Legislative Oversight & Accountability
Oversight efforts play a key role in holding government accountable by ensuring tax dollars are spent wisely and government programs are operated efficiently. It is the Legislature's job to monitor state agencies as they implement new laws. Thus, conducting oversight is every bit as important as passing legislation.
On this page, you can find details of my work in the Legislature to support oversight functions that make our state work more effectively. For instance, I have worked with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to draft the Legislative Oversight Handbook to support oversight activities by Committee Chairs, Vice-Chairs, and key committee staff.
Additionally, I have authored several bills during my time in the Assembly dedicated to improving government oversight. Finally, in my role as Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee, I have worked with the Office of Legislative Counsel, the State Auditor's Office, and the Legislative Analyst's Office to organize a training for Assemblymembers and key legislative staff to support their own oversight activities and ensure they know of the many resources available to them.
Assemblyman Ken Cooley
Chair, Assembly Rules Committee
My Oversight and Accountability Legislation
During my time in the Legislature, I've authored several bills that focus on increasing government oversight and accountability.
During each session I've served in the Assembly I have written and carried Assembly Bill 12 to strength the accountability and transparency of California's regulatory process. This issue is one I have personally worked on for years. AB 12 requires that state agencies complete a top-to-bottom review of all current and new regulations to ensure that they are not duplicative, overlapping, inconsistent, or outdated.
In 2013, I authored Assembly Bill 117 to require the Department of Finance to issue guidelines for how state agency's independent monitors should be staffed, structured, and their reporting functions standardized to improve agency efficiency and administration. AB 117 passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Brown.
In 2014, I authored Assembly Bill 1711 to amend the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by requiring an economic impact assessment for non-major regulations be prepared at the onset of the rulemaking process and made available to the public for comment. AB 1711 passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Brown.
In 2016, I wrote Assembly Bill 2833 to create greater transparency and accountability by requiring all public pension funds to publicly disclose the various fees paid to their private equity general partners, hedge fund partners, and other investment partners each year. AB 2833 passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Brown.
Legislative Oversight Handbook
On February 27, 2017 Assemblyman Ken Cooley released the Legislative Oversight Handbook—a joint effort between Assemblyman Cooley and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. The handbook is meant to support state legislators as they perform their constitutional duties to monitor state agencies as those agencies implement and administer new laws. Oversight efforts play a key role in holding government accountable by making certain state programs are run in a professional and effective manner. The handbook is now available online at www.assembly.ca.gov/oversighthandbook and is available for the public.
The Legislative Oversight Handbook offers a toolkit for Assemblymembers as they prepare and conduct oversight activities. It includes a bird's-eye view of legislative oversight, a broad-based sampling of opinions about the vital role of oversight, an F.A.Q. on the laws and legislative rules governing oversight, how to build a resource book for each standing committee, and the history of the Assembly's published oversight activity going back to the 1980's. The latter shows that between 1992 and 2010, little Assembly Oversight work resulted in published reports.
Current Oversight Hearings
As a co-equal branch of government, it is the constitutional role of the Legislature to conduct oversight hearings of state bureaucracy. The United States has a great democratic tradition of public servants working vigorously to ensure government institutions work for the people. As former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards has said:
"When it comes to oversight functions...over the executive branch—take off your party hat. Put it in a drawer, and deal with this as somebody who has taken an oath of office...to carry out the mandates of the Constitution to function as the people's voice."