The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. It has authority to investigate the subjects within the Committee’s legislative jurisdiction as well as “any matter” within the jurisdiction of the other standing House Committees.
The legislative jurisdiction of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform includes the following areas, as set forth in House Rule X, clause 1:
• Federal civil service, including intergovernmental personnel; and the
status of officers and employees of the United States, including their compensation,
classification, and retirement;
• Municipal affairs of the District of Columbia in general (other than appropriations);
• Federal paperwork reduction;
• Government management and accounting measures generally;
• Holidays and celebrations;
• Overall economy, efficiency, and management of government operations and activities, including federal procurement;
• National archives;
• Population and demography generally, including the Census;
• Postal service generally, including transportation of the mails;
• Public information and records;
• Relationship of the federal government to the states and municipalities generally; and
• Reorganizations in the executive branch of the government.
The oversight responsibilities of the Committee are set forth in House Rule X, clauses 2, 3, and 4.
House Rule X, clause 2(b), provides that the Committee shall review and study on a continuing basis—
(A) the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(B) the organization and operation of Federal agencies and entities having responsibilities for the administration and execution of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(C) any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new or additional legislation addressing subjects within its jurisdiction (whether or not a bill or resolution has been introduced with respect thereto); and
(D) future research and forecasting on subjects within its jurisdiction.
House Rule X, clause 3(i), provides that the Committee shall “review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government activities at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency.”
House Rule X, clause 4(c)(1), provides that the Committee shall:
(A) receive and examine reports of the Comptroller General of the United States and submit to the House such recommendations as it considers necessary or desirable in connection with the subject matter of the reports;
(B) evaluate the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government; and
(C) study intergovernmental relationships between the States and municipalities and between the United States and international organizations of which the United States is a member.
And House Rule X, clause 4(c)(2), provides that the Committee “may at any time conduct investigations of any matter without regard to clause 1, 2, 3, or this clause [of House Rule X] conferring jurisdiction over the matter to another standing committee.”
Except where the terms “full committee” and “subcommittee” are specifically referred to, the following rules shall apply to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and its subcommittees as well as to the respective chairs. [See House Rule XI, 1.]
The chairman is authorized to dispense with a regular meeting or to change the date thereof, and to call and convene additional meetings, when circumstances warrant. A special meeting of the Committee may be requested by members of the Committee following the provisions of House Rule XI, clause 2(c)(2). Subcommittees shall meet at the call of the subcommittee chairs. Every member of the Committee or the appropriate subcommittee, unless prevented by unusual circumstances, shall be provided with a memorandum at least three calendar days before each meeting or hearing explaining (1) the purpose of the meeting or hearing; and (2) the names, titles, background and reasons for appearance of any witnesses. The ranking minority member shall be responsible for providing the same information on witnesses whom the minority may request. [See House Rule XI, 2 (b) and (c).]
(a) A majority of the members of the Committee shall form a quorum, except that two members shall constitute a quorum for taking testimony and receiving evidence, and one third of members shall form a quorum for taking any action other than for which the presence of a majority of the Committee is otherwise required. If the chairman is not present at any meeting of the committee or subcommittee, the ranking member of the majority party on the Committee or subcommittee who is present shall preside at that meeting.
(b) The chairman of the Committee may, at the request of a subcommittee chair, make a temporary assignment of any member of the Committee to such subcommittee for the purpose of constituting a quorum at and participating in any public hearing by such subcommittee to be held outside of Washington, DC. Members appointed to such temporary positions shall not be voting members. The chairman shall give reasonable notice of such temporary assignment to the ranking members of the Committee and subcommittee. [See House Rule XI, 2(h).]
Bills and resolutions approved by the Committee shall be reported by the chairman following House Rule XIII, clauses 2- 4. A proposed report shall not be considered in subcommittee or full Committee unless the proposed report has been available to the members of such subcommittee or full Committee for at least three calendar days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, unless the House is in session on such days) before consideration of such proposed report in subcommittee or full Committee. Any report will be considered as read if available to the members at least 24 hours before consideration, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays unless the House is in session on such days. If hearings have been held on the matter reported upon, every reasonable effort shall be made to have such hearings printed and available to the members of the subcommittee or full Committee before the consideration of the proposed report in such subcommittee or full Committee. Every investigative report shall be approved by a majority vote of the Committee at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Supplemental, minority, or additional views may be filed following House Rule XI, clause 2(l) and Rule XIII, clause 3(a)(1). The time allowed for filing such views shall be three calendar days, beginning on the day of notice, but excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays (unless the House is in session on such a day), unless the Committee agrees to a different time, but agreement on a shorter time shall require the concurrence of each member seeking to file such views. An investigative or oversight report may be filed after sine die adjournment of the last regular session of Congress, provided that if a member gives timely notice of intention to file supplemental, minority or additional views, that member shall be entitled to not less than seven calendar days in which to submit such views for inclusion with the report. Only those reports approved by a majority vote of the Committee may be ordered printed, unless otherwise required by the Rules of the House of Representatives.
In accordance with the Rules of the House of Representatives, members may not vote by proxy on any measure or matter before the Committee or any subcommittee. [See House Rule XI, 2(f).]
A record vote of the members may be had upon the request of any member upon approval of a one-fifth vote of the members present.
The Committee staff shall maintain in the Committee offices a complete record of Committee actions from the current Congress including a record of the rollcall votes taken at Committee business meetings. The original records, or true copies thereof, as appropriate, shall be available for public inspection whenever the Committee offices are open for public business. The staff shall assure that such original records are preserved with no unauthorized alteration, additions, or defacement. [See House Rule XI, 2(e).]
(a) There shall be five standing subcommittees with appropriate party ratios. The chairman shall assign members to the subcommittees. Minority party assignments shall be made only with the concurrence of the ranking minority member. The subcommittees shall have the following fixed jurisdictions:
(1) The Subcommittee on Domestic Policy – Oversight jurisdiction over domestic policies, including matters relating to energy, labor, education, criminal justice, and the economy. The Subcommittee also has legislative jurisdiction over the Office of National Drug Control Policy;
(2) The Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia – Federal employee issues, the municipal affairs (other than appropriations) of the District of Columbia, and the Postal Service. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes postal namings, holidays, and celebrations;
(3) The Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement – The management of government operations, reorganizations of the executive branch, and federal procurement;
(4) The Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives – Public information and records laws such as the Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Census Bureau, and the National Archives and Records Administration; and
(5) The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs – Oversight jurisdiction over national security, homeland security, and foreign affairs.
(b) Bills, resolutions, and other matters shall be expeditiously referred by the chairman to subcommittees for consideration or investigation in accordance with their fixed jurisdictions. Where the subject matter of the referral involves the jurisdiction of more than one subcommittee or does not fall within any previously assigned jurisdiction, the chairman shall refer the matter as he may deem advisable. Bills, resolutions, and other matters referred to subcommittees may be reassigned by the chairman when, in his judgment, the subcommittee is not able to complete its work or cannot reach agreement therein. In a subcommittee having an even number of members, if there is a tie vote with all members voting on any measure, the measure shall be placed on the agenda for full Committee consideration as if it had been ordered reported by the subcommittee without recommendation. This provision shall not preclude further action on the measure by the subcommittee.
The chairman and the ranking minority member of the Committee shall be ex officio members of all subcommittees. They are authorized to vote on subcommittee matters; but, unless they are regular members of the subcommittee, they shall not be counted in determining a subcommittee quorum other than a quorum for taking testimony.
Except as otherwise provided by House Rule X, clauses 6, 7 and 9, the chairman of the full Committee shall have the authority to hire and discharge employees of the professional and clerical staff of the full Committee and of subcommittees.
Except as otherwise provided by House Rule X, clauses 6, 7 and 9, the staff of the Committee shall be subject to the direction of the chairman of the full Committee and shall perform such duties as he may assign.
(a) Each subcommittee of the Committee is authorized to meet, hold hearings, receive testimony, mark up legislation, and report to the full Committee on any measure or matter referred to it.
(b) No subcommittee of the Committee may meet or hold a hearing at the same time as a meeting or hearing of the Committee.
(c) The chair of each subcommittee shall set hearing and meeting dates only with the approval of the chairman with a view toward assuring the availability of meeting rooms and avoiding simultaneous scheduling of Committee and subcommittee meetings or hearings.
(d) Each subcommittee chair shall notify the chairman of any hearing plans at least two weeks before the date of commencement of the hearings, including the date, place, subject matter, and the names of witnesses, willing and unwilling, who would be called to testify, including, to the extent the chair is advised thereof, witnesses whom the minority members may request.
(e) Witnesses appearing before the Committee shall so far as practicable, submit written statements at least 24 hours before their appearance and, when appearing in a non-governmental capacity, provide a curriculum vitae and a listing of any Federal Government grants and contracts received in the previous fiscal year. [See House Rules XI, 2 (g)(3), (g)(4), (j) and (k).]
Meetings for the transaction of business and hearings of the Committee shall be open to the public or closed in accordance with Rule XI of the House of Representatives. [See House Rules XI, 2 (g) and (k).]
(a) A Committee member may question a witness only when recognized by the chairman for that purpose. In accordance with House Rule XI, clause 2(j)(2), each Committee member may request up to five minutes to question a witness until each member who so desires has had such opportunity. Until all such requests have been satisfied, the chairman shall, so far as practicable, recognize alternately based on seniority of those majority and minority members present at the time the hearing was called to order and others based on their arrival at the hearing. After that, additional time may be extended at the direction of the chairman.
(b) The chairman, with the concurrence of the ranking minority member, or the Committee by motion, may permit an equal number of majority and minority members to question a witness for a specified, total period that is equal for each side and not longer than thirty minutes for each side.
(c) The chairman, with the concurrence of the ranking minority member, or the Committee by motion, may permit Committee staff of the majority and minority to question a witness for a specified, total period that is equal for each side and not longer than thirty minutes for each side.
(d) Nothing in paragraph (b) or (c) affects the rights of a Member (other than a Member designated under paragraph (b)) to question a witness for 5 minutes in accordance with paragraph (a) after the questioning permitted under paragraph (b) or (c). In any extended questioning permitted under paragraph (b) or (c), the chairman shall determine how to allocate the time permitted for extended questioning by majority members or majority Committee staff and the ranking minority member shall determine how to allocate the time permitted for extended questioning by minority members or minority committee staff. The chairman or the ranking minority member, as applicable, may allocate the time for any extended questioning permitted to staff under paragraph (c) to members.
Investigative hearings shall be conducted according to the procedures in House Rule XI, clause 2(k). All questions put to witnesses before the Committee shall be relevant to the subject matter before the Committee for consideration, and the chairman shall rule on the relevance of any questions put to the witnesses.
A stenographic record of all testimony shall be kept of public hearings and shall be made available on such conditions as the chairman may prescribe.
(a) An open meeting or hearing of the Committee or a subcommittee may be covered, in whole or in part, by television broadcast, radio broadcast, Internet broadcast, and still photography, unless closed subject to the provisions of House Rule XI, clause 2(g). Any such coverage shall conform with the provisions of House Rule XI, clause 4.
(b) Use of the Committee Broadcast System shall be fair and nonpartisan, and in accordance with House Rule XI, clause 4(b), and all other applicable rules of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Government Reform. Members of the committee shall have prompt access to a copy of coverage by the Committee Broadcast System, to the extent that such coverage is maintained.
(c) Personnel providing coverage of an open meeting or hearing of the Committee or a subcommittee by Internet broadcast, other than through the Committee Broadcast System, shall be currently accredited to the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Galleries.
The chairman shall maintain an official Committee website for the purpose of furthering the Committee’s legislative and oversight responsibilities, including communicating information about the Committee’s activities to Committee members and other members of the House. The ranking minority member may maintain an official website for the purpose of carrying out official responsibilities including but not limited to communicating information about the activities of the minority to Committee members and other members of the House.
The chairman of the full Committee shall:
(a) Make available to other committees the findings and recommendations resulting from the investigations of the Committee or its subcommittees as required by House Rule X, clause 4(c)(2);
(b) Direct such review and studies on the impact or probable impact of tax policies affecting subjects within the Committee’s jurisdiction as required by House Rule X, clause 2(c);
(c) Submit to the Committee on the Budget views and estimates required by House Rule X, clause 4(f), and to file reports with the House as required by the Congressional Budget Act;
(d) Authorize and issue subpoenas as provided in House Rule XI, clause 2(m), in the conduct of any investigation or activity or series of investigations or activities within the jurisdiction of the Committee;
(e) Prepare, after consultation with subcommittee chairs and the minority, a budget for the Committee which shall include an adequate budget for the subcommittees to discharge their responsibilities;
(f) Make any necessary technical and conforming changes to legislation reported by the committee upon unanimous consent; and
(g) The chairman is directed to offer a motion under clause 1 of Rule XXII of the Rules of the House whenever the chairman considers it appropriate.
The Committee has adopted the policy that the determination of the subject matter of commemorative stamps and new semi-postal issues is properly is for consideration by the Postmaster General and that the Committee will not give consideration to legislative proposals specifying the subject matter of commemorative stamps and new semi-postal issues. It is suggested that recommendations for the subject matter of stamps be submitted to the Postmaster General.
(a) The chairman of the Committee is authorized to appoint panels or task forces to carry out the duties and functions of the Committee.
(b) The chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee may serve as ex-officio members of each panel or task force.
(c) The chairman of any panel or task force shall be appointed by the chairman of the Committee. The ranking minority member shall select a ranking minority member for each panel or task force.
(d) The House and Committee rules applicable to subcommittee meetings, hearings, recommendations, and reports shall apply to the meetings, hearings, recommendations, and reports of panels and task forces.
(e) No panel or task force so appointed shall continue in existence for more than six months. A panel or task force so appointed may, upon the expiration of six months, be reappointed by the chairman.
The chairman, upon consultation with the ranking minority member, may order the taking of depositions, under oath and pursuant to notice or subpoena.
Notices for the taking of depositions shall specify the date, time, and place of examination. Depositions shall be taken under oath administered by a member or a person otherwise authorized to administer oaths.
Consultation with the ranking minority member shall include three business day’s written notice before any deposition is taken. All members shall also receive three business day’s written notice that a deposition has been scheduled.
Witnesses may be accompanied at a deposition by counsel to advise them of their rights. No one may be present at depositions except members, Committee staff designated by the chairman or ranking minority member, an official reporter, the witness, and the witness’s counsel. Observers or counsel for other persons, or for agencies under investigation, may not attend.
A deposition shall be conducted by any member or staff attorney designated by the chairman or ranking minority member. When depositions are conducted by Committee staff attorneys, there shall be no more than two Committee staff attorneys permitted to question a witness per round. One of the Committee staff attorneys shall be designated by the chairman and the other by the ranking minority member. Other Committee staff members designated by the chairman or ranking minority member may attend, but may not pose questions to the witness.
Questions in the deposition shall be propounded in rounds, alternating between the majority and minority. A single round shall not exceed 60 minutes per side, unless the members or staff attorneys conducting the deposition agree to a different length of questioning. In each round, a member or Committee staff attorney designated by the chairman shall ask questions first, and the member or Committee staff attorney designated by the ranking minority member shall ask questions second.
The chairman may rule on any objections raised during a deposition. If a member of the Committee appeals in writing the ruling of the chairman, the appeal shall be preserved for Committee consideration. A witness that refuses to answer a question after being directed to answer by the chairman may be subject to sanction, except that no sanctions may be imposed if the ruling of the chairman is reversed on appeal.
Committee staff shall ensure that the testimony is either transcribed or electronically recorded or both. If a witness’s testimony is transcribed, the witness or the witness’s counsel shall be afforded an opportunity to review a copy. No later than five days thereafter, the witness may submit suggested changes to the chairman. Committee staff may make any typographical and technical changes requested by the witness. Substantive changes, modifications, clarifications, or amendments to the deposition transcript submitted by the witness must be accompanied by a letter signed by the witness requesting the changes and a statement of the witness’s reasons for each proposed change. Any substantive changes, modifications, clarifications, or amendments shall be included as an appendix to the transcript conditioned upon the witness signing the transcript.
The individual administering the oath, if other than a member, shall certify on the transcript that the witness was duly sworn. The transcriber shall certify that the transcript is a true record of the testimony, and the transcript shall be filed, together with any electronic recording, with the clerk of the Committee in Washington, DC. Depositions shall be considered to have been taken in Washington, DC, as well as the location actually taken once filed there with the clerk of the Committee for the Committee’s use. The chairman and the ranking minority member shall be provided with a copy of the transcripts of the deposition at the same time.
The chairman and ranking minority member shall consult regarding the release of depositions. If either objects in writing to a proposed release of a deposition or a portion thereof, the matter shall be promptly referred to the Committee for resolution.
A witness shall not be required to testify unless the witness has been provided with a copy of the Committee’s rules.