Accountability

Accountability

Research

Benjamin M. Blau | Oct 24, 2013
This paper analyzes the characteristics of banks that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the recent financial crisis. Using unique data consisting of emergency loan transactions, I provide evidence that larger banks, in terms of assets and market capitalization, were more likely to receive emergency support.
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | Jul 16, 2013
For more than three decades, presidents have instructed executive branch agencies to use the results of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIAs) when deciding whether and how to regulate. Scores from the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card—an in-depth evaluation of the quality and use of regulatory analysis conducted by executive branch agencies— show that agencies often fail to explain how RIAs affected their decisions. For this reason, regulatory reform should require agencies to conduct analysis before making decisions and explain how the analysis affected the decisions.
Timothy P. Roth, Adam C. Smith | Dec 20, 2012
The collapse of the federal budget process and the decline in trust in government threaten the stability of the self-governing republic that we inherited from our nation’s founders. Informed by their moral and political philosophy, we suggest an approach to reforming the budget process aimed at reclaiming that institutional trust. We argue that budget process reform must be animated by two related ideas: First, that post-constitutional statutory law must be impartial, and second, that both citizens and their elected representatives have a right to participate in, and to influence, the political process.
Matthew Mitchell, Nick Tuszynski | Jun 01, 2012
Matt Mitchell and Nick Tuszynski discuss two institutions that have been successful at controlling spending: separate taxing and spending committees, and item-reduction vetoes.
Jerry Ellig, Patrick McLaughlin | Dec 01, 2011
Using data from the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card project and statistics on Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review time from reginfo.gov, we examine whether the quality and use of regulatory analysis vary consistently with OIRA actions.
Lawrence H. White, William Luther | Apr 02, 2011
Economists commonly invoke sovereign powers to explain the acceptance of unbacked paper money at a positive value. The government accepts or compels taxes paid in the money (makes it publicly receivable) or compels creditors to accept it (grants and enforces legal tender status). Thus fiat money is thought to rely on enforcement of a literal fiat or decree. The case of Somalia defies this account: following the state’s collapse in 1991, unbacked paper Somali shillings continued to circulate at a positive value. We explain how historical acceptance, or “inertia,” can sustain the ongoing acceptance of unbacked money even in the absence of ongoing sovereign support. Although sovereign power might be necessary to launch a fiat standard, we conclude that it is not a necessary condition for its survival.

Testimony & Comments

Jerry Brito | Mar 09, 2011
Jerry Brito testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations, and Procurement Reform on open government and government transparency through technology.
Richard Williams | Jul 27, 2010
In this testimony, Richard Williams, Director of Regulatory Studies and Government Accountability at the Mercatus Center, addresses the key question of whether there are sufficient checks and…
Richard Williams, Jerry Ellig, John Morrall | Jul 06, 2010
As always, OMB has produced a very thorough report based on the instructions provided in the Regulatory-Right-to Know Act. Nevertheless, it is time to re-examine this report to see if it can be made…
Veronique de Rugy | Mar 26, 2010
In a testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Mercatus Center's Senior Research Fellow, Veronique de Rugy presented a report on the disbursement of funds authorized…
J. W. Verret | Dec 16, 2009
During the financial crisis of 2008, the federal government used taxpayer funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to buy shares in private firms. In his testimony, Prof. J.W. Verret…
Jerry Ellig | May 05, 2009
Senior Research Fellow Jerry Ellig presents his ideas on outcome-oriented performance measurement in the Recovery Act in this testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology,…

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Aug 12, 2013

When waste, fraud, and abuse in government is exposed, the first response is often that we need more oversight. For instance, when it came to light that millions in farm subsidies were paid to dead farmers, many in Washington, including the Government Accountability Office, blamed the problem on poor oversight.
By Nita Ghei |
Aug 02, 2013

The United States’ financial sector has historically been extremely competitive globally, as is evident from the dominance of Wall Street in world financial markets. This competitive edge, however, can be lost all too easily if destructive regulatory and tax regimes are put into place. Decreasing transparency, increasing probability of bailouts and a higher regulatory burden can all work to erode competitiveness.
Jul 25, 2013

[A] representative of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau testified before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee about the CFPB’s use of Americans’ personal financial data. He reassured Congress that the CFPB “makes every effort to obtain market data in an efficient manner with an eye toward reducing the burden and cost on industry. The bureau also makes every effort to safeguard and protect the information that it does obtain.” In another ironic twist, on the very same day, I happened to receive a letter that makes such assurances sound a bit less comforting. The letter is from the Securities and Exchange Commission—my former employer—warning me that my personally identifiable information, along with that of some other SEC employees, has potentially been compromised.
Jul 23, 2013

While it is too late to save Detroit, it may still be possible to prevent similar disasters from unfolding elsewhere by ending our long-standing practice of putting state and local governments in charge of pensions.
Jul 17, 2013

After years of bipartisan overspending, public debt today—that’s the money that the federal government owes to domestic and foreign investors—is almost 90 percent higher than at the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.
Jul 08, 2013

Politico has an interesting story this morning revealing that defense contractors can do a great deal of lobbying effectively underground because there’s so much confusion surrendering disclosure requirements, to the point where companies can potentially ignore them altogether.

Charts

Experts

Podcasts

Lawrence H. White | October 16, 2013
Lawrence H. White Discusses the Government Shutdown on "To the Point"

Recent Events

With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act the U.S. Congress marked a new strategy in combatting economic uncertainty. In order to make certain that appropriated funds will be spent quickly and wisely, new accountability measures have been incorporated, including the use of Recovery.gov and stringent oversight. Such accountability reforms often focus on holding agencies responsible for producing outcomes - tangible benefits that citizens value. Meanwhile, the United States will run unprecedented budget deficits in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, and possibly into the future as well. When comparing the U.S. fiscal experience with the experiences of other nations, we find that America is also reaching a level of deficit as percent of GDP that prompted other countries to adopt significant rule-changes to promote budget accountability. Discussion on these issues will help ensure that stimulus funds are truly spent wisely and within a responsible budget.

Books

Jerry Brito | Feb 2010
When government refuses to make itself transparent and open and fails to make public information meaningfully available, hackers will liberate the data. It has happened many times over, and it will…

Media Clippings

Keith Hall | Aug 08, 2013
Keith Hall, a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, finds that nearly all jobs created in the past few months have been part-time gigs.
Keith Hall | Aug 07, 2013
[Keith Hall] tells McClatchy newspapers Washington Bureau that 97 percent of net job creation over the last six months has been part-time work.
Patrick McLaughlin | Jul 22, 2013
The researchers examined data from the Code of Federal Regulations and determined that over 7,000 new financial rules were implemented between 1999 and 2008, bringing the total number of regulations to 47,494 just before the crash.
| Jul 19, 2013
"Right now (the standard unemployment rate) is misleadingly low," Hall, now with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told New York Post financial reporter John Crudele.
Keith Hall | Jul 18, 2013
“Right now [it’s] misleadingly low,” says Hall, who believes a truer reading of those now wanting a job but without one to be more than 10 percent.
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