Oversight of the US executive: The Congressional experience and its lessons for the EU
Author: Cornelia Klugman
This analysis presents the results of original research done on the US’s system of oversight. It is based in particular on a series of 44 interviews with policy practitioners, including members of Congress, assistants to members of both houses of Congress, as well as persons working in the Congressional support agencies, the US Administration, think-tanks and academia.
OIRA, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Executive Office of the President, sets out guidance for agencies and departments on how to conduct an RIA and reviews significant rules. OIRA work cuts across policy areas and analyses possible points of conflict between proposed rules or between a proposed rule and the Administration’s general policies. A former OIRA employee considers that OIRA’s main contribution in this process is to ‘suggest a regulatory alternative that had not been previously considered by the regulatory agency’. OIRA also develops surveys with statisticians that can feed into RIAs.
Moreover, OIRA has only 42 full-time staff. With such low staff numbers having to cover all policy areas, it does not seem surprising that businesses, citizens and Congress frequently complain about a lack of regulatory coherence.