Archive for the ‘Oversight’ Category


Oversight: Overlooked or Unhinged?

August 31, 2012

Reposted from bureauphile.

For the past thirty years, students of American government have leaned hard on a metaphor contrasting “police patrol” and “fire alarm” oversight. It’s an interesting and useful idea, but basically unsupported by careful empirical work. My esteemed colleague David C.W. Parker (who blogs about Montana politics here) and I have looked the partisan dimensions of congressional oversight in a couple academic articles – a 2009 article here published in Legislative Studies Quarterly and a forthcoming article in Political Research Quarterly. This summer we published a short essay, “Oversight: Overlooked or Unhinged?” in Extension of Remarks, the newsletter of the Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association. It’s basically an effort to work through the critique of the “fire alarm” metaphor with an eye on current events. Did you miss it? Here it is again.



June 21, 2012

Check it out.






Nelson and Proxmire

May 1, 2012

Wisconsin Senators Nelson (1963-1981) and Proxmire (1957-1989)


Elmer Staats

July 27, 2011

Former GAO Comptroller General Elmer Staats, on the left above in 1974 inspecting construction of the Judiciary Square Metro entrance, passed away last weekend at the age of 97.



December 20, 2010

GAO building detail


Chicago (our annual spring pilgrimage)

April 27, 2010

Back from our annual spring pilgrimage to Chicago. We stayed in Hyde Park with Rachel’s brother Ross and his wife Meera.  I attended the MPSA conference  was a discussant on for a couple panels “Campaigning to Governing” and (the clumsily titled) “Bureaucratic Leadership Transition and Agency Performance.”

Patrick Roberts presented a paper he and I are writing our CPAP colleague Sang Ok Choi currently titled, “Guarding the Guardians: Oversight Appointees and the Search for Accountability in U.S. Federal Agencies.” It’s a paper looks that the historical development and problem of vacancies among president-appointed, Senate-confirmed appointees in three positions: inspectors general (IGs), chief financial officers (CFOs), and general counsels (GCs).

Dave Parker and I also presented a paper we’re co-autoring – a second – on congressional committee investigtions. This one, “Rooting Out Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: House Committee Investigations, 1947-2004,” looks at investigative hearings across committees and chairmen.

Before leaving on Sunday, guided by Ross’s phone, we caught a couple Southside buses to the Hull House Museum, which consists of only the original house and one or two other structures, the bulk of the buildings that made up the historical settlement house have been replaced by the UIC student center. Anyway, the small museum on the house’s first floor was neat. Meera’s photo of a few of the children’s cubbies displayed in the museum really evokes the spirit of the place:


Transparency Talks: Louis Fisher (10/20)

October 15, 2009

On October 20th at 5:30pm, Dr. Louis Fisher, Specialist in Constitutional Law at the Law Library of the Library of Congress, will join us in Alexandria for the first in a series of “Transparency Talks” discussions addressing the role of transparency in governments and markets. Dr. Fisher is the author of 19 books , including The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America’s Freedoms (2008), In the Name of National Security: Unchecked Presidential Power and the Reynolds Case (2006), Presidential War Power (2d ed. 2004), American Constitutional Law (with Katy J. Harriger, 8th ed. 2009), Constitutional Conflicts between Congress and the Presidency (5th ed. 2005), and Political Dynamics of Constitutional Law (with Neal Devins, 4th ed. 2006).

Dr. Fisher will discuss the role of secrecy in presidential power and his recent testimony before the Crime Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary on the “The Executive Accountability Act of 2009” (testimony available here:

Time: Reception – 5:00-5:30, Discussion – 5:30-6:30

Location: 1021 Prince Street, 2nd Floor Common Area

Coffee and donuts will be served prior to the discussion.

We will link by Polycom to Thomas Conner House in Blacksburg.

The Transparency Talks series is being coordinated by SPIA faculty members Matt Dull (CPAP) and Giselle Datz (GIA) to explore the dimensions of transparency as a reform imperative across a range of governmental and market settings. To learn more about the series – or to receive updates about future Transparency Talks, email: