Problem detection in legislative oversight: An analysis of legislative committee agendas in the U.K. and U.S.

Shaun Bevan, Will Jennings, Mark Pickup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper outlines a dynamic problem-detection model of legislative oversight where legislative committees engage in information-gathering to identify emerging policy problems. It is argued that activities of legislative committees are responsive to indicators of problem status across a range of policy domains. This enables committees to react to problems before, or at least simultaneously to, citizens. Our analyses use a new dataset on the policy agenda of UK Parliamentary Select Committees in combination with directly comparable data on US Congressional hearings. Aggregate measures of problem status (e.g. GDP, crime rates) and public opinion on the ‘most important problem’ facing the country are used as independent variables. The comparison between a well-established and developing committee system offers insights into common dynamics across institutional contexts. The findings show that committee agendas in both the UK and US are responsive to problem status for the majority of issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1560
Number of pages1578
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number10
Early online date17 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • agenda-setting
  • congressional hearings
  • legislative oversight
  • problem detection
  • select committees


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  • CAP: Comparative Agendas Project

    Bevan, S., Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B., Walgrave , S. & Green-Pedersen, C.

    1/01/93 → …

    Project: Research Collaboration with external organisation

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