Government without Passing Laws: Congress' Nonstatutory Techniques for Appropriations Control

By Michael W. Kirst | Go to book overview
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VI. Evaluation

At the outset of this study, three normative standards for the "proper" role of the appropriations committee were derived. Any evaluation of nonstatutory devices depends on whether extralegal controls enable the appropriations committees to better fulfill their function or whether they allow a type of control that is contrary to this proper role. Accordingly, nonstatutory techniques will be evaluated with respect to the three normative standards: appropriations control of broad policy, appropriations supervision of administrative management, and entire House review.


NONSTRATUTORY CONROLS AND SUBSTANTIVE POLICY

Undoubtedly, nonstatutory techniques enable the appropriations committee and Congress to more effectively control broad policy than would otherwise be possible. Take for example the case of electric power wheeling agreements, where policy is determined in the process of contract negotiations between a government bureau and a non-governmental agency. In situations like this, nonstatutory devices can reconcile the need for administrative flexibility with a substantial degree of Congressional control. The appropriations committees use their reports and hearings to advance suggestions on policy that they would hesitate to legislate. Or, take the case where the appropriations committee wish to expand programs but are unable to translate their desires into specific money terms. Here they can employ nonstatutory directives that urge expansion at as fast a rate as the administrator feels is optimal. In these and many other situations nonstatutory techniques enhance the scope and depth of appropriations control over broad policy and thereby better enable the appropriations committee to fulfill one facet of their proper role.

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Government without Passing Laws: Congress' Nonstatutory Techniques for Appropriations Control
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