Taking Oversight To The Next Level: A Hands-On Workshop for Committee Staff

Aug 24, 2004


Dr. Jerry Ellig
Senior Research Fellow
Mercatus Center at George Mason University 

Eileen Norcross
Research Fellow, Government Accountability Project
Mercatus Center at George Mason University

One of the most important, if less appreciated, functions of the Congress is its role in the oversight of federal agencies.  As a guardian of the public interest, Congress must regularly monitor and assess bureaucratic behavior and performance.  Active and proper oversight of agencies not only improves agency performance, it assures constituents that their tax dollars are being used to provide the greatest possible public benefit.

While there are many criteria by which Congress might gauge an agency's performance, it is often difficult to know which measures are more meaningful than others.  What information should Congress rely upon when assessing the "value" of an agency's activities?  What tools are available to policymakers as they attempt to measure performance and effectiveness?

In this 2 ½ hour workshop, Mercatus Center scholars will work directly with congressional and agency staff on a specific policy issue - literacy - to view it through an appropriations, budget, and oversight lens. By analyzing government data and agency performance reports, participants will compare multiple federal programs aimed at improving literacy and assess the relative public benefit of each activity.  Using a step-by-step process, attendees will leave with the ability to apply similar scrutiny methods to other federal programs and activities of interest.