Oversight Summit

About Oversight Summit

All Americans deserve a government that is effective, ethical, responsive, accountable, and transparent.

The Oversight Summit 2018 is being held after Americans cast their ballots in this November, because this is about getting answers to questions that anyone from any party can ask–and everyone, regardless of political party, should want to know.

Practitioners of government oversight, from across sectors and from every point on the political spectrum, will come together for this day long summit to talk about the challenges they face and the opportunities they have discovered in conducting effective government oversight, and to chart a path forward for working together.


The Summit will explore government oversight through three themes.

Capacity and Capability: examining whether our key oversight bodies — particularly Congress — have the tools, expertise and resources they need to provide accountability.

The Constitution and the Executive: examining the role of the Constitution, courts and the justice system in oversight and accountability of the executive branch, and how challenges to the rule of law may affect that.

Technology – Information, Surveillance, and Security: examining how emerging technologies have created new and urgent areas for oversight, from how government uses new surveillance tools and predictive algorithms to nefarious abuse of social networking platforms.






8:30 AM
The Constitution and the Executive
Independent Oversight, from Watergate to Today: A Conversation with Michael Horowitz

Room 2ABCD

A white-hot political environment has made routine accountability efforts the subject of blistering attacks from within and outside government. A high-profile project can generate pressure from the public, Congress, and the Administration that Inspectors General (IGs) both serve in and oversee.

In a conversation with POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian, Horowitz will discuss how can IG offices prepare themselves for the scrutiny of a high-profile engagement. What’s the role of Inspectors General in an era of so-called fake news and diminished confidence in other oversight institutions? What do IGs need to do their jobs well today, and how can Congress and civil society support them?  What does the future of independent oversight look like?

Presented by

9:30 AM
Refreshments and Networking
Interlude with Demo: Revolving Door Database
POGO will publicly debut its new Pentagon revolving door database, which tracks former Defense Department officials who have gone on to work for companies with a significant financial interest in the operations of the Department of Defense.
The revolving door of Pentagon officials and senior military leaders seeking lucrative post-retirement jobs often leads to confusing what is in the best financial interests of defense contractors with what is in the best interest of our citizens. POGO’s database is intended to be a resource for journalists, oversight professionals and others to understand the extent and nature of these conflicts.

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9:45 AM
Tech: Information, Surveillance, Security
Oversight of Intelligence and Law Enforcement Surveillance: Technology and Other Challenges

Room 3AB

The panel will explore oversight of surveillance activities by intelligence agencies and law enforcement, including issues such as: the need for greater tech expertise in Congress and other oversight bodies in order to conduct effective oversight; possibilities for civil society and oversight body staff to collaborate to ensure robust oversight; providing oversight and accountability for the use of surveillance technologies by local police departments, which are often purchased with federal funds; how to promote transparency and accountability despite classified information and law enforcement sensitive information; other recommendations for promoting robust oversight in this area, particularly in light of rapidly advancing technological tools for conducting surveillance.

Related content:

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The Constitution and the Executive
We'll See You in Court: Litigation as a Tool for Oversight and Accountability

Room 3C

Litigation can be a powerful mechanism for government oversight, but transparency and accountability cases may face higher procedural barriers than other areas of public-interest litigation. In this panel discussion, experienced litigators will discuss how to effectively lay the groundwork for oversight lawsuits, the substantive and procedural benefits that organizations can obtain from the court action in this area, and risks that such litigation presents. Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, will introduce the discussion.

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Capacity and Capability
Reorganizing the House for Oversight

Room 3DE

A lively discussion about how to improve the rules, resources and practices of the Lower Chamber to improve its ability to conduct meaningful, credible oversight.

Presented by

11:00 AM
Refreshments and Networking
Interlude with Demo: Committee Oversight Hearing Map

The Lugar Center will be demonstrating its new project, an in-depth research project to establish historical norms for the frequency and content of Congressional oversight by committees.

The Lugar Center is creating a centralized, continually-updated historical database of congressional hearings that are categorized based on their relevance to oversight.  This will allow users to see how oversight efforts evolve on any committee, as the chair changes and party control of the White House and Congress change.

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11:20 AM
The Constitution and the Executive
Upholding the Oath: When Duty to the Constitution Conflicts with Following Orders

Room 3AB

What can executive branch employees from entry-level staff to senior appointees do when they receive an order that seems to conflict with the Constitution and the rule of law? Hear from people who’ve experienced this conundrum and been involved in these types of vexing cases. Learn why whistleblower and other related protections are vital not just for employees who raise concerns, but also for the public at large, and why–despite advances in legal protections–the path of dissent is a perilous one, even though it is essential for oversight and accountability.

Related articles:

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Tech: Information, Surveillance, Security
How to Stop Technology from Damaging Democracy

Room 3DE

The Kremlin’s operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election took advantage of numerous vulnerabilities in the United States, including the U.S. government’s unpreparedness to address an asymmetric threat of this nature and tech companies’ failure to anticipate how their platforms could be manipulated to spread disinformation and advance a foreign government’s agenda. As technology rapidly becomes more sophisticated, disinformation could become even harder to defend against, giving foreign actors more tools to use against American democracy. This panel will discuss the structural and policy shortcomings in the public and private sector that have persisted since 2016, allowing foreign actors to continue to undermine U.S. elections and other democratic institutions. It will make recommendations for accountability professionals to ensure the U.S. government and the private sector are taking the necessary steps to close off vulnerabilities that foreign actors continue to exploit.

Related Articles:

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12:30 PM
Refreshments and Networking
Midday Break

A chance to check email and messages, and grab lunch. If you ordered lunch with your registration, you can pick it up at this time outside of the main room (2ABCD). If you did not, you can buy lunch from a nearby take-out or food truck to bring back and eat during the Luncheon Keynote with the Levin Center.

1:00 PM
Capacity and Capability
Luncheon Keynote: The Promise and Practice of Bipartisan, Fact-based Oversight with Carl Levin

Room 2ABCD

Former Sen. Carl Levin will present the first Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight. Following the presentation, Sen. Levin and the award recipient will discuss the promise and practice of bipartisan, fact-based oversight. The discussion will be moderated by Machalagh Carr, Republican General Counsel for the House Ways & Means Committee.  Additionally, Sen. Levin’s former staff director Elise Bean will be signing copies of her book, “Financial Exposure: Carl Levin’s Senate Investigations into Finance and Tax Abuse.”

Presented by

2:10 PM
Capacity and Capability
Supporting the Overseers: The State of Committee Staff and the Legislative Branch Support Agencies


House and Senate legislators need help conducting oversight. This panel examines the capacity of committee staffs and the agencies (CRS, CBO, GAO) that support overseers.


Presented by

Tech: Information, Surveillance, Security
A Conversation with NSA IG Robert Storch

Room 3C

A massive archipelago of secret data collection and storage programs, the National Security Agency presents unique challenges for oversight.  In this session, National Security Agency Inspector General Robert Storch sits for a frank discussion led by Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez to tackle hard questions. The two will be introduced by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s John Fortier.

What challenges does the NSA IG face overseeing one of the world’s most powerful surveillance behemoths? How does the NSA’s IG office have the technical capacity, let alone staffing, to oversee the dizzyingly broad and complicated agglomeration of highly compartmentalized programs? Does the NSA IG have the tools and resources to do the job Americans deserve?

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3:20 PM
Refreshments and Networking
Interlude with Demo: Web Integrity Project

The Sunlight Foundation will be showcasing its Web Integrity Project. The project’s mission is to monitor changes to government websites, holding our government accountable by revealing shifts in public information and access to Web resources, as well as changes in stated policies and priorities.

The project typically works with journalists to make its findings public, and they produce policy analyses to evaluate and recommend changes to Web governance practices and help ensure access to valuable Web resources. In this demo, you’ll see the tools the project uses to monitor tens of thousands of federal Web pages, and the workflow it uses to screen changes they find.

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3:40 PM
Tech: Information, Surveillance, Security
The Failures of Oversight and Election Security: A Conversation featuring Kim Zetter
Room 2ABCD
After the Florida presidential debacle in 2000, Congress took steps to fix the problem. But 18 years later, we’re still facing the same problems, and there’s no movement.
Award-winning investigative journalist Kim Zetter will speak about what she found in the course of reporting her September New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Crisis of Election Security.” Following her presentation, Zetter will be joined for a conversation on the topic by technology and security expert Matthew Blaze, and election law expert Jason Abel. Moderated by POGO’s Justin Rood.
Related articles:

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4:45 PM
Tech: Information, Surveillance, Secuirty
Off The Record Conversation

Room 2ABCD


Award-winning investigative journalist Kim Zetter will speak off the record about oversight of voting machine technology and other technology related oversight questions. This session is closed to media.

5:30 PM

Reception will take place at Toro Toro, on the lower level, at 1300 I Street NW, .3 miles from the summit location.


Testimonials coming soon!


We are proud to partner with these organizations:

We develop comprehensive strategies for government, private sector, and civil society to defend

CLC is adamantly nonpartisan, holding candidates and government officials accountable regardless of

Demand Progress and our more than two million members seek to protect the democratic character of

Levin Center at Wayne Law educates future attorneys, business leaders, legislators and public

The Lugar Center is a platform for an informed debate on global issues.

OTI works at the intersection of technology and policy to ensure that every community has equitable

We lead proactive efforts to make the federal government more effective.

Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan nonprofit with an urgent mission: to prevent our democracy from

R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization.

The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for open

TechCongress gives talented technologists the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in federal

The Summit is made possible with support from:

Conference Archives

Archived footage coming soon!


  • 1100 New York Ave. NW, Suite 200 East, Washington DC, 20005
  • info@pogo.org
  • (202) 347-1122
  • 8:00am - 5:00pm