Czar Wars: Sen. Susan Collins voices accountability concerns

Thursday - 9/17/2009, 2:31pm EDT

Sen. Susan Collins

Senator tells FederalNewsRadio the creation of White House "czars" is creating problems "in terms of oversight, accountability, transparency and vetting."

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Who is in charge of your federal department or agency? Are you sure? Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is voicing her concern about 18 "czars" created by the White House.

"What I'm talking about," Collins told FederalNewsRadio, "are officials that are performing functions that traditionally have been performed by the heads of federal departments and agencies. Those positions in the White House that the President is appointing have significant policy responsibility and yet they are unaccountable to Congress."

As an example, Collins told the Federal Drive of a woman who "..is a health care expert, and she actually has had a lot of input into the various bills. She's given advice. She's represented the President at various meetings - she's come to meet with me." She was referring to Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House health czar, not Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"So the question is," said Collins. "Who is the accountable official? This will become a more and more significant question and problem as time goes on. We need clarity in lines of authority. We need accountability and transparency and the proliferation of unaccountable czars undermines the system."

In a letter to the President, Collins and five other Republican lawmakers have called for a moratorium of sorts on creating any more "czar" positions, urging the President to "refrain from creating similar additional positions or making appointments to any vacant 'czar' positions until you have fully consulted with the appropriate Congressional committees."

Currently, Collins said "it seems that our auditors, our inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office over and over again give recommendations to reduce problems, but they're not always followed up on." Without current accountability, Collins implied things can only get worse.

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On the Web:

Sen. Susan Collins - Senators Express Concern with Number of Czars in Administration (press release)

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