President Clinton may have committed impeachable offenses. The
House passed two articles of impeachment (perjury and obstruction of justice), but the Senate
voted only 45 to 55 on the perjury charge and 50 to 50 on the obstruction of justice charge, both
votes short of the two-thirds majority required under the Constitution.
The independent counsel statute expired in 1992, partly because of criticism directed at Lawrence
Walsh’s investigation of Iran-Contra. The statute was reauthorized in 1994, but objections to the
investigations conducted by Kenneth Starr into Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, and other matters,
put Congress under pressure to let the statute lapse on June 30, 1999.
Unless Congress in the future reauthorizes the independent counsel, the only available option for
an independent counsel is to have the Attorney General invoke existing authority to appoint a
special prosecutor to investigate a particular matter. For example, when the independent counsel
statute expired in 1992 and was not reauthorized until 1994, Attorney General Janet Reno
appointed Robert Fiske in 1993 to investigate the Clintons’ involvement in Whitewater and the
death of White House aide Vincent Foster. On July 9, 1999 Attorney General Reno promulgated
regulations concerning the appointment of outside, temporary counsels, to be called “Special
Counsels,” in certain circumstances to conduct investigations and possible prosecutions of certain
sensitive matters, or matters which may raise a conflict for the Justice Department (28 C.F.R. Part
600). Such special counsels will have substantially less independence than the statutory
independent General, including removal for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict
of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Department policies.”
Statutory Offices of Inspector General
Hendricks, Michael, et al. Inspectors General: A New Force in Evaluation. San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass, Inc., 1990.
Kaiser, Frederick M. Statutory Offices of Inspector General: Establishment and Evolution. CRS
Report 98-379 GOV, Regularly Updated.
——. “The Watchers’ Watchdog: The CIA Inspector General.” International Journal of
Intelligence and Counterintelligence, v.3, 1989. pp. 55-75.
Light, Paul C. Monitoring Government: Inspectors General and the Search for Accountability.
Washington: Brookings, 1993. HJ9801.L54
Newcomer, Kathryn E. The Changing Nature of Accountability: The Role of the Inspectors
General in Federal Agencies. Public Administration Review, vol. 58, March/April, 1998.
U.S. Congress. House Subcommittee on Government Efficiency. 25th Anniversary of the thst
Inspector General Act. Hearings, 108 Congress, 1 session. Washington: GPO, 2003.
U.S. Congress. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The Inspector General Act: 20 Years thnd
Later. Hearings, 105 Congress, 2 session. Washington: GPO, 1998.
U.S. General Accounting Office. Inspectors General: Office Consolidation and Related Issues.
GAO Report GAO-02-575, Washington: GAO, 2002.
——. Highlights of the Comptroller General’s Panel on Federal Oversight and the Inspectors
General. GAO Report GAO-06-931SP, Washington: GAO, 2006.
Reporting, Consultation, and Other Sources of Information
CRS Report RL31160, Disapproval of Regulations by Congress: Procedure Under the
Congressional Review Act, by Richard S. Beth, October 10, 2001.
CRS Report RL30795, General Management Laws: A Compendium, coordinated by Clinton T.
Brass, May 19, 2004.
CRS Report RL32339, Federal Regulations: Efforts to Estimate Total Costs and Benefits of
Rules, by Curtis W. Copeland, May 14, 2004.
Collier, Ellen C. “Reporting Requirements.” In Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. rdst
Congressional Reorganization: Proposals for Change. Senate Print 103-19, 103 Congress, 1
session. Washington: GPO, 1993. p. 135.
——. “Foreign Policy by Reporting Requirement.” The Washington Quarterly, vol. 11, Winter
Johannes, John. “Statutory Reporting Requirements: Information and Influence for Congress.” In
Abdo Baaklini, ed., Comparative Legislative Reforms and Innovations. New York: SUNY
Press, 1977. pp. 33-60.
Kerwin Cornelius. Rulemaking: How Government Agencies Write Laws and Make Policy, 2nd ed.
Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1999.
Rosenberg, Morton. Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking: A Brief Overview and
Assessment After Five Years. CRS Report RL30116, March 6, 2001.
U.S. General Accounting Office. Investigators’ Guide to Sources of Information. GAO Report
OSI-97-2. Washington: GAO, 1997.
U.S. General Accounting Office. A Systematic Management Approach Is Needed for
Congressional Reporting Requirements. GAO Report PAD-82-12. Washington: GAO, 1981.
U.S. House of Representatives. Clerk. Reports To Be Made to Congress. House Document 108-thst
U.S. Vice President Al Gore. National Performance Review. Creating a Government That Works
Better & Costs Less: Streamlining Management Control. Washington: Office of the Vice
President, 1993 (Reduce the Burden of Congressionally Mandated Reports, pp. 33-36).
Resolutions of Inquiry
CRS Report RL31909, House Resolutions of Inquiry, by Christopher M. Davis, May 12, 2003.
History of the United States House of Representatives, 1789-1994, H. Doc. 103-324, 103rd nd
Congress, 2 session. Washington: GPO, 1994 (Resolutions of Inquiry, pp. 260-262).
Methods and Techniques
Art, Robert J. “Congress and the Defense Budget: Enhancing Policy Oversight,” Political Science
Quarterly, v. 100, Summer 1985: 227-248.
Bowers, James R. Regulating the Regulators: An Introduction to the Legislative Oversight of
Administrative Rulemaking. New York: Praeger, 1990. 140p.
Hill, James P. “The Third House of Congress Versus the Fourth Branch of Government: The
Impact of Congressional Committee Staff on Agency Regulatory Decision-Making,” John
Marshall Law Review, v. 19, Winter 1986: 247-273.
Kaiser, Frederick M. “Congressional Oversight of the Presidency,” Annals of the American
Academy of Political and Social Science, v. 499, September 1988: 75-89.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations [now titled Homeland Security
and Government Affairs]. Subcommittee on Oversight Procedures. Committee Print. thnd
Congressional Oversight: Methods and Techniques. 94 Congress, 2 session, July 1976.
Washington: GPO, 1976. 254p.
Special Studies and Investigations by Staff and Others
Johannes, John R. To Serve the People: Congress and Constituency Service. Lincoln, University
of Nebraska Press, 1984. JK1071.J63
Kaiser, Frederick M. A Congressional Office of Constituent Assistance: Proposals, Rationales,
and Possible Objections. CRS Report 91-893 GOV, December 18, 1991.
Pontius, John S. Casework in a Congressional Office. CRS Report 98-878, September 9, 2004.
The Press and Media
Cook, Timothy E. Making Laws and Making News. Washington. The Brookings Institution,
1989. 210 p. JK1447.C66
Hess, Stephen. Live From Capitol Hill. Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1991. 178 p.
Mann, Thomas and Norman Ornstein, eds. Congress, the Press, and the Public. Washington: The
American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution, 1994. 212 p. JK1140.C62
Ritchie, Donald A. Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents. Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991. PN4899.W3R58
Congressional Quarterly. Guide to Congress. Washington: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2000, 5th
ed. Vol. I, pp. 249-280.
Dimock, Marshall E. Congressional Investigating Committees. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press,
Eberling, Ernest J. Congressional Investigations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1929.
Fisher, Louis. Constitutional Conflicts between Congress and the President. Lawrence, Kansas: th
University Press of Kansas, 1997, 4 revised ed. pp. 160-195. KF4565.F57
——. Congressional Access to Executive Branch Information: Legislative Tools. CRS Report
RL30966, May 17, 2001.
——. Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power. CRS Report RL31836,
April 2, 2003.
Hamilton, James. The Power To Probe: A Study of Congressional Investigations. New York:
Vintage Books, 1976. KF4942.H34
Kaiser, Frederick M. “Impact and Implications of the Iran-contra Affair on Congressional
Oversight of the Executive.” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,
vol. 7, Summer 1994, pp. 205-234.
Mayhew, David R. Divided We Govern: Party Control, Lawmaking, and Investigations, 1946-
Schlesinger, Arthur M. Jr. and Roger Bruns. Congress Investigates: A Documented History. New
York: Chelsea House, 1975 (5 vols.).
Taylor, Telford. The Grand Inquest: The Story of Congressional Investigations New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1955. KF4942.T38
Appropriations Limitations and Riders
Banks, William C. and Peter Raven-Hansen. National Security Law and the Power of the Purse.
New York, Oxford University Press, 1994. 260 p.
Devins, Neal. “Regulation of Government Agencies Through Limitation Riders,” Duke Law
Journal, v. 1987: 456.
Fisher, Louis. “The Authorization-Appropriation Process in Congress: Formal Rules and Informal
Practices,” Catholic University Law Review, v. 29, 1979:5.
LeBoeuf, Jacques B. “Limitations on the Use of Appropriations Riders by Congress to Effectuate
Substantive Policy Changes,” Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, v. 19, 1992: 457.
The Legislative Veto
Biden, Joseph R., Jr. “Who Needs the Legislative Veto?” Syracuse Law Review, v. 35, 1984: 685.
Breyer, Stephen. “The Legislative Veto After Chadha.” Georgetown Law Journal, v. 72, 1984:
Craig, Barbara Hinson. Chadha: The Story of an Epic Constitutional Struggle. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1988. KF228.C43C73
Fisher, Louis. “The Legislative Veto: Invalidated, It Survives,” Law & Contemporary Problems,
v. 56, 1993: 273.
Gibson, Martha Liebler. Weapons of Influence: the Legislative Veto, American Foreign Policy,
and the Irony of Reform. Boulder, Colo., Westview Press, 1992. 188p. JX1706.G53
Kaiser, Frederick M. “Congressional Action to Overturn Agency Rules: Alternatives to the
‘legislative veto.’” Administrative Law Review, v. 32, 1980: 667.
Korn, Jessica. The Power of Separation: American Constitutionalism and the Myth of the
Legislative Veto. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996. 178p.
Eastland, Terry. Ethics, Politics and the Independent Counsel. Washington, National Legal Center
for the Public Interest, 1989. 180 p.
Harriger, Katy J. The Special Prosecutor in American Politics, 2d ed. revised. Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 2000. 325 p.
Jost, Kenneth. “Independent Counsels: Should Congress make major changes in the law?” CQ
Researcher, v. 7, no. 7, February 21, 1997: 145-167.
Koukoutchos, Brian Stuart. Constitutional Kinetics: the Independent Counsel Case and the
Separation of Powers. Wake Forest law review, v. 23, 1988: 635.
Maskell, Jack. The Independent Counsel Law. The Federal Lawyer, July 1998: 28-39.
Nolan, Beth. “Removing Conflicts from the Administration of Justice: Conflicts of Interest and
Independent Counsels Under the Ethics in Government Act.” Georgetown Law Journal, v. 79,
Walsh, Lawrence E. The Independent Counsel and the Separation of Powers. Houston Law
Review, v. 25, 1988: 1.
Congress calls upon a variety of sources for information and analysis to support its oversight
activities. Most of this assistance is provided by legislative support agencies: The Congressional
Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Government Accountability Office.
In addition, the Offices of Senate Legal Counsel and House General Counsel are valuable
oversight resources. A range of outside interest groups and research organizations also provide
rich sources of information.
1. CRS Mission Statement
“The Congressional Research Service provides the Congress, throughout the legislative
process, comprehensive and reliable legislative research, analysis, and information services
that are timely, objective, nonpartisan, and confidential, thereby contributing to an
informed national legislature.”
CRS is organized into five interdisciplinary research divisions: American Law; Domestic
Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and
Resources, Science and Industry. The Knowledge Services Group provides research
support services to CRS analysts and attorneys in providing authoritative and reliable
information research and policy analysis to the Congress.
3. Staff of CRS
CRS has about 700 employees on its permanent staff. The professional staff are diverse,
including, among others, attorneys, economists, engineers, social science analysts,
information scientists, librarians, defense and foreign affairs analysts, political scientists,
public administrators, and physical and biological scientists.
4. CRS Work for Congress
CRS provides the following services:
a. Policy analysis and research
CRS staff anticipates and responds to congressional needs for policy analysis, research and
information in an interdisciplinary, integrated manner. CRS provides timely and objective
responses to congressional inquiries for policy analysis, research and information at every stage
of the legislative process.
Legislative attorneys and paralegal staff respond to congressional needs for legal information and
analysis to support the legislative, oversight, and representational functions of Congress.
b. Information research
Information research specialists and resource specialists are available to provide information
research and reference assistance. The staff also provides copies of articles in newspapers,
journals, legal and legislative documents and offers assistance with a wide variety of electronic
c. Briefings, seminars, and workshops
CRS conducts briefings, seminars, and workshops for Members of Congress and their staffs. On
these occasions CRS analysts and other experts discuss public policy issues, international
concerns, and the legislative process.
Briefings. CRS analysts and specialists are available to give one-on-one briefings to
Members and staff on public policy issues, the legislative process, congressional office
operations, committee matters, or a general orientation to CRS.
Issue seminars and workshops. In anticipation of congressional interest or at the request of
a Member or committee, CRS organizes and conducts seminars and workshops on issues of
current interest to Members and staff of Congress. CRS and outside experts participate in
these events with Members and staff.
Federal Law Update. This series, offered twice yearly by the American Law Division,
focuses on developments on important issues of law directly related to the legislative business
of the Congress. The series can meet continuing legal education (CLE) requirements in some
CRS Legislative Institutes. This three-part series provides training in the work of Congress
and the legislative process. Topics include the federal budget process, committee system and
procedures, floor procedures, amendments, and resolutions. In the Graduate Legislative
Institute, participants simulate congressional proceedings as “members of the CRS Congress”
and gain experience in procedures by moving bills through the legislative process.
Public Policy Issues Institute. Held at the beginning of each session of the Congress, this
program provides introductory briefings and discussions by CRS staff on issues of legislative
significance to the Congress.
District and Staff Institutes. These institutes provide orientation for staff of district offices
that include discussions of CRS services, the legislative and budget processes, casework,
Member allowances, ethics, and franking. The program is supported by the House and
New Member Seminar. Every two years CRS offers new Members an orientation seminar
on public policy issues. These sessions are held in January at the beginning of each new
For additional information about CRS seminars and events, call 7-7904.
a. Customized Memoranda
Confidential memoranda prepared for a specific office are a major form of CRS written
communication. These memoranda are solely for the use of the requesting office and are not
distributed further unless permission has been given by that office. Memoranda are often used by
CRS attorneys and analysts to respond to inquiries focused on legislative and policy matters of
individual Member interest.
b. CRS Reports
Reports for Congress on specific issues take many forms: policy analyses, statistical reviews,
economic studies, legal analyses, historical studies, chronological reviews, and bibliographies.
Reports are available on the CRS website at http://www.crs.gov. In addition, CRS prepares
concise briefing papers on issues before the Congress.
c. Congressional Distribution Memoranda
Matters that are not suitable for treatment in a CRS Report, but that may be of interest to more
than one congressional office, can be the subject of general distribution memoranda provided to a
congressional office upon request. General Distribution memoranda differ from Reports because
they are tailored; are directed to a specific question or concern; or are more technical or focused
d. The La Follette Congressional Reading Room, the CRS Research Centers and the
Jefferson Congressional Reading Room
Staff in the congressional reading rooms and research centers provide telephone reference
assistance and in-person consultation on resources and research for congressional staff. A selected
research collection, newspapers and journals, and assistance with online searching is available.
La Follette Congressional Reading Room
Rayburn Research Center
Russell Senate Research Center
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
(Hours may change when Congress is not in session.)
The Jefferson Congressional Reading Room is a Members only facility staffed by CRS research
librarians providing in-person service.
e. Electronically Accessible Products and Services
CRS Website http://www.crs.gov. The CRS Website provides 24-hour access to an array of CRS
services including full text of reports, a weekly “Legislative Alert,” updates and analyses of the
annual appropriations legislation, an interactive guide to the legislative process, online
registration for CRS seminars, and complete information on other CRS services. In operation th
since the 104 Congress, the CRS Website is accessible only to House and Senate offices and
other legislative branch agencies. A linked format allows the user to move easily within a CRS
online document and link to the text and summary of relevant legislation and other CRS products
on the topic.
Legislative Information System http://www.congress.gov. The Legislative Information System th
(LIS) was available for the first time on Capnet at the beginning of the 105 Congress. The
system provides Members of Congress and their staff with access to the most current and
comprehensive legislative information available. It can be accessed only by the House and Senate
and the legislative support agencies. The LIS has been developed under the policy direction of the
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the House Committee on House
Administration. It has been a collaborative project of the offices and agencies of the legislative
branch, including the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House; House Information
Resources and the Senate Sergeant at Arms; the Government Printing Office; the Government
Accountability Office; the Congressional Budget Office; the Congressional Research Service; and
the Library of Congress. CRS has responsibility for the overall coordination of the retrieval
system; the Library of Congress is responsible for its technical development and operation.
Floor Agenda. The “Floor Agenda: CRS Products” page, a weekly compendium of CRS products
relevant to scheduled or expected floor action in the House and Senate, was available on the CRS
website and through e-mail subscription to all Members, committees, subcommittees, and
congressional staff. All CRS products listed on the Floor Agenda were linked for electronic
delivery to subscriber desktops.
CRS Programs Listserv. Launched in fiscal 2001, this e-mail notification system provides
subscribers with descriptions of current CRS programs and links to online registration forms.
Current Legislative Issues. The Current Legislative Issues (CLI) system, accessible to the
Congress from the CRS Home Page, reflects policy areas identified by CRS research staff as
active and of current importance to the Congress. All products presented as CLIs are maintained
to address significant policy developments. On occasion the system is used to facilitate the
contribution of CRS expertise in situations requiring immediate attention of the Congress on an
unanticipated basis. CRS typically develops and maintains about 150 CLIs a year.
Appropriations. The CRS Appropriations Web Page continues to provide comprehensive
legislative tracking and access to legislative analysis of each of the 13 annual appropriations bills.
The appropriations status table includes an online guide to the FY2003 Consolidated
Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-7), which offered access and short cuts to notable sections from the
end-of-session measure that combined 11 appropriations acts into one bill.
f. Audiovisual Products and Services
Audiovisual Products and Services. CRS provides a variety of audiovisual products and technical
assistance in support of its service to the Congress. These include producing video or audio
copies of CRS institutes and seminars that congressional staff can request for viewing in DVD
format or at their desktops from the Web. The Web versions are broken out into subtopics so that
individual viewers can go directly to the portions that are of greatest interest to them. In addition,
CRS provides two hours of television programming each weekday for the house and Senate
Language Support. The Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division provides limited
translation services for Members and committees. For translations pertaining to legislative
business into or from other languages, the division can make arrangements to contract the work to
5. CRS Divisional Responsibilities
CRS has adopted an interdisciplinary and integrative approach as it responds to requests from the
Congress. The Service seeks to define complex issues in clear and understandable ways, identify
basic causes of the problems under consideration, and highlight available policy choices and
potential effects of action. CRS is organized into the following divisions and offices to support
the analysis, research, and information needs of the Congress.
American Law Division
The American Law Division provides the Congress with legal analysis and information on the
range of legal questions that emerge from the congressional agenda. Division lawyers work with
federal, state, and international legal resources in support of the legislative, oversight, and
representational needs of Members and committees of Congress. The division’s work involves the
constitutional framework of separation of powers, congressional-executive relations and
federalism; the legal aspects of congressional practices and procedures; and the myriad questions
of administrative law, constitutional law, criminal law, civil rights, environmental law, business
and tax law, and international law that are implicated by the legislative process. In addition, the
division prepares The Constitution of the United States of America—Analysis and Interpretation
(popularly known as the Constitution Annotated).
Domestic Social Policy Division
The Domestic Social Policy Division offers the Congress research and analysis in the broad area
of domestic social policies and programs. Analysts use multiple disciplines in their research,
including program and legislative expertise, quantitative methodologies, and economic analysis.
Issue and legislative areas include education and training, health care and medicine, public health,
social security, public and private pensions, welfare, nutrition, housing, immigration, civil rights,
drug control, crime and criminal justice, border security and domestic intelligence, labor and
occupational safety, unemployment and workers compensation, and issues related to the aging of
the U.S. population, to children, persons with disabilities, the poor, veterans, and minorities.
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade
The Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division is organized into seven regional and functional
sections. Analysts follow worldwide political and economic and security developments for the
Congress, including U.S. relations with individual countries and transnational issues such as
terrorism, narcotics, refugees, international health, global economic problems, and global
institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World
Trade Organization. They also address U.S. foreign aid programs, strategies, and resource
allocations; State Department budget and functions; international debt; public diplomacy; and
legislation on foreign relations. Other work includes national security policy, military strategy,
weapons systems, military compensation, the defense budget, and U.S. military bases. Trade-
related legislation, policies, and programs and U.S. trade performance and investment flows are
covered, as are trade negotiations and agreements, export promotion, import regulations, tariffs,
and trade policy functions.
Government and Finance Division
The Government and Finance division is responsible for meeting the analytic and research needs
of Congress on matters relating to government operations and oversight, intergovernmental
relations, congressional organization and procedures, public finance, financial regulation, and
macroeconomic policy. Issue areas related to government include the operations and history of
Congress; the legislative process; the congressional budget and appropriations processes; federal
executive and judicial branch organization and management; government personnel; government
information policy; statehood, territories and the District of Columbia; disaster assistance and
homeland security; census and reapportionment; elections and political parties; lobbying; and
constitutional amendments and history. Issue areas related to finance and economics include
financial institutions and market structure; financial markets and securities regulation; insurance;
consumer finance, including banking, credit reporting, and financial privacy; government-
sponsored enterprises and housing finance; debt and taxation; economic development;
international finance, including foreign exchange and financial flows; monetary and fiscal policy;
and macroeconomic conditions and indicators, such as gross domestic product, price indexes, and
Knowledge Services Group
The Knowledge Services Group (KSG) is comprised of information research professionals who
partner with CRS analysts and attorneys in providing authoritative and reliable information
research and policy analysis to the Congress. Information professionals are clustered together by
policy research area and align their work directly to the CRS analytical divisions (see listing
above), providing analysis in those same policy areas. KSG members 1) write descriptive
products and contribute descriptive input to analytical products in policy research areas; 2) advise
CRS analysts and the Congress in finding solutions for their information needs, and make
recommendations for incorporating new research strategies into their work; 3) create customized
Web pages; 4) evaluate, acquire, and maintain state-of-the-art resources materials and collections
for CRS staff; 5) work with the analytical divisions in ensuring the currency and accuracy of CRS
products and CRS-created databases and spreadsheets; 6) maintain the currency,
comprehensiveness, and integrity of CRS information resources by identifying, assessing,
acquiring, organizing, preserving, and tracking materials; 7) provide authoritative information on
specific policy research areas through discussions or presentations; 8) provide or coordinate
customized training on information research or information resources for individuals or groups,
as requested or anticipated.
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
The Resources, Science, and Industry Division covers an array of legislative issues for the
Congress involving natural resources and environmental management, science and technology,
and industry and infrastructure. Resources work includes policy analysis on public lands and
other natural resources issues; environment; agriculture, food, and fisheries; and energy and
minerals. Science coverage includes policy analysis on civilian and military research and
development issues, information and telecommunications, space, earth sciences, and general
science and technology. Support on industry issues includes policy analysis on transportation and
transportation infrastructure issues, industrial market structure and regulation, and sector-specific
Office of Finance and Administration
The Office of Finance and Administration maintains oversight of the Service’s planning,
management controls, financial management, and administrative activities. This includes
coordinating development of the Service’s strategic planning goals and annual program plans and
conducting quarterly performance reviews. This office directs a full range of fiscal operations to
achieve the Director’s program objectives, including development of long-range budgetary
requirements and associated appropriations requests, budget execution, contracting, and fund-
raising. The office also performs facilities management and asset control activities and co-chairs
the Services Contract Review Board, conducts a business analysis of all proposals for external
research capacity, and makes recommendations to the Director.
Office of Information Resources Management
The Office of Information Resources Management develops and maintains information services
that support both the Congress and CRS staff. The office provides information support to CRS
staff through its management of three Information Resource Centers, reference services,
procurement of electronic and print resources, training in the use of electronic resources, and
Intranet resource development.
Office of the Congressional Affairs and Counselor to the Director
The Office of Congressional Affairs and Counselor to the Director provides counsel to the
Director and Deputy Director on matters of law and policy—planning, developing, and
coordinating matters relating to internal CRS policies, particularly as they affect the Service’s
relationships with congressional clients and other legislative support agencies. The office
provides final CRS review and clearance of all CRS products; ensures that the Service complies
with applicable guidelines and directives contained in the Reorganization Act, in statements by
appropriations and oversight committees, and in Library regulations and CRS policy statements.
This office receives, assigns to the research divisions, and tracks congressional inquiries; works
with the divisions to plan and carry out institutes, seminars, and briefings for Members,
committees, and their staffs, and takes the lead in developing, strengthening, and implementing
outreach to congressional offices; records, tracks, and reports data on congressional inquiries and
CRS responses; and develops and refines systems designed to provide managers with statistical
information needed to analyze subject coverage, client service, and the use of resources. The
office also provides a co-chair of the External Research Review Board, which reviews contract
proposals and makes recommendations to the Director, and provides the CRS representative to
the Interagency Liaison Group of legislative support agencies.
Office of Legislative Information
The Office of Legislative Information develops and maintains information services that support
both the Congress and CRS staff, including the CRS website and the congressional legislative
information retrieval system (LIS); provides summaries and status information for all bills
introduced each Congress; builds and maintains the technology infrastructure of the Service as a
whole; develops and applies new technologies to enhance CRS research capability and
productivity; develops and implements information technology to enhance communication of
CRS research to its clients; edits, produces, and distributes CRS products in both print and
electronic format; and represents the Director in dealing with other organizations and agencies on
issues regarding legislative information technology.
The Office of Workforce Development
The Office of Workforce Development administers the Service’s human resources programs and
the following activities: staffing, recruitment, position classification, diversity, upward mobility,
performance management, mentoring, special recognition, and training and professional
development. This office represents the Director on issues involving the Service’s status, role,
activities, and interaction with other Library entities in relevant areas of human resources
administration, management, and development. Overall the goal of the office is to enhance the
Service’s ability to attract and retain the human resources talent it needs to respond to the
dynamic research, analysis, and information needs of the Congress.
6. Interdisciplinary Teams
a. Identification of Major Issues
As part of Service-wide planning efforts, CRS managers attempt to anticipate major
congressional issues. The program identifies and defines major issues, structures them for more
effective scrutiny by the Congress, and provides effective, timely, and comprehensive products
and services to the Congress, that usually require multi-disciplinary and interdivisional
contributions. The issues chosen are national in scope, receive widespread public attention, have
significant effects on the federal budget, economy, or social fabric of the Nation, and are virtually
certain to be the subject of congressional hearings and legislative action.
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 and specific provisions in various other Acts direct
and authorize CRS to provide a great range of products and services to the Congress. However,
pursuant to these statutory authorities and understandings reached over time in consultation with
the relevant oversight committees, the Service has developed the following policies limiting or
barring certain types of assistance. When it appears that a congressional request should be
declined on these policy grounds, that decision and notification to the requestor is to be made
only after consultation with the appropriate division chief or the Associate Director for Policy
a. CRS cannot prepare reports, seminars or undisclaimed products which are of a partisan
nature or advocate bills or policies. But CRS will respond to requests for “directed
writing”—statement drafts, casemaking or other disclaimed products clearly identified as
prepared at the direction of the client and not for attribution as CRS analysis or opinion. In
no case is excessive partisanship, incorrect factual data, moral denigration of opponents, or
personal research damaging to Members permissible.
b. CRS cannot provide researched information focusing on individual Members or living
former Members of Congress (other than holders of, or nominees to, federal appointive
office), except at the specific request or with permission of the Member concerned.
c. Members of the CRS staff shall not appear as witnesses before committees of Congress in
their capacity as CRS employees or on matters relating to their official duties without the
express consent of the Director.
d. CRS does not draft bills (a function of the office of the legislative counsels), but will assist
with the preparation of legislative proposals.
e. CRS cannot meet deadlines or demands that could only be met by dropping or jeopardizing
the quality of responses to urgent legislative requests related to the public policy work of
the Congress, but the Service will respond to all requests as rapidly as is feasible under
prevailing workload conditions.
f. CRS cannot accept “rush” or priority deadlines on constituent inquiries but will respond as
expeditiously as is possible without compromising the quality of responses relating to
current legislative business.
g. CRS cannot undertake casework or provide translating services or briefings for
constituents, but can lend assistance in responding to constituent matters, including
identification of the appropriate agency or private entity to contact for further pursuit of the
h. CRS cannot give personal legal or medical advice, but will assist in the provision of
background information, the identification of relevant issues for further scrutiny, and
advice on sources of additional assistance.
i. CRS cannot undertake scholastic or personal research for office staff, but can, on a
nonpriority basis, help with bibliographic and reference services.
j. CRS assistance for former Members of Congress should be limited to use of the La Follette
Reading Room and reference centers, the hotline service, the provision of readily available
information and previously prepared CRS congressional distribution products. CRS cannot
undertake original research for former Members, but on a nonpriority basis responds to
requests for reference services and research guidance.
k. CRS is not authorized to provide congressional offices with clerical assistance (e.g.,
typing, duplication, maintenance of mailing lists, continuing clipping services, etc.).
l. CRS must not use its staff to index hearings or congressional documents other than those
prepared by the Service itself.
m. The Library of Congress is not authorized to subscribe to or lend on a regular basis current
issues of periodicals and newspapers for the purpose of furnishing them regularly to
individual congressional offices.
n. CRS must not use its staff to support executive or other commissions that are not funded
through the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. In those instances where Members of
Congress are official members of a commission not served by CRS, the Service may
supply customary assistance to the Members, but queries should be placed through the
Members’ offices by their official staffs, and the replies should be sent to the Members’
offices, not to the office of the commission.
o. CRS does not conduct audits or field investigations.
p. CRS is not authorized to provide its services in support of political campaign
q. While CRS reference and research specialists serve all Members and committees of
Congress, the Director has the authority to assign staff to work temporarily for particular
committees on request. In current circumstances, however, no full time assignments may
be approved, and staff assigned to close support of a committee must be available to serve
other clients. When staff is adequate to permit the loan of subject specialists for short
periods, the Director may approve formal requests without reimbursement; staff loans for
periods of over 60 days must be reimbursed. No full-time assignment of staff is approved if
the assignment leaves the Service unable to adequately serve the Congress.
r. As a general rule, the services of CRS are provided exclusively to the Congress and, to the
extent provided by law, to other congressional support agencies. Because of the benefits
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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was created by the Congressional Budget and
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For over two decades the offices of Senate Legal Counsel and House General Counsel have
developed parallel yet distinctly unique and independent roles as institutional legal “voices” of
the two bodies they represent. Familiarity with the structure and operation of these offices and the
nature of the support they may provide committees in the context of an investigative oversight
proceeding is essential.
The Office of Senate Legal Counsel94 was created by Title VII of the Ethics in Government Act of 95
another.” The counsel and deputy counsel are appointed by the president pro tempore of the
94 A full description of the Office of Senate Legal Counsel and its work may be found in Floyd M. Riddick and Alan S.
Frumin, Riddick’s Senate Procedure, S.Doc. 28, 101st Cong., 2nd sess. 1236 (1992). See Charles Tiefer, The Senate and
House Counsel Offices: Dilemmas of Representing in Court the Institutional Congressional Client, Law and
Contemporary Problems, vol. 61: no. 2, spring 1998:48-63 (providing a more recent discussion of the history,
development and work of both the Senate and House counsels’ offices).
95 P.L. 95-520, secs. 701 et seq., 92 Stat. 1824, 1875 (1978), codified principally in 2 U.S.C. §§ 288, et seq.
96 S.Rept. 95-170, 95th Cong., 2nd sess. 84 (1978).
Senate upon the recommendation of the majority and minority leaders. The appointment of each
is made effective by a resolution of the Senate, and each may be removed from office by a
resolution of the Senate. The term of appointment of the counsel and deputy counsel is two
Congresses. The appointment of the counsel and deputy counsel and the counsel’s appointment of
assistant Senate Legal Counsel are required to be made without regard to political affiliation. The
office is responsible to a bipartisan Joint Leadership Group, which is comprised of the majority
and minority leaders, the president pro tempore, and the chairman and ranking minority member 97
of the Committees on the Judiciary and on Rules and Administration.
The act specifies the activities of the office, two of which are of immediate interest to committee
oversight concerns: representing committees of the Senate in proceedings to aid them in 98
investigations, and advising committees and officers of the Senate.
(1) Proceedings to Aid Investigations by Senate Committees
The Senate Legal Counsel may represent committees in proceedings to obtain evidence for
Senate investigations. Two specific proceedings are authorized.
The first proceeding is under the law providing committees the authority to grant witness
immunity (18 U.S.C. § 6005). It provides that a committee or subcommittee of either house of
Congress may request an immunity order from a U.S. district court when the request has been
approved by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the full committee. By the same
vote, a committee may direct the Senate Legal Counsel to represent it or any of its subcommittees 99
in an application for an immunity order.
The second proceeding involves authority under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 which
permits the Senate Legal Counsel to represent a committee or subcommittee of the Senate in a
civil action to enforce a subpoena. Prior to the Ethics Act, subpoenas of the Senate could be
enforced only through the cumbersome method of a contempt proceeding before the bar of the
Senate or by a certification to the U.S. attorney and a prosecution for criminal contempt of
Congress under 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194. The Ethics Act authorizes the Senate to enforce its 100
subpoenas through a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The
House chose not to avail itself of this procedure and this enforcement method applies only to
Senate subpoenas. Senate subpoenas have been enforced in several civil actions. See, for
example, proceedings to hold in contempt a recalcitrant witness in the impeachment proceedings 101
against Judge Alcee L. Hastings and proceedings to enforce a subpoena duces tecum for the 102
production of diaries of Senator Bob Packwood.
97 2 U.S.C. § 288(a) and (b), 288a.
98 In addition, the office is called upon to defend the Senate, its committees, officers and employees in civil litigation
relating to their official responsibilities or when they have been subpoenaed to testify or to produce Senate records; and
to appear for the Senate when it intervenes or appears as amicus curiae in a lawsuit to protect the powers or
responsibilities of Congress.
99 2 U.S.C. § 288b(d)(2), 288f.
100 28 U.S.C. § 1365.
101 See S.Rept. 98, 101st Cong., 1st sess. (1989).
102 See, Senate Select Committee on Ethics v. Packwood, 845 F.Supp 17 (D.D.C. 1994), petition for stay pending
appeal denied, 510 U.S. 1319 (1994).
The statute details the procedure for directing the Senate Legal Counsel to bring a civil action to
enforce a subpoena. In contrast to an application for an immunity order, which may be authorized
by a committee, only the full Senate by resolution may authorize an action to enforce a 103
subpoena. The Senate may not consider a resolution to direct the counsel to bring an action
unless the investigating committee reports the resolution by a majority vote. The statute specifies
the required contents of the committee report; among other matters, the committee must report on
the extent to which the subpoenaed party has complied with the subpoena, the objections or
privileges asserted by the witness, and the comparative effectiveness of a criminal and civil 104
proceeding. A significant limitation on the civil enforcement remedy is that it excludes from its
coverage actions against officers or employees of the federal government acting within their
official capacities, except where the refusal to comply is based on the assertion of a personal
privilege or objection and not on a governmental privilege or objection that has been authorized 105
by the executive branch. Its reach is limited to natural persons and to entities acting or 106
purporting to act under the color of state law.
(2) Advice to committees and officers of the Senate and other duties
The Ethics act details a number of advisory functions of the Office of Senate Legal Counsel.
Principal among these are the responsibility of advising Members, committees, and officers of the
Senate with respect to subpoenas or requests for the withdrawal of Senate documents, and the
responsibility of advising committees about their promulgation and implementation of rules and
procedures for congressional investigations. The office also provides advice about legal questions 107
that arise during the course of investigations.
The act also provides that the counsel shall perform such other duties consistent with the 108
nonpartisan purposes and limitations of Title VII as the Senate may direct. Thus, in 1980, the
office was used in the investigation relating to President Carter’s brother, Billy, and his
connection to Libya. The office worked under the direction of the chairman and vice-chairman of 109
the subcommittee charged with the conduct of that investigation. Members of the office have
also undertaken special assignments such as the Senate’s investigation of “Abscam” and other 110111
undercover activities, the impeachment proceedings of Judge Harry Claiborne, Judge Walter 112113
L. Nixon, Jr., and Judge Alcee L. Hastings Jr., and the confirmation hearings of Justice
Clarence E. Thomas. The office was called upon to assist in the Senate’s conduct of the
impeachment trial of President Clinton.
In addition, the counsel’s office provides information and advice to Members, officers, and
employees on a wide range of legal and administrative matters relating to Senate business. Unlike
103 2 U.S.C. § 288d and 28 U.S.C. § 1365.
104 2 U.S.C. § 288 d(c).
105 See 28 U.S.C. § 1365 (a).
107 2 U.S.C. § 288g(a)(5) and (6).
108 2 U.S. 288g(c).
109 See S.Rept. 1015, 96th Cong., 2nd sess. (1980).
110 See S.Rept. 682, 97th Cong., 2nd sess. (1982).
111 See S.Rept. 812, 99th Cong., 2nd sess. (1986).
112 See S.Rept. 164, 101st Cong., 1st sess. (1989).
113 See S.Rept. 156, 101st Cong., 1st sess. (1989).
the House practice, the Senate Legal Counsel plays no formal role in the review and issuance of
subpoenas. However, since it may become involved in civil enforcement proceedings, it has
welcomed the opportunity to review proposed subpoenas for form and substance prior to their
issuance by committees. The Office of Senate Legal Counsel can be reached at 224-4435.
The House Office of General Counsel has evolved since the mid-1970s, from its original role as a
legal advisor to the Clerk of the House on a range of matters that fell within the jurisdiction of the rd
Clerk’s office, to that of counsel for the institution. At the beginning of the 103 Congress, it was
made a separate House office, reporting directly to the Speaker, charged with the responsibility 114
“of providing legal assistance and representation to the House.” While the function and role of
the House Office of General Counsel and Senate Legal Counsel with respect to oversight
assistance to committees and protection of institutional prerogatives are similar, there are some
differences that will be noted below.
The General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, and other attorneys of the office are appointed by 115
the Speaker and serve at his pleasure. The office “function[s] pursuant to the direction of the
Speaker, who shall consult with a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group,” which consists of the 116
Speaker himself, the Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Leader, and Minority Whip.
The office has statutory authority to appear before state or federal courts in the course of
performing its functions. 2 U.S.C. § 130f. The office may appear as amicus curiae on behalf of
the Speaker and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group in litigation involving the institutional 117
interests of the House. Where authorized by statute or resolution, the office may represent the 118
House itself in judicial proceedings. The office also represents House officers in litigation 119
affecting the institutional interests and prerogatives of the House. Finally, the office defends the
House, its committees, officers, and employees in civil litigation relating to their official
responsibilities, or when they have been subpoenaed to testify or to produce House records (see
House Rule VIII).
Unlike Senate committees, House committees may only issue subpoenas under the seal of the
Clerk of the House. In practice, committees often work closely with the Office of General
Counsel in drafting subpoenas and every subpoena issued by a committee is reviewed by the
office for substance and form. Committees frequently seek the advice and assistance of the Office
of General Counsel in dealing with various asserted constitutional, statutory, and common-law
114 See H. Res. 5, Sec. 11, 139 Cong. Rec. H5 (daily ed. Jan. 5, 1993).
115 House Rule II(8) of the Rules of the 108th Congress.
117 See. e.g., Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 124 S. Ct. 2301 (2004); Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811
(1997); Beverly Enterprises, Inc. v. Trump, 182 F.3d 183 (3d Cir. 1999); United States v. McDade, 28 F.3d 283 (3d Cir.
1994); Cano v. Davis, No. 01-8477 (C.D. Cal. March 28, 2002) (unpublished order granting motions to quash
subpoenas to Members).
118 See. e.g., Department of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316 (1999) (litigation in which the
General Counsel was authorized by statute, P.L. 105-119, § 209(b) (1997), to represent the House in a challenge to the
legality of the Department of Commerce’s plan to use statistical sampling in the 2000 census).
119 See. e.g., Adams v. Clinton, 90 F. Supp. 2d 35, aff’d sub nom. Alexander v. Mineta, 531 U.S. 940, 941 (2000);
Schaffer v. Clinton, 240 F.3d 878 (10th Cir. 2001); Skaggs v. Carle, 110 F.3d 831 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Newdow v. Eagen,
No. 02-01704 (D.D.C. filed March 24, 2004).
privileges,120 in responding to executive agencies and officials that resist congressional 121
oversight, and in navigating the statutory process for obtaining a contempt citation with respect 122
to a recalcitrant witness.
The Office of General Counsel represents the interests of House committees in judicial
proceedings in a variety of circumstances. The office represents committees in federal court on
applications for immunity orders pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 6005; appears as amicus curiae in cases 123
affecting House committee investigations; defends against attempts to obtain direct or indirect 124
judicial interference with congressional subpoenas or other investigatory authority; represents
committees seeking to prevent compelled disclosure of non-public information relating to their 125
investigatory or other legislative activities; and appears in court on behalf of committees
seeking judicial assistance in obtaining access to documents or information such as documents
that are under seal or materials which may be protected by Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of 126
Like the Senate Legal Counsel’s office, the House General Counsel’s office also devotes a large
portion of its time to rendering informal advice to individual Members and committees. The
office can be reached at (202) 225-9700. Its website address is http://generalcounsel.house.gov/,
which is available only to House offices.
The Government Accountability Office, formerly called the General Accounting Office (GAO),
was established by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (31 U.S.C. § 702) as an independent
auditor of government agencies. Over the years, Congress has expanded GAO’s audit authority,
added new responsibilities and duties, and strengthened GAO’s ability to perform independently
of the executive branch. GAO is under the control and direction of the Comptroller General of the
United States, who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate for a
term of 15 years.
120 See. e.g., H.Rept. 105-797, In the Matter of Representative Jay Kim, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct,
105th Cong., 2nd sess. 84-85 (Oct. 8, 1998).
121 See. e.g., Hearing, “The Attorney General’s Refusal to Provide Congressional Access to ‘Privileged’ Inslaw
Documents,” before the Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law, Committee on the Judiciary, 101st Cong., nd
2 sess. 77-104 (Dec. 5, 1990).
122 See. e.g., 132 Cong Rec. 3036-38 (1986) (floor consideration of contempt citation against two witnesses who
refused to testify concerning alleged assistance provided to former Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his
123 See. e.g., Dornan v. Sanchez, 978 F. Supp. 1315, 1317 n.1 (C.D. Cal. 1997).
124 See. e.g., Harris v. Board of Governors, 938 F.2d 720 (7th Cir. 1991); United States v. United States House of
Representatives, 556 F. Sup.. 150 (D.D.C. 1983).
125 See. e.g., Pentagen Technologies Int’l, Ltd. v. Committee on Appropriations of the United States House of
Representatives, 20 F. Supp. 2d 41 (D.D.C. 1998), aff’d 194 F.3d 174 (D.C. Cir. 1998); United States v. McDade, No.
96-1508 (3d Cir. July 12, 1996) (unpublished order quashing subpoena to the Committee on Standards of Official
Conduct); Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. Williams, 62 F.3d 408 (D.C. Cir. 1995); United States v. Arthur
Andersen, LLP, No. 02-121 (S.D. Tex. filed May 15, 2002) (unpublished order quashing subpoena to the Committee on
Energy and Commerce).
126 See. e.g., In re Harrisburg Grand Jury, 638 F. Supp. 43 (M.D. Pa. 1986). Cf. United States v. Moussaoui, No. 01-
455-A, 2002 WL 1990900 (E.D. Va. Aug. 29, 2002) (order denying the “Expedited Motion of the United States for
Clarification Regarding the Applicability of the Protective Order for Unclassified But Sensitive Material and Local
Rule 57 to Information That May Be Made Public in Congressional Proceedings”).
GAO’s core values define the organization and its people. These core values are accountability,
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to requests from ranking minority members. To the extent possible, GAO also responds to
individual member requests. Other assignments are initiated pursuant to standing
commitments to congressional committees, and some reviews are specifically required by
law. Finally, some assignments are undertaken in accordance with GAO’s basic legislative
responsibilities. GAO staff are located in Washington and in offices across the United States.
Types of Questions GAO Answers
Is a federal program achieving the desired results, or are changes needed in government
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regulations, and are data furnished to Congress on the program accurate?
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a. Office of Special Investigations.
The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) conducts investigations for Congress and the
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abuse, ethics violations and conflicts of interest. Additionally, OSI performs security tests
and reviews to determine whether security vulnerabilities exist in federal systems and
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President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE).
b. Legal Services
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decision or opinion on questions involving the use of, and accountability for, public funds
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Information about GAO and the materials it produces can be obtained from its website at
The Office of Management and Budget, http://www.omb.gov, came into existence in 1970; its
predecessor agency, the Bureau of the Budget, dated back to 1921. Initially established as a unit
in the Treasury Department, since 1939 the budget agency has been a part of the Executive Office
of the President.
a. OMB is the President’s agent for the management and implementation of policy, including
the federal budget.
b. OMB’s major responsibilities include:
1. Assisting the President in the preparation of the budget and development of a fiscal
2. Supervising and controlling the administration of the budget, including transmittal to
Congress of proposals for deferrals and rescissions.
3. Keeping the President informed about agencies’ activities (proposed, initiated, and
completed), in order to coordinate efforts, expend appropriations economically, and
minimize overlap and duplication.
4. Administering the process of review of proposed and final agency files established by
Executive Order 12866.
5. Administering the process of review and approval of collections of information by
federal agencies and reducing the burden of agency information collection on the public
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
6. Overseeing the manner in which agencies disseminate information to the public
(including electronic dissemination); how agencies collect, maintain, and use statistics;
how agencies’ archives are maintained; how agencies develop systems for insuring
privacy, confidentiality, security, and the sharing of information collected by the
government; and how the government acquires and uses information technology,
pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
7. Studying and promoting better governmental management, including making
recommendations to agencies regarding their administrative organization and operations.
8. Helping the President by clearing and coordinating the advice of agencies regarding
legislative proposals and making recommendations about presidential action on
9. Assisting in the preparation, consideration, and clearance of executive orders and
10. Planning and developing information systems that provide the President with program
11. Establishing and overseeing implementation of financial management policies and
requirements for the federal government as required by the Chief Financial Officers Act
12. Assisting in development of regulatory reform proposals and programs for paperwork
reduction, and then the implementation of these initiatives.
13. Improving the economy and efficiency of the federal procurement process by providing
overall direction for procurement policies, regulations, procedures, and forms.
14. Establishing policies and methods that reduce fraud, waste, and abuse, and
coordinating the work of the inspectors general through the President’s Council on
Integrity and Efficiency and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency.
OMB is inevitably drawn into institutional and partisan struggles between the President and
Congress. Difficulties for Congress notwithstanding, OMB is the central clearinghouse for
executive agencies and is, therefore, a rich source of information for investigative and
Since enactment of the 1974 Budget Act, as amended, Congress has more budgetary information
than ever before. Extensive budgetary materials are also available from the executive branch.
Some of the major sources of budgetary information are available on and off Capitol Hill. They
include (1) the President and executive agencies (recall that under the Budget and Accounting Act
of 1921, the President presents annually a national budget to Congress); (2) the Congressional
Budget Office; (3) the House and Senate Budget Committees; (4) the House and Senate
Appropriations Committees; and (5) the House and Senate legislative committees. In addition, the
Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service prepare fiscal and
other relevant reports for the legislative branch.
Worth mention is that discretionary spending, the component of the budget that the
Appropriations Committees oversee through the appropriations process, accounts for about one-
third of federal spending. Other House and Senate committees, particularly Ways and Means and
Finance, oversee more than $1 trillion in spending through reauthorizations, direct spending
measures, and reconciliation legislation. In addition, Ways and Means and Finance oversee a
diverse set of programs, including tax collection, tax expenditures, and some user fees, through
the revenue process. The oversight activities of all of these committees is enhanced through the
use of the diverse range of budgetary information that is available to them.
1. Executive Branch Budget Products
Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005 contains the Budget Message of the
President and information on the President’s 2005 budget proposals by budget function.
Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005 contains
analyses that are designed to highlight specified subject areas or provide other significant
presentations of budget data that place the budget in perspective.
The Analytical Perspectives volume includes economic and accounting analyses; information on
Federal receipts and collections; analyses of federal spending; detailed information on Federal
borrowing and debt; the Budget Enforcement Act preview report; current services estimates; and
other technical presentations. It also includes information on the budget system and concepts and
a listing of the federal programs by agency and account.
Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005 provides data on
budget receipts, outlays, surpluses or deficits, federal debt, and federal employment covering an
extended time period—in most cases beginning in FY1940 or earlier and ending in FY2009.
These are much longer time periods than those covered by similar tables in other budget
documents. As much as possible, the data in this volume and all other historical data in the budget
documents have been made consistent with the concept and presentation used in the 2001 budget,
so the data series are comparable over time.
Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005—Appendix contains detailed
information on the various appropriations and funds that constitute the budget and is designed
primarily for the use of the Appropriations Committee. The Appendix contains more detailed
financial information on individual programs and appropriation accounts than any of the other
budget documents. It includes for each agency: the proposed text of appropriations language,
budget schedules for each account, new legislative proposals, explanations of the work to be
performed and the funds needed, and proposed general provisions applicable to the appropriations
of entire agencies or groups of agencies. Information is also provided on certain activities whose
outlays are not part of the budget totals. The Appendix is perhaps the most useful product in the
President’s initial budget submission for obtaining programmatic detail.
Automated Sources of Budget Information. The information contained in the above-listed
documents is available in electronic format from the following sources: (1) CD-ROM. The CD-
ROM contains all of the budget documents and software to support reading, printing, and
searching for documents. The CD-ROM also has many of the tables in the budget in spreadsheet
format. (2) Internet. All budget documents, including documents that are released at a future date,
are to be available for downloading in several formats from the Internet. To access documents
through the website, use the following address: http://www.gpo.gov/usbudget.
Several other points about the President’s budget and executive agency budget products are worth
noting. First, the President’s budgetary communications to Congress continue after the
January/February submission and usually include a series of budget amendments and
supplementals, the Mid-Session Review, Statements of Administration Policy (SAPs) on
legislation, and even revised budgets on occasion. Second, most of these additional
communications are issued as House documents and are available on the Web from GPO Access
or the OMB homepage (in the case of SAPs). Third, the initial budget products often do not
provide sufficient information on the President’s budgetary recommendations to enable
committees to begin developing legislation, and that further budgetary information is provided in
the “justification” materials (see below) and the later submission of legislative proposals. Finally,
the internal executive papers (such as agency budget submissions to OMB) often are not made
available to Congress.
2. Some Other Sources of Useful Budgetary Information
a. Committees on Appropriations. The subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations
Committees hold extensive hearings on the fiscal year appropriations requests of federal
departments and agencies. The Appropriations Subcommittees typically print agency justification
material with the hearing record of the federal officials concerning these requests.
Each federal department or agency submits justification material to the Committees on
Appropriations. Their submissions can run from several hundreds of pages to over two thousand
b. Budget Committees. House and Senate Budget Committees, in preparing to report the annual
concurrent budget resolution, conduct hearings on overall federal budget policy. These hearings
and other fiscal analyses made by these panels address various aspects of federal programs and
funding levels which can be useful sources of information.
c. Other Committees. To assist the Budget Committees in developing the concurrent budget
resolution, other committees are required to prepare “views and estimates” of programs in their
jurisdiction. Committee views and estimates, usually packaged together and issued as a
committee print, also may be a useful source of detailed budget data.
d. Internal Agency Studies and Budget Reviews. These agency studies and reviews are often
conducted in support of budget formulation and can yield useful information about individual
programs. The budgeting documents, evaluations, and priority rankings of individual agency
programs can provide insights into executive branch views of the importance of individual
Committees and Members can acquire useful information about executive branch programs and
performance from the beneficiaries of those programs, private organizations, and interest groups.
An effective oversight device, for example, is to ask beneficiaries how well federal programs and
services are working. A variety of methods might be employed to solicit the views of those on the
receiving end of federal programs and services, including investigations and hearings, field and
on-site meetings, surveys and opinion polls, and websites. The results of such efforts can assist
committees in obtaining policy-relevant information about program performance and in
evaluating the problems people might be having with federal administrators and agencies.
There are numerous think tanks, universities, or associations, for instance, that periodically
conduct studies of public policy issues and advise Members and others on how well federal
agencies and programs are working. Similarly, numerous interest groups are active in monitoring
areas such as civil rights, education, or health and they are not reluctant to point out alleged
bureaucratic failings to committees and Members. Some of these groups may also assist
committees and Members in bringing about improvements in agencies and programs.
There are also scores of social, political, scientific, environmental, and humanitarian
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) located around the world. Working with governments,
corporations, foundations, and other entities are such NGOs as Greeenpeace, Amnesty
International, the World Resources Institute, the Red Cross, and the Save the Children Fund.
Many NGOs might provide valuable assistance to congressional overseers because they “do legal,
scientific, technical, and policy analysis; provide services; shape, implement, monitor, and 127
enforce national and international commitments; and change institutions and norms.”
Bimber, Bruce. “Information as a Factor in Congressional Politics,” Legislative Studies Quarterly,
v. XVI, November 1991: 585-605.
Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government. Science, Technology, and
Congress: Analysis and Advice from the Congressional Support Agencies. Washington: The
Carnegie Commission, 1991. 70p.
Chubb, John E. Interest Groups and the Bureaucracy. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press,
Gilmour, Robert S. and Alexis A. Halley, eds. Who Makes Public Policy? Chatham, N.J.:
Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1994. 390p. JK585.W48
Heinz, John P., et al. The Hollow Core: Private Interests in National Policy Making. Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993. 450p.
U.S. Congress. Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. Support Agencies. Hearing rdst
before the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. 103 Congress, 1 session, June
Congressional Research Service http://www.crs.gov
Carney, Eliza Newlin. “Billington’s Book Wars,” National Journal, v. 24, March 21, 1992: 695-
Cole, John Y. “Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library,” Library of Congress Bulletin,
v. 50, April 8, 1991: 124-130.
127 Jim Bencivenga, “Critical Mass,” Christian Science Monitor, February 3, 2000, p. 15. Also see “NGOs,” The
Economist, January 29, 2000, pp. 25-27.
Dalrymple, Helen. “Congressional Research Service: Think Tank, Policy Consultant and
Information Factory,” Library of Congress Information Bulletin, v. 49, September 24, 1990:
Gude, Gilbert. “Congressional Research Service: the Research and Information Arm of
Congress,” Government Information Quarterly, v. 2, January 1985: 5-11.
Robinson, William H. “The Congressional Research Service: Policy Consultant, Think Tank, and
Information Factory,” In Organizations for Policy Analysis: Helping Government Think.
edited by Carol H. Weiss. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1992, pp. 181-200.
Government Accountability Office (formerly the General Accounting Office)
Abikoff, Kevin T. “The Role of the Comptroller General in Light of Bowsher v. Synar,”
Columbia Law Review, v. 87, November 1987: 1539-1563.
CRS Report RL30349, GAO: Government Accountability Office and General Accounting Office,
by Frederick M. Kaiser, updated regularly.
——. GAO Versus the CIA: Uphill Battles Against an Overpowering Force. International Journal
of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, v. 15, 2002: 330-389.
Mosher, Frederick C. A Tale of Two Agencies: A Comparative Analysis of the General
Accounting Office and the Office of Management and Budget. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana
State University Press, 1984. 219 p.
Rozell, Mark J. “The Role of General Accounting Office Evaluation in the Post Reform
Congress: The Case of General Revenue Sharing,” International Journal of Public
Administration, v. 7, September 1985: 267-290.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on the Budget. Addressing Government Waste, Fraud, and thst
Abuse. 108 Congress, 1 session. Washington: GPO, 2003. 421 p.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. The Roles, Mission and Operation
of the U.S. General Accounting Office. Report Prepared by the National Academy of Public nd
Administration. Senate Print 103-87, 103 Congress, 2 session. Washington: GPO, 1994. 106
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Rules. Congressional Oversight: A “How-To” Series of thst
Workshops. Committee Print. 106 Congress, 1 session. Washington: GPO, 2000. See pp.
U.S. General Accounting Office. GAO History, 1921-1991, by Roger R. Trask. GAO Report OP-
U.S. Government Accountability Office. Strategic Plan http://www.GAO.GOV.
Congressional Budget Office http://www.cbo.gov
Howard, James A. “Government Economic Projections: A Comparison Between CBO and
OMB,” Public Budgeting & Finance, v. 7, Autumn 1987: 14-25.
CRS Report 98-720, Manual on the Federal Budget Process, by Robert Keith and Allen Schick.
GOV, August 28, 1998.
——CRS Report RL31880, Congressional Budget Office: Appointment and Tenure of the
Director and Deputy Director, by Robert Keith and Mary Frances Bley, October 29, 2003.
Schick, Allen. Congress and Money. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 1980. 604p.
Twogood, R. Philip. “Reconciling Politics and Budget Analysis: The Case of the Congressional
Budget Office,” Public Budgeting and Financial Management, v. 3, no. 1, 1991: 65-87.
Offices of Senate Legal Counsel and House General Counsel
Salokar, Rebecca Mae. “Legal Counsel for Congress: Protecting Institutional Interests,” Congress
and the Presidency. vol. 20, No. 2, Autumn 1993: 131-155.
Tiefer, Charles. “The Senate and House Counsel Offices: Dilemmas of Representing in Court the
Institutional Congressional Client,” Law and Contemporary Problems, v. 61, Spring 1998:
1. In complying with this Subpoena, you are required to produce all responsive documents that
are in your possession, custody, or control, whether held by you or your past or present agents,
employees, and representatives acting on your behalf. You are also required to produce
documents that you have a legal right to obtain, documents that you have a right to copy or
have access to, and documents that you have placed in the temporary possession, custody, or
control of any third party. No records, documents, data or information called for by this request
shall be destroyed, modified, removed or otherwise made inaccessible to the Committee.
2. In the event that any entity, organization or individual denoted in this subpoena has been, or is
also known by any other name than that herein denoted, the subpoena shall be read to also
include them under that alternative identification.
3. Each document produced shall be produced in a form that renders the document susceptible of
4. Documents produced in response to this subpoena shall be produced together with copies of
file labels, dividers or identifying markers with which they were associated when this subpoena
was served. Also identify to which paragraph from the subpoena that such documents are
5. It shall not be a basis for refusal to produce documents that any other person or entity also
possesses non-identical or identical copies of the same document.
6. If any of the subpoenaed information is available in machine-readable form (such as punch
cards, paper or magnetic tapes, drums, disks, or core storage), state the form in which it is
available and provide sufficient detail to allow the information to be copied to a readable
format. If the information requested is stored in a computer, indicate whether you have an
existing program that will print the records in a readable form.
7. If the subpoena cannot be complied with in full, it shall be complied with to the extent
possible, which shall include an explanation of why full compliance is not possible.
8. In the event that a document is withheld on the basis of privilege, provide the following
information concerning any such document: (a) the privilege asserted; (b) the type of
document; (c) the general subject matter; (d) the date, author and addressee; and (e) the
relationship of the author and addressee to each other.
or control, identify the document (stating its date, author, subject and recipients) and explain
the circumstances by which the document ceased to be in your possession, or control.
10. If a date set forth in this subpoena referring to a communication, meeting, or other event is
inaccurate, but the actual date is known to you or is otherwise apparent from the context of the
request, you should produce all documents which would be responsive as if the date were
11. Other than subpoena questions directed at the activities of specified entities or persons, to the
extent that information contained in documents sought by this subpoena may require
production of donor lists, or information otherwise enabling the re-creation of donor lists,
such identifying information may be redacted.
13. This request is continuing in nature. Any record, document, compilation of data or
information, not produced because it has not been located or discovered by the return date,
shall be produced immediately upon location or discovery subsequent thereto.
15. Two sets of documents shall be delivered, one set for the Majority Staff and one set for the
Minority Staff. When documents are produced to the Subcommittee, production sets shall be
delivered to the Majority Staff in Room B346 Rayburn House Office Building and the
Minority Staff in Room 2101 Rayburn House Office Building.
regardless of how recorded, and whether original or copy, including, but not limited to, the
following: memoranda, reports, expense reports, books, manuals, instructions, financial
reports, working papers, records notes, letters, notices, confirmations, telegrams, receipts,
appraisals, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, prospectuses, interoffice and intra office
communications, electronic mail (E-mail), contracts, cables, notations of any type of
conversation, telephone call, meeting or other communication, bulletins, printed matter,
computer printouts, teletypes, invoices, transcripts, diaries, analyses, returns, summaries,
minutes, bills, accounts, estimates, projections, comparisons, messages, correspondence, press
releases, circulars, financial statements, reviews, opinions, offers, studies and investigations,
questionnaires and surveys, and work sheets (and all drafts, preliminary versions, alterations,
modifications, revisions, changes, and amendments of any of the foregoing, as well as any
attachments or appendices thereto), and graphic or oral records or representations of any kind
(including without limitation, photographs, charts, graphs, microfiche, microfilm, videotape,
recordings and motion pictures), and electronic, mechanical, and electric records or
representations of any kind (including, without limitation, tapes, cassettes, discs, and
recordings) and other written, printed, typed, or other graphic or recorded matter of any kind or
nature, however produced or reproduced, and whether preserved in writing, film, tape, disc, or
videotape. A documents bearing any notation not a part of the original text is to be considered a
separate document. A draft or non-identical copy is a separate document within the meaning of
2. The term “communication” means each manner or means of disclosure or exchange of
information, regardless of means utilized, whether oral, electronic, by document or otherwise,
and whether face to face, in a meeting, by telephone, mail, telexes, discussions, releases,
personal delivery, or otherwise.
3. The terms “and” and “or” shall be construed broadly and either conjunctively or disjunctively
to bring within the scope of this subpoena any information which might otherwise be construed
to be outside its scope. The singular includes plural number, and vice versa. The masculine
includes the feminine and neuter genders.
4. The term “White House” refers to the Executive Office of the President and all of its units
including, without limitation, the Office of Administration, the White House Office, the Office
of the Vice President, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management
and Budget, the United States Trade Representative, the Office of Public Liaison, the Office of
Correspondence, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Political Affairs, the
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for White House Operations, the Domestic Policy Council,
the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office
of Legislative Affairs, Media Affairs, the National Economic Council, the Office of Policy
Development, the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of
the Press Secretary, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Council of Economic Advisors,
the Council on Environmental Quality, the Executive Residence, the President’s Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board, the National Security Council, the Office of National Drug
Control, and the Office of Policy Development.
March 10, 1998
Custodian of Documents
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Washington, D.C. 20001
1. All organizational charts and personnel rosters for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
(“Teamsters” or “IBT”), including the DRIVE PAC, in effect during calendar years 1991
2. All IBT operating, finance, and administrative manuals in effect during calendar years 1991
through 1997, including, but not limited to those that set forth (1) operating policies, practices,
and procedures; (2) internal financial practices and reporting requirements; and (3)
authorization, approval, and review responsibilities.
3. All annual audit reports of the IBT for the years 1991 through 1996 performed by the auditing
firm of Grant Thornton.
4. All IBT annual reports to its membership and the public for years 1991 through 1997, including
copies of IBT annual audited financial statements certified to by independent public
5. All books and records showing receipts and expenditures, assets and liabilities, profits and
losses, and all other records used for recording the financial affairs of the IBT including,
journals (or other books of original entry) and ledgers including cash receipts journals, cash
disbursements journals, revenue journals, general journals, subledgers, and workpapers
reflecting accounting entries.
7. All minutes of the General Board, Executive Board, Executive Council, and all Standing
Committees, including any internal ethics committees formed to investigate misconduct and
corruption, and all handouts and reports prepared and produced at each Committee meeting.
donation, expenditure, outlay, in-kind assistance, transfer, loan, or grant (from DRIVE, DRIVE
E&L fund, or IBT general treasury) to any of the following entities/organizations:
a. Citizen Action
b. Campaign for a Responsible Congress
c. Project Vote
d. National Council of Senior Citizens
e. Vote Now ‘96
h. Democratic National Committee
i. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (“DSCC”)
j. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”)
k. State Democratic Parties
1. Clinton-Gore ‘96
9. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about any of the following
indivi duals/enti ti es:
a. Teamsters for a Corruption Free Union
b. Teamsters for a Democratic Union
c. Concerned Teamsters 2000
d. Martin Davis
e. Michael Ansara
f. Jere Nash
g. Share Group
h. November Group
i. Terrence McAuliffe
j. Charles Blitz
k. New Party
1. James P. Hoffa Campaign
m. Delancy Printing
n. Axis Enterprises
o. Barbara Arnold
p. Peter McGourty
q. Charles McDonald
r. Theodore Kheel
10. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information on about, communications
between the Teamsters and the White House regarding any of the following issues:
a. United Parcel Service Strike
b. Diamond Walnut Company Strike
c. Pony Express Company organizing efforts
d. Davis Bacon Act
e. NAFTA Border Crossings
f. Ron Carey reelection campaign
g. IBT support to 1996 federal election campaigns.
i. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, communications
between the Teamsters and the Federal Election Commission.
12. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, communications
between the Teamsters and the Democratic National Committee, DSCC, or DCCC.
13. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, communications
between the Teamsters and the Clinton-Gore ‘96 Campaign Committee.
14. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, policies and
procedures in effect during 1996 regarding the approval of expenditures from the IBT general
treasury, DRIVE E&L fund, and DRIVE PAC.
15. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about the retention by the
IBT of the law firm Covington & Burling and/or Charles Ruff.
16. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about work for the IBT
performed by the firm Palladino & Sutherland and/or Jack Palladino.
17. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about work for the IBT
performed by Ace Investigations and/or Guerrieri, Edmund, and James.
18. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about IBT involvement in
the 1995-1996 Oregon Senate race (Ron Wyden vs. Gordon Smith).
19. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, Ron Carey’s
campaign for reelection as general president of the Teamsters.
and operation of the 1996 IBT Convention.
a. Trish Hoppey
b. John Latz
c. any individual with the last name of “Golovner”.
d. Convention Management Group.
22. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about the Household Finance
23. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, any “affinity credit
card” program or other credit card program sponsored by or participated in by the IBT.
24. A list of all bank accounts held by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters including the
name of the bank, account number, and bank address.
25. All documents referring or relating to, or containing information about, payments made by the
IBT to any official or employee of the Independent Review Board.
26. Unless otherwise indicated, the time period covered by this subpoena is between January
THE WHITE HOUSE
November 4, 1982
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND
SUBJECT: Procedures Governing Responses to
Congressional Request for Information
The policy of this administration is to comply with Congressional Requests for information
to the fullest extent consistent with the constitutional and statutory obligations of the
Executive Branch. While this Administration, like its predecessors, has an obligation to
protect the confidentiality of some communications, executive privilege will be asserted only
in the most compelling circumstances, and only after careful review demonstrates that
assertion of the privilege is necessary. Historically, good faith negotiations between
Congress and the executive branch has minimized the need for invoking executive privilege,
and this tradition of accommodation should continue as the primary means of resolving
conflicts between the Branches. To ensure that every reasonable accommodation is made to
the needs of Congress, executive privilege shall not be invoked without specific Presidential
The Supreme Court has held that the Executive Branch may occasionally find it necessary
and proper to preserve the confidentiality of national security secrets, deliberative
communications that form a part of the decision-making process, or other information
important to the discharge of the Executive Branch’s constitutional responsibilities.
Legitimate and appropriate claims of privilege should not thoughtlessly be waived.
However, to ensure that this Administration acts responsibly and consistently in the exercise
of its duties, with due regard for the responsibilities and prerogatives of Congress, the
following procedures shall be followed whenever Congressional requests for information
raise concerns regarding the confidentiality of the information sought:
1. Congressional requests for information shall be complied with as promptly and as fully as
possible, unless it is determined that compliance raises a substantial question of executive
privilege. A “substantial question of executive privilege” exists if disclosure of the
information requested might significantly impair the national security (including the
conduct of foreign relations), the deliberative processes of the Executive Branch or other
aspects of the performance of the Executive Branch’s constitutional duties.
2. If the head of an executive department or agency (“Department Head”) believes, after
consultation with department counsel, that compliance with a Congressional request for
information raises a substantial question of executive privilege, he shall promptly notify
and consult with the Attorney General through the Assistant Attorney General for the
Office of Legal Counsel, and shall also promptly notify and consult with the Counsel to
the President. If the information requested of a department or agency derives in whole or
in part or from information received from another department or agency, the latter entity
shall also be consulted as to whether disclosure of the information raises a substantial
question of executive privilege.
3. Every effort shall be made to comply with the Congressional request in a manner
consistent with the legitimate needs of the Executive Branch. The Department Head, the
Attorney “General and the Counsel to the President may, in the exercise of their
discretion in the circumstances, determine that executive privilege shall not be invoked
and release the requested information.
after consultation, that the circumstances justify invocation of executive privilege, the
issue shall be presented to the President by the Counsel to the President, who will
advise the Department Head and the Attorney General of the President’s decision.
5. Pending a final Presidential decision on the matter, the Department Head shall request
the Congressional body to hod its request for the information in abeyance. The
Department Head shall expressly indicate that the purpose of this request is to protect
the privilege pending a Presidential decision, claim of privilege.
6. If the President decides to invoke executive privilege, the Department Head shall advise
the requesting Congressional body that the claim of executive privilege is being made
with the specific approval of the President.
Any questions concerning these procedures or related matters should be addressed to the
Attorney General, through the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel,
and to the Counsel to the President.
THE WHITE HOUSE
September 28, 1994
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT AND AGENCY GENERAL
FROM: LLOYD N. CUTLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT
SUBJECT: Congressional Requests to Departments and Agencies for Documents Protected
by Executive Privilege
The policy of this Administration is to comply with congressional requests for information
to the fullest extent consistent with the constitutional and statutory obligations of the
Executive Branch. While this Administration, like its predecessors, has an obligation to
protect the confidentiality of core communications, executive privilege will be asserted only
after careful review demonstrates that assertion of the privilege is necessary to protect
Executive Branch prerogatives.
The doctrine of executive privilege protects the confidentiality of deliberations within the
White House, including its policy councils, as well as communications between the White
House and executive departments and agencies. Executive privilege applies to written and
oral communications between and among the White House, its policy councils and
Executive Branch agencies, as well as to documents that describe or prepares for such
communications (e.g. “talking points”). This has been the view expressed by all recent
White House Counsels. In circumstances involving communications relating to
investigations of personal wrongdoing by government officials, it is our practice not to
assert executive privilege, either, in judicial proceedings or in congressional investigations
and hearings. Executive privilege must always be weighed against other competing
governmental interests, including the judicial need to obtain relevant evidence, especially in
criminal proceedings, and the congressional need to make factual findings for legislative
and oversight purposes.
In the last resort, this balancing is usually conducted by the courts. However, when
executive privilege is asserted against a congressional request for documents, the courts
usually decline to intervene until after the other two branches have exhausted the possibility
of working out a satisfactory accommodation. It is our policy to work out such an
accommodation whenever we can, without unduly interfering with the President’s need to
conduct frank exchange of views with his principal advisors.
Historically, good faith negotiations between Congress and the Executive Branch have
minimized the need for invoking executive privilege.
Executive privilege belongs to the President, not individual departments or agencies. It is
essential that all requests to departments and agencies for information of the type described
above be referred to the White House Counsel before any information is furnished.
Departments and agencies receiving such request should therefore follow the procedures set
forth below, designed to ensure that this Administration acts responsibly and consistently
with respect to executive privilege issues, with due regard for the responsibilities and
prerogatives of Congress:
First, any document created in the White House, including a White House policy
council, or in a department or agency, that contains the deliberations of, or advice to or
from, the White House, should be presumptively treated as protected by executive
privilege. This is so regardless of the document’s location at the time of the request or
whether it originated in the White House or in a department or agency.
Second, a department or agency receiving a request for any such document should
promptly notify the White House Counsel’s Office, and direct any inquiries regarding
such a document to the White House Counsel’s Office.
Third, the White House Counsel’s Office, working together with the department or
agency (and, where appropriate, the Department of Justice), will discuss the request
with appropriate congressional representatives to determine whether a mutually
satisfactory recommendation is available.
Fourth, if efforts to reach a mutually satisfactory accommodation are unsuccessful, and
if release of the document would pass a substantial question of executive privilege, the
Counsel to the President will consult with the Department of Justice and other affected
agencies to determine whether to recommend that the President invoke the privilege.
We believe this policy will facilitate the resolution of issues relating to disclosures to
Congress and maximize the opportunity for reaching mutually satisfactory accommodations
with Congress. We will of course try to cooperate with reasonable congressional requests for
information in ways that preserve the President’s ability to exchange frank advice with his
immediate staff and the heads of the executive departments and agencies.
Oversight: A Key Congressional Function. Former Representative Lee Hamilton delivered the
keynote address to a 1999 series of CRS programs examining various aspects of congressional
oversight. In this program, Mr. Hamilton emphasizes the importance of traditional oversight and
reviews factors that contribute to successful oversight.
Program Length: 60 minutes. Product No.: MM70003.
The Constitutional Context of Oversight. Michael Stern, senior counsel with the House
General Counsel’s Office, and Michael Davidson, former Senate Legal Counsel, discuss the
constitutional context of oversight. In addition, the two attorneys address a variety of oversight
topics, including congressional investigations. Taped as part of a 1999 series of CRS programs
examining various aspects of congressional oversight.
Program Length: 60 minutes. Product No.: MM70004.
The “Rules & Tools” of Oversight. This program focuses on the formal institutional rules that
committees must follow to insure the legitimacy and fairness of oversight proceedings. The
nature of the formidable powers of inquiry available to congressional committees and the
practicalities of their effective utilization are also explored. Taped as part of a 1999 series of CRS
programs examining various aspects of congressional oversight.
Program Length: 60 minutes. Product No.: MM70005.
Sources of Oversight Assistance. This session focuses on where congressional committees can
obtain assistance in conducting oversight. Especially relevant are inspectors general, chief
financial officers, and Congress’s own support agencies, the Congressional Budget Office,
Congressional Research Service, and Government Accountability Office. Taped as part of a 1999
series of CRS programs examining various aspect of congressional oversight.
Program Length: 46 minutes. Product No.: MM70006.
Fiscal Oversight: “Follow the Money.” This seminar examines congressional oversight of fiscal
and budgetary activities, focusing on the role of the House and Senate Appropriations
Committees in the annual budget cycle and key support activities of the Congressional Budget
Office to Congress on budgetary matters generally. Taped as part of a 1999 series of CRS
programs examining various aspects of congressional oversight.
Program Length: 45 minutes. Product No.: MM70007.
Outside Actors in the Oversight Process. This program addresses how non-congressional
individuals can assist in the investigative process and in monitoring executive branch
performance. The panel includes a journalist, members of public and private interest groups, and
a former counsel with the House Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations. Taped as part of a 1999 series of CRS programs examining various aspects of
Program Length: 50 minutes. Product No.: MM70008.
Preparing for an Oversight Investigation. This program probes the “ins and outs” of how to
prepare for Congressional Investigations from the perspective of both the investigator and those
being investigated Taped as part of a 1999 series of CRS programs examining various aspects of
Program Length: 59:50. Product No.: MM70009.
Congress, the President, the Courts, and the Separation of Powers. Product No.: MM70097.
VHS copies of CRS video programs are available on loan to congressional offices. The
soundtracks of many television programs are also available on audio cassettes. For the schedule
of CRS Programs on Channel 6 of the House and Channel 5 of the Senate, call 7-7009. For
further information about any of these programs, please call 7-7547.
Frederick M. Kaiser Morton Rosenberg
Specialist in American National Government Specialist in American Public Law
email@example.com, 7-8682 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7480
Walter J. Oleszek Todd B. Tatelman
Senior Specialist in American National Government Legislative Attorney
email@example.com, 7-7854 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-4697
T. J. Halstead