Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 11: Public Expenditures

Chapter 11. Records of the Government Operations Committee and Its Predecessors

Table of Contents

Records of the Government Operations Committee and Its Predecessors, 1814-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committees discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Public Expenditures (1814-80)

11.26 There are records for this committee for the entire period of its existence.

Records of the Committee on Public Expenditures, 13th-46th Congresses (1814-80)

Record TypeVolume Dates (Congresses)
Minute Books2 volumes1865-71 (39th-41st), 1877-80 (45th-46th)
Docket Books3 volumes1861-79 (37th-45th)
Petitions and Memorials2 inches1815-17 (14th), 1839-43 (26th-27th), 1847-49 (30th)
Committee Papers3 feet1814-17 (13th-14th, 1819-23 (16th-17th), 1827-33 (20th-22nd), 1839-45 (26th-28th), 1847-49 (30th), 1959-61 (36th), 1863-65 (38th), 1871-73 (42d), 1875-77 (44th)
Total volume3 feet and 5 volumes 
Records Summary Table

11.27 Docket books show the status of legislation and topics of committee interest. Occasionally, remarks are noted, which, in some instances, actually are minutes of meetings.

11.28 Petitions and memorials are sparse. Calls in 1842 for "retrenchment and reform" in Congress and in the executive departments comprise most of the petitions and memorials (27A-G19.1).

11.29 Committee papers indicate the wide variety of activities that the committee reviewed or investigated to see if they were being conducted in an economical and efficient manner. For example, in 1822 and 1828 the committee conducted surveys to determine whether governmental departments were structured in a manner that facilitated reviews for accountability (17A-C22.1, 20A-D19.1). In 1841, the committee reviewed contract procedures to determine what benefits, if any, executive departments derived from the requirement that they accept the lowest bids for printing services and stationery supplies (26A-D22.1).

11.30 Many matters relating to military procurement practices came within the committee's purview. Among the committee papers are records relating to an 1816 inquiry into the procurement practices of General William Henry Harrison in 1813-14 (14A-C13.1); an 1817 review of expenditures, including wartime contracts (14A-C13.2); and an 1844 inquiry into financial mismanagement by the commanding officer of the Florida Squadron during 1841-42 (28A-D24.1). Also included are records of three investigations of the financial affairs of military officers in 1842 (27A-D18.1, 27A-D18.2, 27A-D18.3).

11.31 Committee papers concerning activities of civil agencies include records relating to an investigation of contracts for mailbags (27A-D18.5); a review of the expenditures on repairs, alterations, and improvement of the White House in 1842 (27A-D18.6); reports in 1848 on the Secretary of Treasury's annual report (30A-D19.1) and in 1860 on public printing (36A-D20.1); and a review of the operations of the New York Customhouse (38A-E18.1).

11.32 The committee papers also include records created in 1831 and 1832 when the committee attempted to develop a better system for estimating the distance Members traveled to Congress (21A-D20.1, 22A-D20.1).

Table of Contents

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.