House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

From OpenCongress Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is a United States House of Representatives committee that has existed in varying forms since 1816.

Contents

Members

MemberPartyState
Edolphus Towns
Paul KanjorskiRNC
Carolyn MaloneyDNY
Elijah CummingsDMD
Dennis Kucinich
John F. TierneyDMA
William Lacy ClayDMO
Diane WatsonDFL
Stephen LynchDMA
Jim CooperDTN
Gerry ConnollyDVA
Eleanor Holmes NortonDDC
Patrick J. KennedyDMN
Danny DavisDIL
Chris Van HollenDMD
Henry CuellarDTX
Paul HodesDAZ
Chris MurphyDCT
Peter WelchDVT
Bill FosterRLA
Jackie SpeierDCA
Steven DriehausRLA
Darrell IssaRCA
Dan Burton
John McHughRLA
John MicaRFL
Mark SouderRME
Todd Platts
Jimmy DuncanRTN
Michael TurnerROH
Lynn WestmorelandRGA
Patrick McHenryRNC
Brian Bilbray
Jim JordanROH
Jeff FlakeRAZ
Jeff FortenberryRNE
Jason ChaffetzRUT
Aaron SchockRIL


Subcommittees


Previous committee membership

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Members of the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
110th Congress
Democrats: Republicans:


109th Congress (2005-2006)

Members of the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
109th Congress
Democrats: Republicans:


Action

110th Congress

Subcommittee changes

In January 2007, Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) created a new subcommittee for Information Policy, Census and National Archives, devoted to increasing administration transparency particularly with regard to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The subcommittee accompanied the reorganization and creation of four other subcommittees including: National Security and International Relations; Domestic Policy; Federal Workforce, Post Office and the District of Columbia; and Government Management, Organization and Procurement. According to Waxman, the general goal was to, “equalize the jurisdiction so each subcommittee is a substantial subcommittee in terms of what it has to do.”[1]

Investigations of government contracts

On May 11, 2007, Waxman expanded his congressional investigation of military contracts to include the Coast Guard's Deepwater Program.[2]

On June 19, 2007, Waxman released a follow up to a 2006 report in which three conclusions were made. Focusing on years 2000 through 2006, the report found that procurement spending had risen over 100% in this time period, that over half of all contracts were non-competitive, and that 187 contracts valued at $1.1 trillion were plagued by waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.(View a pdf of the report here)

Global climate change

On January 30, 2007, hearings were held to investigate the Bush administration's climate policy. Waxman said he and the top Republican, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), had “sought documents from the administration on climate policy, but repeatedly been rebuffed.”

Waxman further explained that, "The committee isn't trying to obtain state secrets or documents that could affect our immediate national security," as he opened the hearing. He continued, "We are simply seeking answers to whether the White House's political staff is inappropriately censoring impartial government scientists."[3]

During the hearing, two advocacy groups presented a survey which revealed that many of the government's climate scientists said they have been subjected to "political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming."[4]

The survey showed that two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that "some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning." Additionally, close to half of the 279 scientists said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete references to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.[5]

Battling cronyism

In early February 2007, the committee began investigating the use of screening tactics for candidates vying for positions in the Department of Defense. According to allegations, the questions included who they had voted for, and whether they supported Roe v. Wade. Waxman issued an ultimatum on February 13 to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saying that if he did not hand over relevant documents by February 20, the committee would issue "compulsory measures."[6]

Investigation of the Republican National Committee and Bush-Cheney '04 email account usage

Citing evidence that senior White House officials were using RNC and other political email accounts to avoid leaving a record of official communications, Chairman Waxman directed the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney ’04 Campaign to preserve the emails of White House officials. In addition, he asked the entities to meet with Committee staff to explain how the accounts are managed and what steps were being taken to protect the emails from destruction and tampering.[7]

In June 2007, the committee issued an interim staff report summarizing discovered evidence and offering recommendations. Among other findings, the report revealed that:

  • The number of White House officials given RNC e-mail accounts was higher than previously disclosed.
  • White House officials made extensive use of their RNC e-mail accounts.
  • There had been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC.
  • There was evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.[8]

The report explained that its findings may describe what "could be the most serious breach of the Presidential Records Act in the 30-year history of the law."[9]

Investigation of the General Services Administration

On March 30, 2007, GSA administrator Lurita Doan testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee about her potentially illegal activities, such as encouraging agency employees to help Republican candidates in elections and granting a no-bid contract to a personal friend. Under the Hatch Act, executive branch employees are barred from using their positions for political purposes.

Watch the hearing here:

On May 24, 2007, Waxman asked Doan to testify again, this time regarding allegations that she made false statements during the investigation into whether she violated the Hatch Act.[10]

On June 13, 2007, Doan returned to the committee to address why she gave the Office of Special Council information that seemed to contradict her previous testimony before the committee. With the committee finding her in violation of the Hatch Act, Chairman Waxman called for Doan's resignation.[11]

Investigation of lobbying contacts between Abramoff and the White House

Chairman Waxman headed an investigation into the contacts between Jack Abramoff and the White House. In late March 2007, Waxman called for former White House aide and Abramoff assistant Susan Ralston to give a deposition before the committee on April 5, 2007. [12]

Rice asked to testify

Waxman requested that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appear before the Committee on April 18 to testify on issues including the Bush administration's claim that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. [13]

Following the authorization to subpoena Secretary Rice on April 24, 2007, Secretary Rice stated on April 29 that she would not comply with a subpoena were it to be issued. [14]

Dropping of corporate espionage inquiry

Despite claims that Barbour Griffith & Rogers and Diligence engaged in corporate espionage, the Committee dropped the investigation because of "House rules prohibiting members from taking investigative action that would advance the interests of a party in litigation." Allegedly, the company had representatives impersonate U.S. and British intelligence operatives to obtain documents from another company which was contending for control of a Russian cell phone company. [15]

Investigation into Pentagon reports

On April 10, 2007, the committee announced that it would investigate Pentagon reports surrounding both the 2003 rescuing of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, and the 2004 death of Patrick Tillman in Afghanistan. In the case of Jessica Lynch, Lynch herself had said that she was "bothered by the way the military publicized her rescue," stating that the events were exaggerated. Patrick Tillman's death was the result of friendly fire, which was immediately recognized by the soldiers present, yet the Pentagon's release stated that it was the result of enemy combatants. Earlier in 2007, the Pentagon notified Tillman's family of the true cause of death, sparking criticism that the Pentagon politicized the misfortunes of soldiers. [16]

Lieutenant General Philip Kensinger was ultimately censured by the Army for his role in the announcement of the death of Tillman. In August 2007, his attorney accused Waxman of lying when he said that Kensinger had refused to testify and promised to evade a subpoena. Rather, he argued that while Kensinger would not voluntarily testify, he did not evade service and would not in the future. I observed that it was unlikely that they would find him, which was true, since the meeting was not in his home."[17]

Transportation department lobbying

On June 12, 2007, Waxman expressed concern over how the Department of Transportation was lobbying members of Congress regarding states' ability to establish their own emission standards above those that are federally mandated. California and eleven other states had submitted requests for permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set stricter regulations. Department officials contacted congressional offices asking them to oppose the requests by states like California. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, Waxman questioned the department's actions on the matter, stating that "such an effort by the Department appears to be highly inappropriate and would be considered by some to be illegal."[18]

On June 13, 2007, the Transportation Department responded in a letter to the committee from the department's acting general counsel, Rosalind A. Knapp, denying that it violated any anti-lobbying restrictions. Knapp cited that the restrictions Chairman Waxman referred to "do not apply to direct contact between Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, nor do they apply to contact concerning matters pending within the Executive Branch, as opposed to legislative matters."[19]

Cheney attempts to exempt his office from investigation

On June 21, 2007, Waxman complained that Vice President Dick Cheney had continually tried to evade an investigation of his office. According to Waxman, Cheney’s office blocked the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office from an inspection, arguing that it "does not consider itself an ‘entity within the executive branch.’" Earlier, Waxman explained, Cheney's office tried to have the Information Security Oversight Office abolished when it appealed to the Department of Justice to try to investigate Cheney.[20]

On June 25, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to excuse himself from the Justice Department's evaluation of the Vice President's office as an entity within or outside the executive branch, stating that Gonzales "has lost the faith and trust of the American people in making impartial decisions when it affects the president and vice president." He also criticized the Attorney General for taking six months to respond to the Information Security Oversight Office's request for clarification on the role of Vice President Cheney in the government. Schumer also expressed the possibility of making a move in the Senate similar to what had been proposed by House Democratic Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). This would eliminate executive-branch appropriations for the Office of the Vice President if Cheney did not consider it an entity within the executive branch.[21]

Durbin threatens to cut off funding to Vice President's office

On June 25, 2007, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the committee which funds the Vice President's office, threatened to cut off funding to Cheney's office if Cheney continued to exempt his office from oversight.[22]

White House inadequate on handling classified information

Waxman issued a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding stating that the White House had failed at several requirements for protecting classified information. Waxman pointed out the inadequate practices and security failures after being contacted by several former White House security personnel. The problems included blocking inspections by the White House Security Office, failure by that office to investigate breaches reported by Secret Service or CIA agents, having White House aide Karl Rove's security clearance renewed in late 2006, contrary to guidelines issued by President Bush, and ignoring basic security procedures. Waxman wrote the letter as a response to a statement made by White House spokeswoman Dana Perino that "the White House was generally following rules and regulations on the handling of classified information," in light of an oversight dispute with the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Waxman also stated that repeated interview requests with White House security officials had not been answered, and that he would seek issuing subpoenas to the White House on the matter if they continued to be ignored.[23]

109th Congress

Jack Abramoff

In June or July, Chairman Tom Davis approved subpoenas ordering former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, to turn over records of any contact that Abramoff or his team had with the White House. The subpoenas are for documents dating back to 1998, though Abramoff did not join the firm until 2001.[24] In its search for Abramoff contacts within the Bush Administration, the committee is also seeking e-mails, billing records and other documents from numerous firms connected to Abramoff.[25]

Global warming

On July 20, 2006, Chairman Davis and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) (Ranking Member) announced that a bipartisan investigation would be launched in an effort to determine whether White House officials, including former chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, Philip A. Cooney, intentionally edited climate reports to diminish the perceived threat of global warming.[26]

Minority report on Hurricane Katrina waste

In August 2006, the Democratic members of the committee released a report regarding government spending in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They noted that, as of June 30, 2006, over $10.6 billion in federal funds had been awarded to private contractors for Gulf Coast recovery and reconstruction. Only 30% of the contracts, however, had been awarded through full and open competition. In addition, the committee reported that mistakes had been made in nearly every step of the contracting process, as there were not enough trained contract officials to oversee contract spending in the Gulf Coast. Lastly, the report identified 19 Katrina contracts collectively worth $8.75 billion that had been plagued by waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.[27]

Articles and Resources

References

Wikipedia also has an article on House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

  1. Alexander Bolton, "Waxman to stir debate with transparency subcommittee," The Hill, January 4, 2007.
  2. Kevin Bogardus, "Waxman widens Pentagon probe," The Hill, May 11, 2007.
  3. H. Josef Hebert, "Waxman Seeks Climate Inquiry Evidence," Associated Press (via Washington Post), January 30, 2007.
  4. H. Josef Hebert, "Waxman Seeks Climate Inquiry Evidence," Associated Press (via Washington Post), January 30, 2007.
  5. H. Josef Hebert, "Waxman Seeks Climate Inquiry Evidence," Associated Press (via Washington Post), January 30, 2007.
  6. Spencer Ackerman, "Waxman to DOD: Turn Over Iraq Cronymaster," TPM Muckraker, February 13, 2007.
  7. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Staff, "The Use of RNC E-Mail Accounts by White House Officials," House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 18, 2007.
  8. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Staff, "The Use of RNC E-Mail Accounts by White House Officials," House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 18, 2007.
  9. Klaus Marre, "Report: Bush aides may have circumvented records act," The Hill, June 18, 2007.
  10. Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr., "Oversight Chairman Wants GSA Chief to Testify Again," Washington Post, May 24, 2007.
  11. Laura McGann, [http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003425.php "Waxman To Doan: Step Down ,"] TPM Muckraker, June 13, 2007.
  12. Susan Crabtree, "Waxman wants to depose former White House aide," The Hill, March 30, 2007.
  13. Klaus Marre, "Waxman asks Rice to testify," The Hill, March 30, 2007.
  14. Klaus Marre, "Rice will not comply with House subpoena," The Hill, April 29, 2007.
  15. Jeff Patch, "Waxman Drops Inquiry Into Alleged Espionage," Politico, April 2, 2007.
  16. "House panel to probe reports on Tillman, Jessica Lynch," CNN, April 10, 2007.
  17. Michael Roston, "Attorney for censured General: Waxman told 'blatant lie' on subpoena evasion," Raw Story, August 7, 2007.
  18. Kara Oppenheim, "Waxman: DoT lobbying tactics ‘inappropriate’," The Hill, June 12, 2007.
  19. Kara Oppenheim, "DoT tells Waxman it didn't break the rules ," The Hill, June 13, 2007.
  20. Klaus Marre. Waxman targets Cheney on classified docs. The Hill. June 21, 2007.
  21. Elana Schor, "Schumer: Gonzales not fit to rule on Cheney’s role," The Hill, June 25, 2007.
  22. Elana Schor and Mike Soraghan, "Secrecy may cost Cheney, Dems warn," The Hill, June 26, 2007.
  23. Kevin Bogardus, "Waxman: White House lax on protecting secret docs," The Hill, June 16, 2007.
  24. Susan Schmidt, "Abramoff Lobbying of White House Probed," Washington Post, July 15, 2006.
  25. John Bresnahan, "Davis Seeks Exec Branch Abramoff Contacts," Roll Call, July 20, 2006.
  26. "White House’s doctoring of climate reports," Think Progress, July 20, 2006.
  27. Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Hurricane Katrina Contracts," U.S. House of Representatives, August 24, 2006.

Resources

News releases

Articles

Contact

URL: http://reform.house.gov/

  • Majority staff office - (202) 225-5074
  • Minority staff office - (202) 225-5051
Toolbox