Influence and the Administrative Process: Lobbying the U.S. President’s Office of Management and Budget

All administrative processes contain points of entry for politics, and the U.S. President’s use of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review government regulations is no exception. Specifically, OMB review can open up a pathway for interest groups to lobby for policy change. We theorize that interest group lobbying can be influential during OMB review, especially when there is consensus across groups. We test our argument with over 1,500 regulations written by federal agencies that were subjected to OMB review utilizing a selection model. We find that lobbying is associated with change during OMB review. We also demonstrate that when only business groups lobby, we are more likely to see rule change; however, the same is not true for public interest groups. We supplement these results with illustrative examples suggesting that interest groups can, at times, use OMB review to influence the content of legally binding government regulations.

Professor Radin on OIRA.

Professor Radin has just published an informative article on OIRA.


This article focuses on one expression of the relationship between science and policy analysis: the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget. It has used a classic policy analysis technique—cost–benefit analysis—as the way that the White House will review regulations. This discussion highlights the utilization of the cost–benefit method in the OIRA decision-making process, the roles of various actors in the system, and the response to that use by various policy actors. It illustrates the difficulty of utilizing rational analytical methods in an environment of political conflict.

Republicans fret ‘midnight regulations’ from Obama

Editor’s Note: The Obama Administration’s January 20, 2009 Memo by the Chief of Staff on (Midnight Regulations) is available here and the follow-up January 21, 2009 Memo from the Director of OMB implementing the Chief of Staff’s Memo is available here, both courtesy of TheOMB.US. A report prepared by a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, “Midnight Rules: A Reform Agenda” is available here.

From: The Hill

By Tim Devaney

Republicans are sounding the alarm about a deluge of  “midnight regulations” that could be pushed through agency pipelines the waning days of the Obama administration.

Why the Disdain of Centralized Regulatory Review by Academicians?

The concept—but not the execution—of centralized regulatory review is the product of an academician; why nearly five decades after its birth are legal academicians still flailing over its execution?

One line of thought is that many academicians believe centralized regulatory review, which allows for the review of an agency regulation by officials in the Executive Office of the President, is a dangerous usurpation of the authority vested in federal agencies which are creatures of the Congress. Another line of thought could be traced to a statement made by a recognized attorney who practiced before federal agencies and who once remarked to a meeting of leading law professors: “Either you are not teaching administrative law or I am not practicing it because nothing you teach resembles what I practice.”

An Elephant Without Legs: GOP subpoenas Obama regulatory officials on water rule

Editor’s Note: It is a well established principle that documents sent to OIRA are part of the deliberative process and therefore need not be released to the Congress. Administration’s of both parties have made this point repeatedly and it has withstood judicial review.

From: The Hill

Timothy Cama

House Republicans moved Tuesday to force the Obama administration to disclose certain documents related to the development of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) major water jurisdiction rule.

The House Oversight Committee sent a subpoena on the rule to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is responsible for reviewing all major federal regulations before they are issued.

University of California Dissertation on OIRA Support of the Presidency

Ms. Janna Rezaee has written a dissertation on OIRA which differs remarkably from many  of the previous articles on the institution. More specifically a number of the studies to date emphasize  OIRA’s role as  policing the rulemaking process for ineffective rules. In this instance, however, the author focuses on OIRA’s role as supporting (“subsidizing”) the policies of the Presidency.

A major conclusion is:

OMB Pushes Interagency Collaboration to Modernize Statistics

From: Government Executive

By Charles S. Clark

Agencies should get together to more efficiently update the government’s array of statistics, the chief of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs said on Wednesday.

In a memo to agency heads, OIRA administrator Howard Shelanski said he “strongly encourages” agencies to use such tools as the Economy Act and the General Services Administration’s category management program to improve the quality of federal statistics.

Read Complete Article

Sunstein: Justice Scalia is right about cost-benefit analysis

Editor’s Note: For information on the origins of OMB review of independent agency regulatory actions, see the 1987 National Journal article here.

From: The Salt Lake Tribune

By Cass Sunstein Bloomberg View

Last week’s Supreme Court decision striking down a federal regulation on mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants is a temporary setback for those who seek to reduce air pollution. At the same time, however, it should be welcomed as a ringing endorsement of cost- benefit analysis by government agencies. It’s a kind of rifle shot, with potentially major effects on a host of future regulations that have nothing to do with the environment. (Disclosure: As administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012, I worked on the regulation that the court invalidated.)

OMB: Climate Change Now Part of Building Budget Requests

Editor’s Note: Information on OIRA’s estimate of the Social Cost of Carbon is available here. A cost-effective climate change policy option is available here.


By Erika Morphy

WASHINGTON, DC—Shortly before Washington DC officialdom departed for the July 4th weekend, the Office of Management and Budget announced it would be requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of climate change on the construction and maintenance budgets for federal facilities in fiscal year 2017.

It is a first for the agency.

The news was released in a blog post by Ali Zaidi, OMB’s associate director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science.