How much does it cost to run the Senate hair salon? Lawmakers say they want to know. Or do they?
Since its earliest days, Congress has been requiring government agencies — and apparently hair salons located in House and Senate office buildings — to produce reports accounting for how they are implementing this or that law, allocating their budgets and the like. You might describe it as lawmakers fulfilling their “oversight” duties. In theory it’s a good thing. But this is Washington, where theory and reality rarely meet.
Congress and federal agencies are notorious for spending money on ridiculous things — from $98,000 outhouses in Alaska to funding studies on the hookah-smoking habits of Jordanian students. But a recent story in The Washington Post about the number of reports mandated by Congress each year further illustrates how government waste and “oversight” are connected.