In a recent Open House Project update post, I mentioned an idea that I’d like to expand on and clarify. My suggestion is this: the House and Senate rules should both be amended to required committees to include agency reporting documents in their oversight plans.
When agencies are created or get jurisdiction, they often get reporting mandates along with any increased responsibilities. The congressional committees with oversight jurisdiction don’t necessarily pay rapt attention to all of the reporting that comes from agencies as a result of these requirements, and agencies don’t even necessarily perform all of the reporting that is required of them. (See the GAO, here, for just one example…)
In order to increase the efficacy of agency reporting requirements, committees’ oversight plans should include a listing of the agency reports that they expect to receive in over the congressional session. This would focus oversight staff’s attention on oversight responsibilities, give agencies an additional reminder to fulfill their reporting duties, and also allow for public oversight into the congressional oversight process, by collecting the disparate reporting requirements and integrating them into the oversight process.