Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Congress as manager: oversight hearings and agency morale

  • John D. Marvel (a1) and Robert J. McGrath (a2)
Abstract

Federal agencies perform many important tasks, from guarding against terrorist plots to mailing social security checks. A key question is whether Congress can effectively manage such a large and influential bureaucracy. We argue that Congress, in using oversight to ensure agency responsiveness to legislative preferences, risks harming agency morale, which could have negative long-run effects on performance and the implementation of public policy. More specifically, we argue that oversight’s effects on agency morale are conditional on whether oversight is adversarial or friendly. We assess our claims using a novel data set of the frequency and tone of hearings in which federal agencies are called to testify before Congress from 1999 to 2011 and merge it with data on agency autonomy and job satisfaction. Our findings suggest that agency morale is sensitive to congressional oversight attention, and thus speak to questions regarding democratic accountability, congressional policymaking and the implementation of public policy.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Congress as manager: oversight hearings and agency morale
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Congress as manager: oversight hearings and agency morale
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Congress as manager: oversight hearings and agency morale
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Aberbach, J. D. (1990) Keeping a Watchful Eye: The Politics of Congressional Oversight. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Angrist, J. D. and Krueger, A. B. (2001) Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 15(4): 6985.
Aryee, S., Chen, Z. X., Sun, L.-Y. and Debrah, Y. A. (2007) Antecedents and Outcomes of Abusive Supervision: Test of a Trickle-Down Model. Journal of Applied Psychology 92(1): 191201.
Balla, S. J. (1998) Administrative Procedures and Political Control of the Bureaucracy. The American Political Science Review 92(3): 663673.
Balla, S. J. and Deering, C. J. (2013) Police Patrol and Fire Alarms: An Empirical Examination of the Legislative Preference for Oversight. Congress & the Presidency 40(1): 2740.
Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K. and Li, N. (2013) The Theory of Purposeful Work Behavior: The Role of Personality, Higher-Order Goals, and Job Characteristics. Academy of Management Review 38(1): 132153.
Beermann, J. M. (2006) Congressional Administration. San Diego Law Review 43(1): 61159.
Behn, R. D. (1995) The Big Questions of Public Management. Public Administration Review 55(4): 313324.
Bendor, J., Taylor, S. and Van Gaalen, R. (1985) Bureaucratic Expertise Versus Legislative Authority: A Model of Deception and Monitoring in Budgeting. American Political Science Review 79(4): 10411060.
Bertelli, A. M. and Grose, C. R. (2011) The Lengthened Shadow of Another Institution: Ideal Point Estimates for the Executive Branch and Congress. American Journal of Political Science 55: 767781.
Bertelli, A. M., Mason, D. P., Connolly, J. M. and Gastwirth, D. A. (2015) Measuring Agency Attributes with Attitudes Across Time: A Method and Examples Using Large-Scale Federal Surveys. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 25(2): 513544.
Brewer, G. A. and Selden, S. C. (2000) Why Elephants Gallop: Assessing and Predicting Organizational Performance in Federal Agencies. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 10(4): 685712.
Clinton, J. D., Bertelli, A., Grose, C., Lewis, D. E. and Nixon, D. C. (2012) Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress. American Journal of Political Science 56(2): 341354.
Clinton, J. D., Jackman, S. and Rivers, D. (2004) The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data. The American Political Science Review 98(2): 355370.
Dodd, L. C. and Schott, R. L. (1979) Congress and the Administrative State. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989) Agency Theory: An Assessment and Review. Academy of Management Review 14(1): 5774.
Epstein, D. and O’Halloran, S. (1996) Divided Government and the Design of Administrative Procedures: A Formal Model and Empirical Test. The Journal of Politics 58(2): 373397.
Epstein, D. and O’Halloran, S. (1999) Delegating Powers: A Transaction Cost Politics Approach to Policymaking Under Separate Powers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ferejohn, J. and Shipan, C. (1990) Congressional Influence on Bureaucracy. Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 6: 120.
Fernandez, S. (2005) Developing and Testing an Integrative Framework of Public Sector Leadership: Evidence from the Public Education Arena. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 15(2): 197217.
Finer, H. (1941) Administrative Responsibility in Democratic Government. Public Administration Review 1: 335350.
Frey, B. S. and Oberholzer-Gee, F. (1997) The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out. The American Economic Review 87(4): 746755.
Friedrich, C. J. (1940) Public Policy and the Nature of Administrative Responsibility. In Friedrich C. J. and Mason E. S. (eds.), Public Policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 324.
Gagné, M. and Deci, E. L. (2005) Self-Determination Theory and Work Motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior 26(4): 331362.
Gailmard, S. (2009) Multiple Principals and Oversight of Bureaucratic Policy-Making. Journal of Theoretical Politics 21: 161186.
Gailmard, S. and Patty, J. W. (2007) Slackers and Zealots: Civil Service, Policy Discretion, and Bureaucratic Expertise. American Journal of Political Science 51(4): 873889.
Gailmard, S. and Patty, J. W. (2012) Learning While Governing: Expertise and Accountability in the Executive Branch. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Gilmour, R. S. and Halley, A. A. (eds.), (1994) Who Makes Public Policy?: The Struggle for Control Between Congress and the Executive. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers.
Grimmer J. and Stewart, B. M. (2013) Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts. Political Analysis 21(3): 267297.
Hackman, J. R. and Oldham, G. R. (1976) Motivation Through the Design of Work: Test of a Theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16(2): 250279.
Hopkins, D. J. and King, G. (2010) A Method of Automated Nonparametric Content Analysis for Social Science. American Journal of Political Science 54(1): 229247.
Houston, D. J. (2009) Motivating Knights or Knaves? Moving Beyond Performance-Related Pay for the Public Sector. Public Administration Review 69(1): 4357.
Huber, J. D. and Shipan, C. R. (2002) Deliberate Discretion? The Institutional Foundations of Bureaucratic Autonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E. and Patton, G. K. (2001) The Job Satisfaction–Job Performance Relationship: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review. Psychological Bulletin 127(3): 376407.
Kiewiet, R. and McCubbins, M. (1991) The Logic of Delegation: Congressional Parties and the Appropriation Process. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Kriner, D. and Schickler, E. (2013) The Policy Consequences of Congressional Investigations. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April.
Kriner, D. and Schwartz, L. (2008) Divided Government and Congressional Investigations. Legislative Studies Quarterly 33: 295322.
Lee, J., Rainey, H. G. and Chun, Y. (2009) Of Politics and Purpose: Political Salience and Goal Ambiguity of U.S. Federal Agencies. Public Administration 87: 457484.
Lee, S.-Y. and Whitford, A. B. (2013) Assessing the Effects of Organizational Resources on Public Agency Performance: Evidence from the US Federal Government. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 23(3): 687712.
Light, P. C. (1993) Monitoring Government: Inspectors General and the Search for Accountability. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.
Light, P. C. (2006) The Tides of Reform Revisited: Patterns in Making Government Work, 1945–2002. Public Administration Review 66(1): 619.
MacDonald, J. A. and McGrath, R. J. (forthcoming) Retrospective Congressional Oversight and the Dynamics of Legislative Influence over the Bureaucracy. Legislative Studies Quarterly (in press).
Markon, J., Nakashima, E. and Crites, A. (2014) Top-Level Turnover Makes it Harder for DHS to Stay on Top of Evolving Threats, http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/top-level-turnover-makes-it-harder-for-dhs-to-stay-on-top-of-evolving-threats/2014/09/21/ca7919a6-39d7-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html (accessed 8 January 2015).
Martin, A. D. and Quinn, K. M. (2002) Dynamic Ideal Point Estimation Via Markov Chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953–1999. Political Analysis 10(2): 134153.
Mathieu, J. E. and Zajac, D. M. (1990) A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences of Organizational Commitment. Psychological Bulletin 108(2): 171194.
May, P. J., Jochim, A. E. and Sapotichne, J. (2011) Constructing Homeland Security: An Anemic Policy Regime. Policy Studies Journal 39(2): 285307.
May, P. J., Sapotichne, J. and Workman, S. (2009) Widespread Policy Disruption: Terrorism, Public Risks, and Homeland Security. Policy Studies Journal 37(2): 171194.
May, P. J., Workman, S. and Jones, B. D. (2008) Organizing Attention: Responses of the Bureaucracy to Agenda Disruption. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 18(4): 517541.
Mayhew, D. R. (2005) Divided We Govern: Party Control, Lawmaking, and Investigations, 1946–1990, 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
McCubbins, M. D. and Schwartz, T. (1984) Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols Versus Fire Alarms. American Journal of Political Science 28(1): 165179.
McGrath, R. J. (2013) Congressional Oversight Hearings and Policy Control. Legislative Studies Quarterly 38(3): 353380.
Meier, K. J. (1975) Representative Bureaucracy: An Empirical Analysis. American Political Science Review 69: 526542.
Meier, K. J. (1997) Bureaucracy and Democracy: The Case for More Bureaucracy and Less Democracy. Public Administration Review 57(3): 193199.
Meier, K. J. and Nigro, L. G. (1976) Representative Bureaucracy and Policy Preferences. Public Administration Review 36(4): 458469.
Meyer, J. P., Stanley, D. J., Herscovitch, L. and Topolnytsky, L. (2002) Affective, Continuance, and Normative Commitment to the Organization: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences. Journal of Vocational Behavior 61(1): 2052.
Miller, G. J. (2005) The Political Evolution of Principal-Agent Models. Annual Review of Political Science 8: 203225.
Moe, T. M. (1989) The Politics of Bureaucratic Structure. In Chubb J. and Peterson P. (eds.), Can the Government Govern?. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 267329.
Ogul, M. S. and Rockman, B. A. (1990) Overseeing Oversight: New Departures and Old Problems. Legislative Studies Quarterly 15: 524.
Oleszek, W. J. (2001) Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process., 5th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
O’Toole, L. J. and Meier, K. J. (1999) Modeling the Impact of Public Management: Implications of Structural Context. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 9(4): 505526.
Parker, D. C. W. and Dull, M. (2009) Divided We Quarrel: The Politics of Congressional Investigations. Legislative Studies Quarterly 34: 319345.
Parnell, A. (1980) Congressional Interference in Agency Enforcement: The IRS Experience. Yale Law Journal 89(7): 13601394.
Perry, J. L. and Wise, L. R. (1990) The Motivational Bases of Public Service. Public Administration Review 50(3): 367373.
Pham, H. H., Ginsburg, P. B. and Verdier, J. M. (2009) Medicare Governance and Provider Payment Policy. Health Affairs 28(5): 13821394.
Rainey, H. G. and Steinbauer, P. (1999) Galloping Elephants: Developing Elements of a Theory of Effective Government Organizations. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 9(1): 132.
Riketta, M. (2002) Attitudinal Organizational Commitment and Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior 23(3): 257266.
Rosenbloom, D. H. (1993) Editorial: Have an Administrative Rx? Don’t Forget the Politics!. Public Administration Review 53(6): 503507.
Ryan, R. M. and Deci, E. L. (2000) Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American psychologist 55(1): 6878.
Shapiro, S. A. (1994) Political Oversight and the Deterioration of Regulatory Policy. Administrative Law Review 46(1): 140.
Shipan, C. R. (2004) Regulatory Regimes, Agency Actions, and the Conditional Nature of Congressional Influence. American Political Science Review 98(3): 467480.
Smith, K. (2003) The Growth of Congressional Oversight. Paper presented at the 2003 meeting of the American Political Science Association, 27 August 2003, Philadelphia, PA.
Spector, P. E. (1986) Perceived Control by Employees: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Concerning Autonomy and Participation at Work. Human Relations 39(11): 10051016.
Tepper, B. J. (2000) Consequences of Abusive Supervision. Academy of Management Journal 43(2): 178190.
Tepper, B. J. (2007) Abusive Supervision in Work Organizations: Review, Synthesis, and Research Agenda. Journal of Management 33(3): 261289.
Tett, R. P. and Meyer, J. P. (1993) Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, Turnover Intention, and Turnover: Path Analyses Based on Meta-Analytic Findings. Personnel Psychology 46(2): 259293.
Volden, C. (2002) Delegating Power to Bureaucracies: Evidence from the States. Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 18(1): 187220.
Waldo, D. (1948) The Administrative State. Teaneck, NJ: Holmes & Meier Publishers.
Ward, K. D. (2014) Cultivating Public Service Motivation Through AmeriCorps Service: A Longitudinal Study. Public Administration Review 74(1): 114125.
Weingast, B. R. and Moran, M. J. (1983) Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control? Regulatory Policymaking by the Federal Trade Commission. The Journal of Political Economy 91(5): 765800.
Whitford, A. B. (2005) The Pursuit of Political Control by Multiple Principals. Journal of Politics 67(1): 2849.
Wilson, J. Q. (1989) Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Wilson, W. (1887) The Study of Administration. In Shafritz J. M. and Hyde A. C. (eds.), Classics of Public Administration, 6th ed. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 1628.
Wolf, P. J. (1993) A Case Survey of Bureaucratic Effectiveness in US Cabinet Agencies: Preliminary Results. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 3(2): 161181.
Wood, B. D. and Bohte, J. (2004) Political Transaction Costs and the Politics of Administrative Design. Journal of Politics 66: 176202.
Wooldridge, J. M. (2010) Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Marvel and McGrath supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (401 KB)
401 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed