Order Code RL31455
Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Federal Sunset Proposals:
Developments in the 94th to 107th Congresses
June 17, 2002
Virginia A. McMurtry
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Federal Sunset Proposals:
Developments in the 94th to 107th Congresses
Under sunset, programs and agencies automatically terminate on a periodic basis
unless explicitly renewed by law. Sunset measures typically contain two basic
components: an action-forcing mechanism, carrying the ultimate threat of
elimination, and a framework or guidelines for the systematic review and evaluation
of past performance. In 1976, Colorado enacted the first sunset law, and by 1982, 36
states had some version of sunset. However, state experiences with the sunset review
process have proved mixed, with some states having formally repealed sunset laws
and others having substantially modified the original framework.
Over 70 sunset bills were introduced in the 94th Congress proposing various
sorts of sunset frameworks. Hearings were held both in the House and in the Senate,
and S. 2925 was reported. Over 50 sunset measures were introduced in the 95th
Congress, including S. 2, which passed the Senate 87-1 and would have required all
federal programs except those specifically exempted to be reviewed by Congress at
least once every 10 years according to an explicit schedule that grouped functionally
related activities together. In the House, the “sunrise” approach, which emphasized
clear statements of program goals in new authorizing legislation and detailed
reporting requirements containing performance measures to facilitate congressional
review of programs, developed as a complement to sunset. In the 96th Congress, S.
2, as passed by the Senate in 1978, was reintroduced and again reported. Among 70
other sunset bills introduced was H.R. 5858, which incorporated elements both from
S. 2 and from sunrise proposals and thus was said to represent a “combined
approach” to improved oversight.
Sunset measures continued to be introduced in each Congress, but interest
declined in the 1980s when growing federal budget deficits led to preoccupation in
Congress with appropriations decisions. However, recently sunset has received
renewed attention. In the 1990s, the enactment of various reform laws, such as the
Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (107 Stat. 285, which reflected
aspects of the “sunrise” perspective), evidenced resurgent concern with oversight of
federal programs. In 1998, for the first time since 1982, there was a hearing on a
comprehensive sunset review bill, H.R. 2939, and on April 23, 2002, a House
subcommittee held a hearing on a similar bill, H.R. 2373. Modeled on the Texas
sunset law, it would establish a 12-member bipartisan commission to conduct
systematic reviews of all federal agencies and programs on a 12-year cycle; once the
sunset commission completed review and sent its report to Congress, an agency
would be eliminated within a year or two, unless a reauthorization measure were
enacted. At the 2002 hearing, the witness from the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) testified in support of a sunset review process for the federal government.
While acknowledging possible constitutional issues to be resolved, subsequently
detailed in a letter from the Justice Department, the OMB representative noted that
the sunset commission as outlined in the legislation was similar to the proposal for
a Sunset Review Board endorsed by President Bush during the 2000 campaign.
This report will be updated as events warrant.
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
94th Congress (1975-1976) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
95th Congress (1977-1978) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
96th Congress (1979-1980) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Subsequent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Renewed Interest in Sunset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Congressional Documents Relating to Sunset Legislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Hearings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Reports and Other Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Federal Sunset Proposals: Developments in
the 94th to 107th Congresses
The following discussion begins with a brief consideration of the sunset concept
and its initiation at the state level.1 Attention then turns to the evolution of federal
sunset legislation, with special attention to developments during 1975-1980, which
are reviewed in the context of each Congress (94th, 95th, and 96th). The final section
provides a summary of activity from 1981 to the present (97th into 107th Congresses).
A bibliography on sunset legislation, with citations for related hearings, reports, and
other congressional documents, also is included.2
According to one definition, sunset is “the popular name for a statute which
provides for the periodic termination of government agencies unless they are able to
justify their existence.”3 The idea of sunset thus stresses legislative oversight of
government agencies, so as to further economy and efficiency and control the growth
of government, or “bureaucratic sprawl.”4 Sunset measures typically contain two
basic components: an action-forcing mechanism, carrying the ultimate threat of
elimination, and a framework or guidelines for the systematic review and evaluation
of past performance. With sunset, programs and agencies automatically terminate
on a periodic basis unless explicitly renewed by law. Termination of budget
authority for a program or agency after a specified time is perhaps the most
commonly employed mechanism. Other possible action-forcing tools include
periodic expiration of the organic statute establishing an agency, or of the rules and
regulations issued by an agency. Ideally, the timetable for review places functionally
related programs on the same schedule.
For a short fact sheet on the subject of sunset review, see CRS Report RS21210, Sunset
Review: A Brief Introduction, by Virginia A. McMurtry.
In conjunction with deliberations on H.R. 2939 (105th Congress), the Federal Sunset Act
of 1998, the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and
Technology requested that CRS prepare a statement covering the background and history
of federal sunset legislation. With the permission of the subcommittee, contents from that
previous memorandum have been revised and incorporated into this report.
Anthony R. Licata, “Zero Base Sunset Review,” Harvard Journal on Legislation, vol. 14
(April 1977), pp. 505-506.
See: Canada, Library of Parliament, Legislative Research Service, Sunset: Theory and
Practice, by David Pond, Current Issue Paper no. 114 (Ottawa: March 1991), p. 1.
Perhaps the first example in federal legislation of the nascent sunset concept
occurred in the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA).5 The sunset
provision in FACA called for the termination of each advisory committee after a twoyear period, unless some other duration was provided in statute, or unless it was
formally renewed (for another two years).
The sunset idea was refined and popularized by the Colorado chapter of the
public interest group Common Cause, as a consequence of the frustrations
experienced in efforts to reform Colorado’s regulatory structure. Perhaps borrowing
from the western imagery of the cowboy riding off into the sunset, agencies subject
to sunset provisions were to “fade into the sunset,” unless, following oversight
review, the legislature acted to extend their existence. Or sunset might be viewed as
the inescapable “end of the day” for terminated agencies.
However, the basic rationale underlying the sunset concept was not new. In a
1976 article by Bruce Adams (then with Common Cause), the sunset mechanism was
commended as having the potential “to provide the incentive and the discipline
necessary to motivate public officials to increase program evaluation,” but its roots
were traced back at least to the Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Former Justice William O. Douglas, then chairman of the Securities and
Exchange Commission, proposed to President Roosevelt that every agency
should be abolished within ten years of creation. The prophetic Douglas
suggested that otherwise the regulatory agencies would be captured by the very
industries they were established to regulate. According to Douglas: “Roosevelt
would always roar with delight at that and of course never did anything about
In 1976, Colorado became the first state to enact a sunset law. By 1982, sunset
measures had been considered in all 50 state legislatures, and 36 states had enacted
some version of the sunset review process, “representing a remarkably rapid diffusion
of a state innovation.”7 However, state experiences proved to be mixed. By 1990,
12 of the 36 states with sunset laws had “ceased the use of this legislative oversight
mechanism because of high monetary and temporal costs of sunset review, intensive
lobbying by vested interests, unfulfilled expectations of agency termination, low
levels of citizen participation, and other perceived problems.” Still, the study stated,
“Results indicate that sunset has resulted in some agency terminations and, more
importantly, numerous substantive, procedural, and crosscutting modifications aimed
at increasing accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in state agencies.”8
According to a survey conducted in 1992 by the National Conference of State
Legislatures (NCSL), states reporting satisfaction and success with sunset have
P.L. 92-463; 86 Stat. 770.
Cited by Bruce Adams in “Sunset: A Proposal for Accountable Government,”
Administrative Law Review, vol. 28 (Summer 1976), p. 520.
Richard C. Kearney, “Sunset: A Survey and Analysis of the State Experience,” Public
Administration Review, vol. 50 (Jan./Feb.1990), p. 49.
tended to adapt the process so as to “[s]hift the emphasis away from occupational
licensing and regulatory boards to major state agencies, downplay the goal of
terminating agencies, use sunset to conduct program evaluation, and commit
sufficient staff resources to conduct the thorough reviews of agency operations.”9
“Unintended consequences” of sunset have proved significant, as legislatures expand
and sharpen oversight capabilities when the lawmakers come to realize that
eliminating agencies need not be the only measure of sunset’s effectiveness. In
addition, for some states, sunset provides the primary mechanism for conducting
program evaluation. However, the ultimate threat of termination, even if infrequently
employed, continues to give the sunset review process special clout.
Since 1978, biennial editions of The Book of the States, compiled by the Council
of State Governments (COSG), have included a table titled “Summary of Sunset
Legislation.” States having a sunset review process are identified by scope of the
framework: C for comprehensive, R for regulatory, S for selective, and D for
discretionary. A careful assessment of the table found in the latest edition, for 20002001 and based on a January 2000 COSG survey, would suggest 23 states with an
active sunset review process still in force.10
The most recent data available on the status of sunset review in the states derive
from a “mini survey” of states, and were presented at the annual meeting of the
NCSL in August 2001.11 According to that compilation, based on 45 responses, 16
states reported a sunset process still operational, while 16 reported previously having
a sunset law, but added that it had been repealed or suspended, or had become
inactive. Of the 16 reporting a terminated or inactive status for the state sunset
process, 8 responded that it had been replaced by some other type of legislative
oversight review. The “replacements” for sunset create difficulty in arriving at an
David McNeely, “Is the Sun Setting on the Texas Sunset Law?” State Legislatures, May
1994, p. 19; comments attributed to Nancy Rhyme, NCSL.
Council of State Governments, The Book of the States, 2000-01 Edition, vol. 33,
(Lexington, KY: 2000), pp. 123-125. The 23 include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine,
Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,
Washington, and West Virginia. A quick reading of the column called “coverage”suggests
26 states with sunset provisions. However, Kentucky, coded as having sunset for regulatory
agencies but with no provision for automatic termination, is not counted. Likewise,
Vermont, coded as selective but without apparent automatic termination, is not counted, nor
is Virginia, for which conflicting codes are entered in the table. The entry for South
Carolina was incorrect, however; see footnote 12 below.
The Sunset Process: Still Effective After All These Years?, NCSL Annual Meeting, San
Antonio, TX, Aug. 2001, “Introduction,” by moderator Rob Krell. Slides of the presentation
are available online at [http://www.ncsl.org/programs/nlpes/training/annmeet/annmt01/
krell/sld001.htm]. Site visited Apr. 23, 2002. The mini survey was conducted via e-mail
and telephone by Robert Krell, research analyst on the staff of the Joint Legislative Audit
and Review Committee in Washington state, during July-Aug. 2001.
Mr. Krell provided the author with electronic files of the handout from the 2001
presentation and also with a spreadsheet of the responses to the survey. The latter allowed
identification of responses from the respective states. The slides and handout from the
annual meeting session provide only summary figures.
accurate count of states that have a sunset-type process in place, since it may no
longer be called sunset. For example, one state indicated that “while the formal
sunset process was terminated, ‘repealer dates’ are often included in legislation, with
a formal review sometimes preceding termination.” Another state reported that while
the formal sunset process was terminated, “sunset-like evaluations are still done.”
In attempting to arrive at the most appropriate tabulation of state sunset laws,
absent a new comprehensive survey, one can compare the data in 2000-2001 COSG
table with that in the spreadsheet underlying the 2001 NCSL study, with reference
to the more detailed Kearney study, published in 1990, for additional background.
Such an approach arrives at the following distribution in 2002: at least 18 states have
active sunset laws, at least 13 states have repealed, suspended, or inactive sunset
laws, while 13 states never enacted sunset laws.12 This leaves six states in a residual
group of “maybes.”13 Five of the six “maybes”are states that repealed or substantially
modified their original sunset law, but replaced it with some other framework for
relatively systematic oversight review.14
The record of the sunset process in Texas is of special interest, both because it
is generally recognized as one of the more successful state efforts and because recent
federal legislative proposals borrow from that model. When reviewing the
accomplishments of sunset in Texas, it is well to recall that the Texas Sunset
States with active sunset laws include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado,
Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee,
Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. States that never enacted sunset laws include:
Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New
Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. States with terminated or
inactive sunset laws include: Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North
Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and
Wyoming. South Carolina requires special mention; while it was entered as having an
active sunset law in the 2000 COSG table, the data for South Carolina are identified as
coming not from the January 2000 survey, but from the prior one in 1998. The response for
South Carolina in the 2001 NCSL survey falls in the “terminated less than five years ago”
category; further research confirmed that the SC sunset law was recently repealed (in 1998).
States placed in the group of “maybes,” with terminated or substantially modified sunset
laws replaced by some framework for evaluation reviews, include: Connecticut, Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas.
The “maybes” also tended to be viewed differently in the COSG and NCSL compilations;
they were often labeled as having an “active” sunset law by the COSG table (which did not
always differentiate between classification of states with original sunset law active as
compared with terminated/replaced framework in use), while the Krell survey generally
identified such instances more accurately, as sunset terminated but then replaced. States
identified as “terminated/inactive” in the COSG survey, but “terminated/replaced” in the
Krell survey, were not included here (Mississippi and New Hampshire). In some instances
one source or the other notes that the evaluation component continues as before, but without
the automatic termination provision, thereby lacking a key element of a “true” sunset law
(Georgia, Indiana, Kansas). Finally, Illinois is placed with the “maybes” because of
discrepancies between the NCSL data (respondent answered state never had a sunset law,
while the more thorough 1990 study listed Illinois as then inactive); the 2000-2001 COSG
table lists Illinois as having an active sunset law.
Advisory Commission, while ultimately saved by its friends in the Texas legislature,
was nearly abolished in 1993.15 The web site of the Texas advisory commission
offers a 70-page Guide to the Texas Sunset Process and reports that since the sunset
process began in 1978, “44 agencies have been abolished and another 11 agencies
have been consolidated.”16 Data are also presented on the fiscal impact of sunset in
Estimates from reviews conducted between 1982 and 2001 indicate a potential
19-year revenue generation savings of $719.9 million, compared with
expenditures of $16.94 million for the Sunset Commission. Based on these
estimates, every dollar spent on the Sunset process earns the State $42.50 in
94th Congress (1975-1976)
Interest in federal sunset legislation emerged and grew quickly during the 94th
Congress, when many bills were introduced, proposing various types of sunset
arrangements.18 The first federal sunset bill, S. 2067, limiting the period of
authorization of new budget authority and requiring comprehensive review and study
of existing programs for which continued budget authority was proposed to be
authorized by committees of Congress, was introduced by Senator Joseph Biden (DDE) on July 9, 1975. In the Senate, attention came to focus on S. 2925, the
Government Economy and Spending Reform Act, a bill “to provide for the
elimination of inactive and overlapping federal programs, to require authorizations
of new budget authority for government programs and activities at least every four
years, to establish a procedure for zero-based review and evaluation of government
programs and activities every four years and for other purposes.” Senator Edmund
Muskie (D-ME) introduced S. 2925 on February 3, 1976, with a bipartisan group of
six cosponsors, including Senators William Roth (R-DE), John Glenn (D-OH), Henry
Bellmon (R-OK), Walter Huddleston (D-KY), Sam Nunn (D-GA), and Barry
There were seven days of hearings on S. 2925 and S. 2067 by the Subcommittee
on Intergovernmental Relations of the Senate Government Operations Committee in
March and April of 1976. In an opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Muskie
See McNeely, “Is the Sun Setting on the Texas Sunset Law?” for an account of that
debate. This journalist/author covered politics in Austin for over 30 years.
State of Texas, Sunset Advisory Commission, Guide to the Texas Sunset Process, Oct.
2001, p. 11, available online at [http://www.sunset.state.tx.us], visited April15, 2002.
Ibid. Additional insight on the Texas experience was provided by a commission staffer
at the NCSL 2001 annual meeting, referenced above. See “Talking Points of Ken Levine,”
Assistant Director, Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, available at
visited April 23, 2002.
This discussion of legislative history borrows heavily from the author’s previous CRS
work. Data for the original research were derived from searches in the computerized
databases for the respective Congresses, available through the former SCORPIO system at
the Library of Congress, and from tracking of bills in the Congressional Record.
noted that his support for sunset tied in with his brief, but intense, experience on the
newly created Budget Committee, which brought him to the realization that budget
reform must not be viewed as an end in itself, but as part of a broader effort. He
I have come to believe that no matter how successful the new budget process is,
the statement of national priorities which is the Federal budget will not be
complete until Congress improves control over the services which the budget is
intended to buy. S. 2925 has been offered as a framework through which
Congress can begin to exert such control.19
Senator Roth, the ranking minority member on the subcommittee, voiced a concern,
also mentioned by others, as a reason to support sunset — the proliferation of federal
During the past decade Congress in its desire to address national legislative
priorities has enacted hundreds of new programs aimed at specific social or
economic problems. Each program has added new legislative objectives, more
spending and an administrative apparatus in the executive branch to achieve the
legislative purpose set forth. While each of these programs may have
considerable merit, and while much of our spending for national needs is well
spent, the practical effect of this proliferation of programs has been chaos.20
As the lead-off witness for the Senate hearings in 1976, Roy Ash, former
director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also considered it
noteworthy that S. 2925 “follows hard on the heels of the highly desirable reforms
made in the congressional budget processes.” He testified further:
Authorizing programs and appropriating money is not enough....
For each program the simple questions to be kept in front of us are: What
are we trying to accomplish? How much will it cost? Is it worth it? Are we
actually accomplishing what we intended? Should we change something in order
to achieve a better match of objectives and results?
This is the closed circle model of program management in its essence.21
After acknowledging his full agreement with the principles and philosophy
underlying S. 2925, Ash offered some suggestions for improving the mechanisms
involved. In so doing, his testimony provided a preview of the 33 witnesses who
followed; almost everyone supported sunset principles, but had some problem with
details of the procedural framework, i.e., sunset mechanics. For example,
Comptroller General Elmer Staats and others from the General Accounting Office
(GAO) supported the purposes of sunset, but then provided detailed comments on
possible technical problems and raised concerns with workload issues, for tasks
assigned in the bill to GAO, as well as for congressional committees.
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Government Operations, Government Economy and
Spending Reform Act of 1976, hearings on S. 2925 and S. 2067, 94th Cong., 2nd sess., Mar.
1, 18-19, 24-25; Apr. 6-7, 1976 (Washington: GPO, 1976), p. 2.
Ibid., pp. 7- 8.
Ibid., pp. 15-16.
In May of 1976, the subcommittee considered the sunset bills and voted
favorably to refer S. 2925 to the full committee. The Senate Government Operations
Committee then voted unanimously to report S. 2925 favorably, with additional
amendments, on August 4, 1976. The bill, as reported, retained its two key sunset
components: termination of federal programs unless periodically reauthorized,
coupled with mandatory review of programs, grouped functionally, by congressional
committees. Specifically, the measure directed the compilation of an inventory of all
federal programs, established a multiyear schedule for review of programs grouped
by functional budget categories, and prohibited the obligation or expenditure of new
budget authority for any program not specifically reauthorized under the sunset
rubric. However, significant changes occurred as a result of full committee
amendments, including extending the review and termination cycle from four to five
years; extending the coverage of the sunset review process to tax expenditure
provisions; and adding a new title to create a temporary, Hoover-type commission
to study the organization of the government and recommend program changes,
consolidations, and eliminations.
On the day it was reported from the Senate Government Operations Committee,
S. 2925 was re-referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration and to the
Committee on Finance. Following a hearing on September 8, 1976, the Rules
Committee voted unanimously to report the bill without recommendation on
September 20. As explained at the beginning of the report, “the Committee is
reporting S. 2925 without prejudice, but is strongly advising the Senate that much
more time than is available in this Congress should be devoted to the consideration
of this apparently desirable, but most far-reaching proposal.”22
At the beginning of September 1976, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield
(D-MT) announced the leadership’s intention to consider S. 2925 on the floor later
in the month. The bill, by this time, had 55 cosponsors. However, given the
numerous reservations on procedural grounds outlined in the report of the Senate
Rules Committee and other concerns expressed by the Finance Committee, along
with the shortness of time remaining in the session, it was ultimately decided not to
schedule floor action on the bill.
In the House, during the 94th Congress, H.R. 12055, a companion bill to S. 2925,
was introduced by Representative Stephen Neal (D-NC) on February 24, 1976, and
referred to the Rules Committee, but no further action occurred on it. The House
Rules Committee did hold a hearing on a related bill, H.R. 11734, dealing with zerobase budgeting. The Task Force on the Budget Process of the House Budget
Committee also held three days of hearings during the summer of 1976 on zero-base
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, Government Economy
and Spending Reform Act of 1976, report to accompany S. 2925, 94th Cong., 2nd sess.,
S.Rept. 94-1263 (Washington: GPO, 1976), p. 1.
95th Congress (1977-1978)
Over 50 sunset bills were introduced in the 95th Congress. In the Senate,
attention centered on S. 2, a bill similar to S. 2925, as reported in the 94th Congress.
Senator Muskie again introduced the bill, but this time there were 41 cosponsors at
the outset, and eventually 62 Senators signed on as cosponsors, spanning a wide
ideological spectrum. The short title of S. 2, as introduced, was “Sunset Act of
1977,” but it was changed more than once during subsequent consideration in the
Senate. The Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations held six days of
hearings on S. 2 in March 1977, and on April 28, 1977, voted favorably to refer the
bill, as amended, to the full committee. Action by the Governmental Affairs
Committee occurred on June 28, 1977, and concluded with a unanimous vote to
report the bill favorably, with additional amendments, including renaming it as the
“Program Evaluation Act of 1977.” One amendment relating to the review and
evaluation provisions reflected compromise between those who contended that sunset
must be comprehensive and those who argued that, to be effective, sunset must be
Under Title I, all programs which are to be reauthorized must first be
reconsidered by the authorizing committees with an eye toward answering certain
basic questions about the program. Under Title III, the Senate and House
committees can select from among these programs a few which they believe
ought to receive special attention. Thus, the bill guarantees that the application
of the sunset process can be both comprehensive in its requirement for
reauthorization and selective in the program areas subject to intensive
Other amendments to S. 2 adopted by Governmental Affairs lengthened the sunset
review cycle to six years, deleted the title covering tax expenditure provisions,
exempted regulatory functions and the federal judiciary from sunset review, and
added language protecting civil rights enforcement.
By unanimous consent, the Senate then re-referred S. 2 to the Committee on
Rules and Administration on July 20, 1977. The committee commenced hearings on
September 28, 1977, and established a working group consisting of staff from the
various Senate committees to consider S. 2 and S. 1244 (the reintroduced Biden bill,
which limited all authorizations to a duration of four fiscal years, except in special
circumstances, and required comprehensive review and extensive reports by
committees before they authorized new budget authority). The staff working group
met regularly over a period of several months, and their recommendations were
published as a committee print. Key features in their draft measure, titled “Senate
Program Review Reforms of 1978,” included requirements for Senate committees
to study all programs falling under their jurisdiction and draw up 10-year plans to
review all significant programs, and to publish review schedules for each session.
In addition, for each new or reauthorized program, committees were to specify the
program objectives, review criteria and techniques, and review necessary
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Program Evaluation Act of
1977, report to accompany S. 2, 95th Cong., 1st sess., S.Rept. 95-326 (Washington: GPO,
1977), p. 7.
performance data. These latter review requirements reflected the influence of H.R.
10421, as well as S. 2 and S. 1244. Introduced by Representative Butler Derrick (DSC), this “sunrise” approach emphasized clear statements of program goals in new
authorizing legislation and detailed reporting requirements containing performance
measures to facilitate congressional review of programs.24 (Since many bills came
to incorporate features of both sunrise and sunset, the sunset label is generally used
in discussions to encompass all such related legislative measures.)
On April 19, 1978, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee resumed
hearings and turned to the recommendations of the staff working group. At this
point, the committee also requested another study, by the Comptroller General, to
review the various alternative proposals for sunset and program review. At a hearing
on June 8, with the GAO report now in hand,25 the Rules and Administration
Committee requested that GAO staff, along with representatives of Senator Muskie
and of Senator Biden, meet and draft a compromise sunset bill agreeable to all of
them. On June 21, 1978, the Rules Committee met to mark up S. 2 and, by a vote of
5-2, reported favorably “S. 2, as amended by the committee substitute which had
been previously amended by the committee.”26 Among many significant changes in
S. 2, as reported by the Rules Committee, the reauthorization schedule was
lengthened to 10 years (five Congresses). A contemporaneous article appearing in
Congressional Quarterly provided this perspective on the Rules Committee’s
consideration of sunset legislation in the 95th Congress:
In 1977 S. 2 had little trouble winning approval from the Governmental
But Muskie could not persuade Rules Committee Chairman Howard W.
Cannon, D-Nev., to set a deadline for committee action. Cannon opposed
automatic termination of federal programs, which Muskie considered the heart
of the bill.
When Cannon moved over to chair the Senate Commerce Committee in
1978, Muskie found a more sympathetic leader on Rules. But the new chairman,
Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., still took several months to move S. 2 through
Supporters of sunset in the Senate faced additional challenges once the Rules
Committee had reported S. 2, as amended. Apparently, both Majority Leader Robert
Byrd (D-WV) and Majority Whip Alan Cranston (D-CA), among others, still had
reservations about sunset, and wanted to see some further changes in S. 2. According
to the same Congressional Quarterly article, they
CRS Report 79-152, Sunset and Program Review Legislation: Some Congressional
Options, by Judith H. Parris, pp. 7-8.
U.S. General Accounting Office, Congressional Oversight Reform Proposals, GAO
Report PAD-78-73 (Washington: June 8, 1978).
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, The Program
Reauthorization and Evaluation Act of 1978, report to accompany S. 2, 95th Cong., 2nd sess.,
S.Rept. 95-981 (Washington: GPO, 1978), p. 36.
“Muskie’s Sunset Odyssey: How He Finally Got a Vote,” CQ Weekly Report, vol. 36, Oct.
14, 1978, p. 2951.
were concerned that procedures established by the committee bill would make
some federal spending programs highly vulnerable to presidential vetoes or
To calm these fears — and get his bill scheduled — Muskie devised a
procedural safety valve that would allow Congress to vote for continued funding
of a program one year past its sunset date if the program’s reauthorization bill ran
up against a veto or a filibuster.28
Following further negotiations, Senator Muskie introduced an amendment in the
nature of a substitute for S. 2, on September 26, 1978. However, by this time,
supporters of S. 2 found themselves in the same position as Senate sunset proponents
in the 94th Congress: fierce competition to bring a bill to the floor in the final days of
the session, especially for a measure on which the House had yet to act. Three days
before a scheduled adjournment, on October 11, 1978, opportunity came for Senate
floor action; with an agreement in place for limited debate and more than half the
Senators as cosponsors, the Senate passed S. 2 by a vote of 87-1.
As passed by the Senate, S. 2 would have required that all federal programs,
except those specifically exempted, be reviewed by Congress at least once every 10
years, on an explicit schedule. To that end, the bill would have:
made it out of order to consider authorizations longer than 10 years;
linked reauthorizations to the schedule by making it out of order to
consider authorizations beyond a program’s next scheduled
established a new “required authorization,” enacted at least once
every decade under sunset procedures;
required that a program’s authorization be enacted before its
appropriation was in order;
required permanent appropriations to cease if their programs were
not reauthorized under sunset procedures;
made any appropriation out of order whose bill or report did not cite
the required authorization;
required congressional committees to include a “reauthorization
review,” answering basic questions about the bill, in any report filed
under sunset procedures;
required the Comptroller General and the director of the
Congressional Budget Office, in cooperation with the director of the
Congressional Research Service, to prepare, under direction from
congressional committees, an inventory of specified information
regarding federal programs (as background for sunset reviews);
provided that proposed changes in the sunset schedule would be
referred sequentially to the authorizing committees and rules
established detailed procedures for committees to select programs
and conduct comprehensive reexaminations;
required agencies to submit reports on programs at least six months
before sunset review deadlines;
exempted from sunset review: interest on the federal debt, Social
Security and federal retirement and disability programs, Medicare,
civil rights programs and enforcement, judicial administration,
veterans’ benefits, and income tax refunds;
established an expedited and privileged “required reauthorization
waiver resolution” to prevent termination of a program by veto of,
or extended debate on reauthorization;
provided for submission of agency budget requests and supporting
materials at the request of any congressional committee;
authorized (but not required) establishment of a Citizens’
Commission on the Organization and Operation of Government.
The Senate also approved five floor amendments to S. 2 that would have required:
(1) presidential regulatory duplication and conflicts reports concerning programs
scheduled for sunset review; (2) committee reports on cost effectiveness of programs
undergoing sunset reauthorization; (3) a foresight reporting provision in committee
review; (4) inclusion of 16 major regulatory agencies in sunset review; and (5) a
presidential management report at the beginning of each Congress rating programs
as excellent, adequate, or unsatisfactory.29
There were over 140 cosponsors of the various versions of sunset bills in the
House during the 95th Congress, and two subcommittees had hearings. The House
Subcommittee on Legislation of the Government Operations Committee held a oneday hearing on sunset legislation on October 17, 1977. Then, in 1978, the Rules
Subcommittee on the Rules and Organization of the House held several days of
hearings on bills relating to congressional procedures, including some sunset bills.
On October 12, 1978, following Senate passage, S. 2 was referred in the House
jointly to the committees on Government Operations and on Rules, but no further
96th Congress (1979-1980)
Congressional interest in sunset and sunrise measures continued in the 96th
Congress. In the Senate, S. 2 was reintroduced with the same bill number; the only
change was an updating of the program review schedule. A similar bill was
introduced in the House, as H.R. 2. The House version of sunset, however, included
tax expenditures along with spending programs in the review process. The sunrise
bill, known as the Legislative Oversight Act of 1979, was reintroduced by
Representative Derrick as H.R. 65; and a companion bill in the Senate, S. 1304, was
introduced by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).
In the House, the newly created Subcommittee on the Legislative Process,
chaired by Representative Gillis Long (D-LA), began hearings on sunset, sunrise, and
related bills, which had been referred to the Rules Committee, in April 1979. In
addition to several days of hearings, the subcommittee prepared and circulated an
“Program Reauthorization and Evaluation Act of 1978,” debate in the Senate,
Congressional Record, vol. 124, Oct. 11, 1978, pp. 35463-35531.
extensive questionnaire to House committees, soliciting views on the impact of the
proposed bills on their work. Representative Long recounted the work of the
subcommittee in a statement, accompanying the introduction of H.R. 5858, the
Sunset Review Act 1979, which he sponsored, along with Representative Derrick,
on November 9, 1979. The bill was characterized as a “combination” approach to
improved oversight, borrowing both from sunset (H.R. 2) and sunrise (H.R. 65):
From H.R. 2, we adopted the idea of an oversight agenda, and the role given
committees in setting review priorities. From H.R. 65, we included the
establishment of performance measures. From both bills, we included the
compilation of a program inventory....
Most important, no program or tax expenditure will terminate
automatically. Committees will have the opportunity to conduct a thorough
review, and the Congress will have the opportunity to vote on committee
recommendations. This feature allows us to include all programs and tax
expenditures without exemptions. 30
The subcommittee referred H.R. 5858, as amended, back to the full Rules Committee
on May 6, 1980, but no further action occurred in the House in the 96th Congress.
In the Senate, the Governmental Affairs Committee held seven days of hearings
on sunset during June, July, and September 1979. On June 17, 1980, the committee
voted favorably to report S. 2, with further amendments. Among the changes
approved by the committee were the addition of expedited procedures for
consideration of sunset reauthorization bills, simplification of reporting requirements,
and addition of the decennial census and patent protection programs to the list of
those exempted from sunset review.
Of special interest, in light of legislative developments in the House, the Senate
Governmental Affairs Committee added a new title to S. 2, to be called “Sunrise,”
and embodying two basic features: “(1) Congress should state specific legislative
objectives when enacting new legislation or reauthorizing existing programs”; and
“(2) Agencies should report back to Congress on their success in reaching specified
program objectives.”31 Specifically, the provision made it out of order to consider
legislation authorizing new budget authority for a program unless the measure
contained the sunrise requirements. In language prescient of a framework eventually
refined and enacted in the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the
report accompanying S. 2 in 1980 further described the new sunrise title:
The Title requires that objectives, planned accomplishments and information
reporting requirements shall be stated in such terms as will require the agency or
agencies administering the program to provide concise measures of all of the
costs and accomplishments of the program. Agencies would also be required to
compare the costs and accomplishments of the program to those of other
Rep. Gillis Long, “H.R. 5858, Sunset Review Act of 1979,” remarks in the House,
Congressional Record, vol. 125, Nov. 9, 1979, p. 31813.
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Sunset Act of 1980, report
to accompany S. 2, 96th Cong., 2nd sess., S.Rept. 96-865 (Washington: GPO, 1980), p. 8.
governmental and non-governmental programs having similar or related
On July 24, 1980, S. 2 was reported from the Senate Governmental Affairs
Committee. The following day, July 25, 1980, S. 2 was referred by unanimous
consent to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, with instructions to
report back by September 4, 1980. On August 20, the Rules and Administration
Committee held another hearing, and on September 4, 1980, the committee agreed
to report S. 2, with further amendments. The substitute version more closely
resembled H.R. 5858 than it did the original S. 2, and it never reached the floor. As
characterized in the 1980 CQ Almanac:
“Sunset” legislation, once a great bipartisan hope for reining in the
galloping growth of federal bureaucracy in the 96th Congress, faded in the 96th
The bill’s failure was forecast when the Senate Rules Committee voted
Sept. 4 to recommend a substitute for the sunset bill that vitiated most of the
strength of the original proposal (S. 2), which mandated review of most
government programs every 10 years before they could be continued.
The revised version still carried the name “sunset” but removed the
elements which the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee called the key to the
bill. No governmental programs would have to be reviewed; no programs would
die automatically if not reauthorized. Committees would be free to choose the
programs they wished to review, subject to the approval of the appropriate house
In short, the sun would set only when Congress said it should.33
Although the action by the Senate in passing S. 2 in 1978 ultimately proved to
be the closest Congress ever came to enacting a federal sunset law, sunset measures
during this period received continuing support from the Carter Administration.
Candidate Jimmy Carter endorsed the idea of sunset laws during the 1976 campaign
and reaffirmed this commitment on various occasions. For example, in his 1979
State of the Union address, he stated:
My Administration will again work with the Congress to enact a sound sunset
bill. Under such a bill, each Federal program would have to be carefully reexamined on a periodic basis to determine whether its continued existence is
justified. Through such a procedure, the American people can be assured that
unnecessary government programs and agencies will be ended, rather than
continued through the force of inertia; and other programs and agencies will be
Later, in the spring of 1979, as the House Rules Committee commenced hearings on
sunset legislation, President Carter issued a statement in support of sunset review
legislation (and H.R. 2 specifically), noting, in part:
“Sunset Legislation,” Congressional Quarterly Almanac, vol. 36 (1980), p. 530.
U.S. President (Carter), “The State of the Union,” Public Papers of the Presidents, 1979,
vol. I, p. 129.
Too many Federal programs have been allowed to continue indefinitely without
examining whether they are accomplishing what they were meant to do. The
country’s needs and priorities change, and we must assure that Government
programs change with them. Along with civil service reform, reorganization,
zero-based budgeting, and regulatory reform, sunset will help make the
Government more efficient, more economical, and more responsive. That is why
I have long supported the sunset approach.35
Sunset measures have continued to be introduced in every Congress from the
97th through the 107th. There were additional hearings by the House Rules
Subcommittee on the Legislative Process in 1981-1982. However, interest in sunset
measures declined in the 1980s when growing federal budget deficits led to
preoccupation in Congress with appropriations decisions. As a result, the
authorization phase of the budget process, so central to the sunset framework,
received relatively less attention.
In the 1990s, the environment was changing. Enactment of various government
reform laws, such the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993,36 evidenced
resurgent concern with oversight of federal programs. For the first time in many
years, the federal budget showed a surplus for FY1998. Such circumstances, with
deficit reduction no longer the overriding preoccupation in the budget process,
arguably allowed more time for consideration of authorization bills, along with the
annual appropriations measures.
Renewed Interest in Sunset
Accompanying these developments, there appeared to be a renewed interest in
the sunset concept. For example, at the end of 1997, an article appeared in Insight
on the News, titled “Sunset Bills Rise over Capitol Hill.”37 The next year, for the first
time since 1982, there was a congressional hearing on a comprehensive sunset bill,38
held toward the end of the 105th Congress, by the House Subcommittee on
Government Management, Information, and Technology.39
Ibid., pp. 941-942.
P.L. 103-62; 107 Stat. 285.
Tiffany Danitz, “ Sunset Bills Rise over Capitol Hill,” Insight on the News, vol. 13, issue
48 (Washington: Dec. 29, 1997), p. 16.
In the 104th Congress, there were hearings on a selective regulatory sunset measure,
however. See U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight,
H.R. 994 ,the Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 1995, hearings before the Subcommittee
on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources., and Regulatory Affairs, 104th Cong., 1st
sess., Mar. 28 and May 2, 1995 (Washington: GPO, 1997). For further discussion of H.R.
994, see Congressional Quarterly, CQ Almanac, vol. 51, 1995, pp. 3-7.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee
The bill that furnished the focus of the hearing in 1998, H.R. 2939, “To provide
for the periodic review of the efficiency and public need for federal agencies, to
establish a commission for the purpose of reviewing the efficiency and public need
of such agencies, and to provide for the abolishment of agencies for which a public
need does not exist,” was introduced by Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), and
eventually had more than 80 cosponsors. Modeled on the state sunset process in
Texas, the bill called for establishment of a 12-member “Federal Agency Sunset
Commission” to review and make recommendations at least every 12 years regarding
the reorganization or abolishment of each federal agency, with the schedule for
review to be determined by the commission. The Speaker of the House and the
majority leader of the Senate were to appoint the members, each naming four
congressional members and two private citizens “with experience in the operation
and administration of Government programs.” Each agency was then to be abolished
no later than a year after completion of the review by the commission, unless
Congress acted to continue the agency. Criteria for review by the commission were
set forth, including the extent to which the agency was complying with the provisions
of the Government Performance and Results Act.
At the hearing on H.R. 2939, held on September 14, 1998, testimony was
received from Congressman Brady and other Members in support of the bill, from
Patricia Gray, then Vice-Chair of the Texas Sunset Commission, and from Edward
DeSeve, OMB’s Acting Deputy Director for Management.
Ms. Gray stressed that sunset is a process rather than an event. Her statement
provided examples of how sunset had been used as a tool for uncovering fraud,
waste, and abuse. She also noted the value of sunset reviews in locating duplication
of services as well as highlighting discrepancies and gaps in services. In sum,
according to Ms. Gray, “the sunset process is an efficient way to respond to increased
public demand for accountability from elected officials.”40
Mr. DeSeve, from OMB, testified that the Clinton Administration opposed the
bill. In their view, the provisions of H.R. 2939
raise serious constitutional concerns, are counterproductive to many recent
improvements Congress and the administration have made to support government
reform and accountability, and duplicate existing structures for evaluating agency
performance on the part of authorizing and appropriating committees of
Congress, as well as by the executive branch.41
Arguably the most serious criticism of the bill raised at the 1998 hearing
concerned potential constitutional problems with the commission framework. An
on Government Management, Information, and Technology, H.R. 2939, Federal Sunset Act
of 1998, hearing before subcommittee, 105th Cong., 2nd sess., Sept. 14, 1998 (Washington:
Ibid., p. 48.
Ibid., p. 39.
advisory opinion from the Department of Justice provided for the record referenced
the INS v. Chada decision by the Supreme Court in 1983, and concluded:
Because this bill [H.R. 2939] would allow the abolishment of a statutorily
created executive agency, not through legislation passed in conformity with
Article I, but at the discretion and in accordance with a timetable imposed by a
twelve-member Commission composed of eight members of Congress and four
persons selected by the Speaker of the House and the majority leader, unless
Congress affirmatively decides to adopt legislation preserving the agency, it
violates the constitutionally required separation of powers.42
Similarly, examination of the bill by the American Law Division of the
Congressional Research Service ended with this view:
As noted above, the statutory scheme proposed by the Federal Sunset Act [H.R.
2939] is suspect due to the circumvention of the bicameralism and presentment
requirements of Article I. In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in INS v. Chada
and subsequent cases, it seems that the Federal Sunset Act, in its present form,
constitutes an impermissible assignment of legislative authority and will not
survive constitutional scrutiny.43
In the 106th Congress, Congressman Brady, along with 92 cosponsors,
introduced H.R. 2128, a revised version of the sunset commission legislation. This
new bill contained provisions not found previously in H.R. 2939. First, a new
subsection was added under “Review and abolishment of federal agencies” relating
to extensions that would have allowed the deadline for abolishment of the agency,
absent congressional action to reauthorize it, to be extended for an additional two
years if approved by a super-majority of the House and the Senate. Second, a new
section was added providing for compilation by the three congressional support
agencies of a “Program Inventory.” In language reminiscent of federal sunset
measures dating back to the 1970s, the section would have directed the Comptroller
General of the General Accounting Office and the Director of the Congressional
Budget Office, in cooperation with the Director of the Congressional Research
Service, to prepare an inventory of federal programs within each agency for the
purpose of advising and assisting Congress and the commission in carrying out the
requirements of the act.
On June 28, 2001, Congressman Brady, with 33 cosponsors, reintroduced
virtually the same bill, now called the Abolishment of Obsolete Agencies and Federal
Sunset Act of 2001, in the 107th Congress as H.R. 2373. On April 23, 2002, the
House Government Reform Subcommittee on Civil Service, Census, and Agency
Organization held a hearing on H.R. 2373, at which Representative Brady and
Representative Jim Turner (D-TX), who had both served in the Texas legislature,
testified in favor of the bill. Unlike the OMB representative of the Clinton
Letter from William Michael Treanor, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, dated Sept. 21,
1998. See ibid., pp. 53-54.
CRS Memorandum, Constitutionality of H.R. 2939, by T. J. Halstead, p. 4 (prepared Oct.
26, 1998, at the request of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight;
used with permission of the committee).
Administration in 1997, the witness from the Office of Management and Budget,
now representing the Bush Administration, testified in general support of a sunset
review process for the federal government. While acknowledging possible
constitutional issues to be resolved, subsequently detailed in a letter from the Justice
Department,44 the OMB spokesman noted that the sunset commission as outlined in
the legislation was similar to the proposal for a Sunset Review Board that President
Bush endorsed during the 2000 campaign. Further, according to the testimony from
OMB, a sunset review process could tie in with the President’s Management Agenda,
particularly in the government-wide initiative for budget and performance
integration.45 Three witnesses from the private sector also testified in favor of the
The initial enthusiasm with which the sunset review process was greeted in the
1970s has been tempered by mixed experiences in the states. From a high of 36
states with some sort of sunset process in the early 1980s, the number has declined
to fewer than 20 that have indisputable sunset review provisions still operating in
2002. Of course, from the outset, sunset laws varied greatly among the states in
terms of comprehensiveness (types of agencies or programs covered), as well as
regularity (reviews on a predictable, fixed schedule versus sporadic evaluations).
The record of the sunset process in Texas is of particular interest, because sunset
review there is considered among the most expansive in the nation. According to a
presentation at the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting in 2001,
“Overall, the sunset review process has been very successful in Texas, due to several
factors including strong legislative support and the fact that all state agencies are
subject to this type of review.”47 In assessing whether sunset remains an effective
and necessary tool, Ken Levine (Assistant Director, Texas Sunset Advisory
Commission), suggested looking at whether the sunset review makes government
“work better, smarter and faster,” saves money, and continues “to challenge the status
quo and eliminate bureaucratic inertia.”48 As noted already, recent federal bills
borrow from the Texas model, and President Bush has endorsed sunset review in
Texas as a successful approach that should be initiated as well at the federal level.
Daniel J. Bryant, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, letter to Rep. Dave
Weldon, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Service, Census and Agency
Organization, Apr. 23, 2002. Copy provided to author by subcommittee staff.
Testimony of Mark W. Everson, Controller, Office of Federal Financial Management, and
pending nominee for Deputy Director for Management, OMB, before House Subcommittee
on Civil Service, Census and Agency Organization, Apr. 23, 2002.
These included witnesses representing two groups, the National Taxpayers Union and
Citizens Against Government Waste, and a researcher from the Cato Institute.
The Sunset Process: Still Effective After All These Years? NCSL Annual Meeting, San
Antonio, TX, Aug. 2001. From summary of panel, available at [http://www.ncsl.org/
programs/nlpes/training/annmeet/annmt01/sunset01.htm], visited Apr. 23, 2002.
Ibid., “Talking Points,” by Ken Levine, slides available at [http://www.ncsl.org/programs/
nlpes/training/annmeet/annmt01/levine-sunset01.htm], visited Apr. 23, 2002.
Several states have modified their sunset frameworks to remedy initial
problems, and experiences with sunset review have led to unanticipated
consequences. For example, experience with sunset led Colorado, the state that
pioneered the process, to expand its legislative oversight function, as lawmakers
came to realize the eliminating agencies was not the only measure of sunset’s
Another state that significantly revamped its sunset process is Washington. As
originally established in 1977, the process focused mainly on minor or inactive
programs, so most sunset studies had little impact. Performance was also often
difficult to assess due to lack of measures or data. The sunset process was scheduled
to expire in June 2000, but rather than terminating it, the decision was make to
streamline and strengthen the process. The new law sought to place greater
responsibility on agencies to demonstrate performance results, by requiring them to
submit performance measures and data collection plans to the Joint Legislative Audit
and Review Committee (JLARC).49
A comprehensive sunset law for the federal government has been the subject of
continuing interest for nearly three decades. Most recently, there was a hearing by
a House subcommittee in April 2002, but such a legislative proposal has progressed
no further than passage by one house (the Senate, in 1978). However, as noted
above, the 1993 enactment of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
evidenced a renewed concern with oversight of federal programs.
GPRA joined a number of other budget and financial management reform laws
designed to upgrade existing procedures or to provide new mechanisms for managing
government operations and improving transparency.50 In addition to their impact on
executive management and accountability, these statutes provide new or enhanced
data and information about federal programs and performance. In turn, they establish
new mechanisms and means for congressional oversight, or “the review, monitoring,
and supervision of the implementation of public policy.”51
At the recent hearing on H.R. 2373, the OMB representative referred to the
President’s Management Agenda, and the initiative directed to budget and
performance integration, with the related aim of improving programs by focusing on
results. He noted OMB’s ongoing effort to assess program effectiveness and further
observed, “The Sunset Review Board or Commission we contemplate would provide
additional support, tangible recommendations pertaining to the assessment process,
Ibid., “Improving the Sunset Process in Washington State,” by Val Ogden. Slides
available at [http://www.ncsl.org/programs/nlpes/training/annmeet/annmt01/ogdensunset/
sld001.htm], visited Apr. 23, 2002. Since the plans are to be submitted to the JLARC in
advance, the revised framework also reflects the sunrise perspective.
For example, the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, the Government Management and
Reform Act of 1994, and the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996. For
discussion of these laws, see CRS Report RL30895, General Management Laws: A Selective
Compendium — 107th Congress, coordinated by Ronald C. Moe.
CRS Report RL30240, Congressional Oversight Manual, by the Congressional Research
Service, p. 1.
and increase the credibility of this important effort.”52 As exemplified in the new
Washington state sunset law, a sunset review process at the federal level arguably
might be used to complement ongoing efforts to enhance program evaluation through
better performance measures and improved data.
Testimony of Mark W. Everson, before House Subcommittee on Civil Service, Census
and Agency Organization, Apr. 23, 2002.
Relating to Sunset Legislation
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on the Budget. Task Force on the Budget
Process. Zero-base Budget Legislation. Hearings, 94th Cong., 2nd sess.
Hearings held June 30, July 27-28, 1976. Washington: GPO, 1976.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations. Subcommittee on
Legislation and National Security. “Sunset” Legislation. Hearings on H.R.
1756 and related bills, 95th Cong., 1st sess. Hearing held Oct. 17, 1977.
Washington: GPO, 1977.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology.
H.R. 2939, the Federal Sunset Act of 1998. Hearings, 105th Cong., 2nd sess.
Hearing held Sept. 14, 1998. Washington: GPO, 1998.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and
Regulatory Affairs. H.R. 994, Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 1995.
Hearings, 104th Cong., 1st sess, Hearings held March 28 and May 2, 1995.
Washington: GPO, 1995.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Rules. Sunset, Sunrise, and Related
Measures. Hearings on H.R. 5858, part 2, 96th Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held
Nov. 29, Dec. 5, 1979. Washington: GPO, 1980.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Rules. Subcommittee on the Legislative
Process. Congressional Oversight of Federal Programs. Hearings, 97th Cong.
1st and 2nd sess. Hearings held July 13; Sept. 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16; Nov. 2, 17,
1981; March 24, April 21, 1982. Washington: GPO, 1982.
——. Sunset, Sunrise, and Related Measures. Hearings on H.R. 2 and H.R. 65, 96th
Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held April 4; May 10, 23; June 6, 20; July 13, 30;
Nov. 12, 1979. Washington: GPO, 1980.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Rules. Subcommittee on the Rules and
Organization of the House. Hearings on Congressional Procedures. Hearings
on various bills, 95th Cong., 2nd sess. Hearings held June 23, July 31, 1978.
Washington: GPO, 1978.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Sunset Act of 1979.
Hearings on S. 2 and S. 1304, 97th Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held June 7, 12-14;
July 12, 24; Sept. 13, 1979. Washington: GPO, 1979.
——. Sunset for Regulatory Agencies. Hearings on S. 445 and Title V of S. 2, 96th
Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held May 23, June 15, 1979. Washington: GPO, 1979.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Subcommittee on
Intergovernmental Relations. The Regulatory Reform Act of 1977. Hearings on
S. 600, 95th Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held May 23-June 8, 1977. Washington:
——. The Sunset Act of 1977. Hearings on S. 2, 95th Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held
March 22-24, 28-30, 1977. Washington: GPO, 1977.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations. Subcommittee on
Intergovernmental Relations. Government Economy and Spending Reform Act
of 1976. Hearings on S. 2925 and S. 2067, 94th Cong., 2nd sess. Hearings held
March 17-19, 24-25, April 6-7, 1976. Washington: GPO, 1976.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Rules. Government Economy and Spending
Reform Act of 1976. Hearing on S. 2925, 94th Cong., 2nd sess. Hearing held
Sept. 8, 1976. Washington: GPO, 1976.
——. Program Evaluation Act of 1977 and Federal Spending Control Act of 1977.
Hearings on S. 2 and S. 1244., 95th Cong., 1st sess. Hearings held Sept. 28,
1977; April 19, June 8, 1978. Washington: GPO, 1977.
Reports and Other Documents
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 1995. Report to accompany H.R. 994.
104th Cong., 1st sess. H.Rept. 104-284, part 1. Washington: GPO, 1997.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on the Judiciary. Regulatory Sunset and Review
Act of 1995. Report to accompany H.R. 994. 104th Cong., 1st sess. H.Rept.
104-284, part 2. Washington: GPO, 1995.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Rules. Subcommittee on the Legislative
Process. A Compilation of State Sunset Statutes, with Background Information
on State Sunset Laws. Staff report, issued as subcommittee print, 97th Cong.,
1st sess. Washington: GPO, 1981.
——. A Compilation of State Sunset Statutes, with Background Information on State
Sunset Laws. Staff report, issued as subcommittee print, 98th Cong., 1st sess.
Washington: GPO, 1983.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Program Evaluation
Act of 1977. Report to accompany S. 2. 95th Cong., 1st sess. S.Rept. 95-326.
Washington: GPO, 1977.
——. Sunset Act of 1980. Report to accompany S. 2. 96th Cong., 2nd sess. S.Rept.
96-865. Washington: GPO, 1980.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations. Government
Economy and Spending Reform Act of 1976. Report to accompany S. 2925.
94th Cong., 2nd sess. S.Rept. 94-1137. Washington: GPO, 1976.
——. Study on Federal Regulation, vol. II, Congressional Oversight of Regulatory
Agencies. Committee print. 95th Cong., 1st sess. Washington: GPO, 1997.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations. Subcommittee on
Oversight Procedures. Congressional Oversight: Methods and Techniques.
Committee print. 94th Cong., 2nd sess. Washington: GPO, 1976.
——. Legislative Oversight and Program Evaluation. Seminar sponsored by
Congressional Research Service. Committee print. 94th Cong., 2nd sess.
Washington: GPO, 1976.
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Rules and Administration. Government
Economy and Spending Reform Act of 1976. Report to accompany S. 2925.
94th Cong., 2nd sess. S.Rept. 94-1263. Washington: GPO, 1976.
——. The Program Reauthorization and Evaluation Act of 1987. Report to
accompany S. 2. 95th Cong., 2nd sess. S.Rept. 95-981. Washington: GPO,
——. Recommendations for Improving Program Review by Senate Committees.
Report of the Staff Working Group on S. 2 and S. 1244. Committee print. 95th
Cong., 2nd sess. Washington: GPO, 1978.
——. The Sunset Act of 1980. Report to accompany S. 2. 96th Cong., 2nd sess.
S.Rept. 96-924. Washington: GPO, 1980.