History of the House of Representatives

By George B. Galloway | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven
PERFORMANCE OF THE OVERSIGHT FUNCTION

IN THE COURSE of exercising its constitutionally delegated powers, the Congress impinges in many ways upon the administration of the laws. Congress can limit administrative discretion by detailed prescription of legislative standards, or by the adoption of resolutions otherwise limiting administrative action or subjecting it to some form of congressional approval or veto. It can fix the location of administrative responsibility and the form of organization; enact legislation affecting administrative personnel and procedures; itemize its appropriations; provide for review and audit of expenditures; require periodic and special reports from administrative agencies; and conduct investigations of the conduct of administration.

It would not be feasible to attempt to review even in summary fashion the history of the part played by the House of Representatives in these varied aspects of congressional surveillance of administration. This chapter will focus rather on three major areas of inspection and review: the selection of administrative personnel, the expenditure of public funds, and the economy and efficiency of administrative management. The specific role of the House of Representatives is stressed, but it cannot always be sharply differentiated from the actions of the Congress as a whole.

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