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The need to hold the heads of departments and agencies accountable

Updated on November 10, 2014


The results of the 2014 mid-term elections signal a change in the coming months in the new legislative sessions over the next two years. The approval rating of Congress has been at a low point for the past few years and the public has sent a strong message. Voters are not satisfied with the way Congress has been working or not working and will hold those they have put in power accountable over the next two years. Accountable is the key word in the coming two years but accountability also applies to those individuals in charge of executive departments and agencies.

Congress in the past to some extent has had hearings regarding specific issues with departments and agencies but it primarily has been the focus of one political party not both. While there has been some focus by both parties the appearance and reaction by the party in power at the time wanted to downplay the issues in some respects though not always. When problems surface the issue or issues needs to be emphasized by both political parties regardless of who is in power. Both parties get involved when public opinion is of such magnitude that it would be political suicide to ignore them. Issues which violate the freedoms we have in the Constitution should be a priority by both political parties to get to the root of the problem and ensure they receive all the information they request. No issue which falls within the example in the previous sentence should be taken lightly by any political party but time and time again this has not been the case.

Funding for government departments and agencies is allocated by Congress and signed as part of the budget by the President. These entities are entrusted with tax dollars to accomplish their responsibilities which are defined by the laws which are associated with their mission. Accountability for the dollars they receive has not seen the best results as millions and possibly billions of dollars cannot be accounted for and is a failure of being good stewards of the public’s money. It is difficult to control spending if the money being allocated cannot be traced within each department or agency. The public deserves to know where the dollars for each department or agency are spent.

Accountability also involves a focus on the mission of each department or agency. The focus should be the mission with which each department or agency is entrusted. Policy should not get in the way of missions in the executive department. Policy does have a place but it should coincide with identified missions. Creating regulations and rules which have a vague connection or no connection to their responsibilities should see action by Congress to reverse these actions. Part of the problem of overreach of government especially at the federal level is the straying from the mission to political policy. While some actions may have a connection to a department or agency’s mission the scope of some are clearly disconnected from the mission.

Last but not least Congress needs to get control and perform their responsibilities in reference to the oversight responsibilities for the actions of departments and agencies. They need to use whatever tools they have available to ensure rules and regulations are in agreement with each mission. The widespread use of rules and regulations continuously being generated needs to be monitored more closely than in the past. It should be the responsibility of both political parties as is their duty to all citizens. Decisions are being made in some cases which can be described as reckless with negative impacts on the economy and the business community. It is hoped the strong message from the election will cause a change in the way Congress achieves its responsibilities and gets involved with departments and agencies actions. Actions taken by Congress should not impede the capability of these entities to perform their assigned tasks but actions need to be monitored better than they have in the past. The time to act is prior to actions being taken not after to prevent overreach activities.


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