n Journal of Public Administration - Complexities of the oversight role of legislatures

Volume 47, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The legislative branch of government is responsible for law making, exercising oversight over the executive, facilitating public participation and promoting cooperative governance. Legislatures are mandated to ensure that laws passed are properly implemented to address the needs of the citizens. This is a crucial role of legislative oversight. In order to legitimise this important role of the legislatures, some conditions must be met. For example, there needs to be a certain degree of cooperation between the branches in policy making (each side must be willing to bargain and compromise in order to get some policy benefits), the legislature must have some capacity to monitor the executive, and the executive needs to be willing to comply with legislative enactments. In this article, it is argued that these conditions have not always applied in the legislative arena. Since legislative oversight is viewed as a key agency of democratic legitimacy, the article recommends a tightening of the oversight mechanisms employed by the legislatures. The article is grounded on the following definition of oversight: "the review, monitoring and supervision of government and public agencies, including the implementation of policy and legislation". It examines the complexities of the oversight role of legislatures in the quest for balancing power relations between the legislatures and the executive.

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