Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight
One of our core values is to promote the development of effective oversight by legislative bodies. The Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight is presented on an annual basis to one or more individuals who have played a central role in an oversight investigation conducted on a bipartisan basis with a dedication to fact-finding.
The award is established, in honor of the work of Senator Carl Levin, to promote bipartisan, fact-based oversight and to recognize those legislators who conduct it. Politically or ideologically driven oversight damages public confidence in government, diminishes legislative comity, distorts public policy and wastes taxpayer dollars. When conducted well, on a bipartisan basis, with a commitment to finding the facts and uncovering the truth, oversight fulfills the checks and balances envisioned by our Constitution, fosters bipartisan legislative relationships, builds public trust in legislatures, and improves public policy and government programs.
Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. The Selection Committee meets each year in November to assess received nominations and make an award decision.
Criteria for Selection
To be selected for the Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight, a candidate must meet and the nomination must address the following criteria:
- The candidate must be or have been a member of a legislative body at the national, state, tribal or local level, and must have played a central role in the conduct of an oversight investigation by such legislative body.
- The oversight investigation must have been conducted on a bipartisan basis and the candidate must have played a significant role in ensuring the bipartisan nature of the investigation.
- The oversight investigation must have been focused on obtaining the facts underlying the subject of the investigation and the candidate must have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to that effort.
- The candidate must have provided recognized and significant leadership in the conduct and achievement of the investigation.
- The candidate must have exhibited a high degree of integrity and a commitment to legislative comity and civility
Past Recipients of the Award
The Levin Center named State Senator Sara Gelser Blouin as the 2021 winner of the Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight.
Senator Gelser was nominated by Oregon Secretary of State Shamia Fagan for her extraordinary legislative oversight work in the Oregon State Senate investigating child foster care contracts and Oregon’s child welfare system at large.
In its deliberations, the award’s Selection Committee recognized the extraordinary efforts made by Senator Gelser to conduct her oversight investigations in a bi-partisan way with full dedication to uncovering the facts. Senator Gelser’s oversight work has already effected substantial changes and improvements in Oregon’s foster care and child welfare system and has recently radiated out beyond Oregon to share her expertise and findings with members of Congress.
The Levin Center at Wayne Law named North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr and Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner as
recipients of the second annual Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight. The award was given to the two senators for their roles as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in conducting the committee’s bipartisan, fact-based investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Through their leadership, Senators Burr and Warner have demonstrated a commitment to the principles of effective oversight that are foundational to the Levin Center and this award,” former Senator and Chair of the Center, Carl Levin, said. “As Chairman and Vice Chairman, they have taken on a matter of fundamental importance to our democracy and issued a clearly written, straight-forward, fact-based report that received broad, bipartisan approval by the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is a noteworthy accomplishment under any circumstances, but it is particularly noteworthy in this deeply partisan era.”
Levin added, “There is no subject more important to this country than the fairness and honesty of our elections, and no greater danger to our elections than to have any foreign country exerting influence on the outcome of our elections. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report clearly spells out the efforts made by the Russian hierarchy to skew the outcome of the 2016 election and raises a needed alarm that similar efforts are still underway. That Senators Burr and Warner were able to achieve unanimous approval of the two volumes of the report issued thus far (with one minority view on Volume 1) which is exactly what our founding fathers had hoped for from Congress.” The relevant committee reports can be found at: https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/publications/report-select-committee-intelligence-united-states-senate-russian-active-measures
Senator Burr was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. In 2004 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He became Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2015. Senator Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008. He became Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017.
State Representative Weston J. Newton (R-SC), was selected for the 2018 Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight for his role as chairman of the South Carolina House Legislative Oversight Committee. Newton of Bluffton, South Carolina, was nominated for the award by South Carolina Speaker of the House James H. (“Jay”) Lucas.
Prior to his election, Newton served as chairman of his local county council for 10 years, bringing a wealth of bipartisan experience to the South Carolina Statehouse. He earned his bachelor’s from Washington and Lee University in 1989 and his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1993. He clerked for both Hon. John H. Waller Jr. and Hon. C. Weston Houck following law school.
Newton will be honored at the first-ever national Oversight Summit on Nov. 16 in Washington, D.C. The summit is hosted by the Project on Government Oversight and sponsored, in part, by the Levin Center at Wayne Law. Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Levin Center at Wayne Law will present the award during a luncheon keynote session, which will be followed by a conversation about how bipartisan, fact-based oversight is possible in today’s political climate.
- Complete biography of Weston J. Newton
- South Carolina House Legislative Oversight Committee
- Levin Center at Wayne Law
- 2018 Oversight Summit
In the news:
- 2018 Carl Levin for Effective Oversight Award Ceremony (C-SPAN2, Nov. 16, 2018)
- Ex-Senator Urges a Return to Bipartisan Oversight (Government Executive, Nov. 16, 2018)
- State Rep. Newton Awarded for Work in Oversight (Bluffton Today, Nov. 19, 2018)