Regulatory Auditing at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Editor’s Note:  The following is the Abstract of a paper posted on New York University’s Law School website.  The complete draft is attached here.

by Alex Acs and Charles Cameron

The  Office of Information  and Regulatory  Affairs  (OIRA), in the  O¢ce  of Management  and Budget, is the locus for centralized presidential efforts to control agency rule-making.  To do so, OIRA selectively audits and then orders revision of the regulations proposed by agencies.  To analyze OIRA’s auditing decision we begin by formally modeling its  strategic  problem.   The  model  distinquishes  situations  when  cost-benefit  analysis  speaks  definitely  and thus constrains the scope for ideology, from those in which it is somewhat ambiguous and thus fails to constrain ideology. In such cases, liberal agencies may be eager regulators and conservative agencies reluctant ones. Auditing strategies for liberal and conservative presidents should reflect these tendencies.  The model also identifies agency responses to auditing regimes:  “deterrence” and “chilling” effects on the production of regulations but also “stimulative” e§ects. We then assemble data on 20,279 proposed rules promulgated by 35 agencies from 1995-2010.  Under Bush, OIRA’s average  of 278 audits  per  year  disproportionatly  targeted  regulations  from liberal  agencies,  particularly  intrusive regulations from those agencies.  Under Clinton, OIRA’s average of 296 audits per year did not display ideological targeting.  Similarly, under Obama, OIRA’s 95 audits per year displayed no ideological targeting.

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