Congressional Reporting: A Management Process to Build a Legislative-Centered Public Administration

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Virginia Tech


Congressional reporting requirements are an integral part of congressional oversight. These oversight-reporting activities are an important element of the concept of a legislative-centered public administration (Rosenbloom, 2000) "derived from the major discussions, decisions, and actions taken by Congress with regard to federal administration." This dissertation first describes the development of congressional reporting requirements by presenting selected agency cases. Based on these cases, common themes are identified that help in understanding the requirements and the problems associated with congressional reporting. The dissertation then makes specific recommendations for enhancing reporting requirement activities (e.g., tracking, monitoring and feedback) as part of the congressional oversight process. A proposed management approach to improve the congressional oversight process to build a legislative-centered public administration is presented at the conclusion of the dissertation. The dissertation process used a research approach that included selected cases, interviews with key individuals in the reporting process and analysis of data, including databases maintained by the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate.

The dissertation is composed of three parts with two chapters in each part. Part I covers background information about congressional reporting requirements, the objectives and approach used in writing the dissertation, and the key theoretical literature that underpins the discussion of congressional reporting requirements. Part II of the dissertation discusses management and growth of reporting requirements. Part III of the dissertation discusses ways to gain control of congressional reporting requirements and increase their usefulness. The dissertation concludes that there is little evidence to indicate that congressional reporting requirements are being systematically managed in a way that achieves the objective for which they are created. The most serious substantive shortcoming is the lack of an institutional process to support and encourage discussion between Congress and the agencies preparing reports to provide for feedback and to identify reporting requirements that are no longer necessary. A comprehensive and systematic management approach is needed and a proposed management approach is discussed. Comprehensive and systematic management will bring about greater collaboration between congressional committees and their agency partners in an enhanced legislative-centered public administration.



congressional reporting requirements, performance reporting, congressional oversight, legislative-centered public administration, management process