Coburn laments this trend as another sign that government oversight has declined. “Committee hearings are not the only means of conducting oversight, but they are a prominent tool. Hearings give lawmakers the opportunity to unearth valuable information about federal programs and to question agency officials about the effectiveness of their management of those programs,” his report argues. Bruce Barlett points out that there was a particularly steep decline in House hearings during Newt Gingrich’s tenure as Speaker.