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date: 26 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter comments on “Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms,” in which Mathew McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz used the analogy of police patrols and fire alarms to the role of the legislature in monitoring and controlling the bureaucracy. McCubbins and Schwartz made a case for Congress’s assessment of program implementation. The chapter examines the theory of fire alarm oversight, as well as the influence of McCubbins and Schwartz’s argument on how scholars think about Congress’s relationship to the bureaucracy. In particular, it considers the use of the theory of fire alarm oversight to challenge views equating delegation and the rise of an administrative state with the decline of legislative power. It highlights some of the criticisms made, especially with respect to Congress’s heavy reliance on reactive strategies to gather information about agency performance.

Keywords: Mathew McCubbins, Thomas Schwartz, police patrols, fire alarms, legislature, bureaucracy, Congress, program implementation, theory of fire alarm oversight, delegation

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