Archive for January, 2012

Regulatory Reform Progress

From: OMB

by Cass Sunstein

To promote economic growth and job creation, we need cost-justified, evidence-based regulation. Which is why, almost exactly a year ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order calling for a government-wide review of regulations to reduce costs, to eliminate unnecessary burdens, and to get rid of what the President has called “absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”  Twenty-six executive agencies produced final plans, spanning over 800 pages and offering more than 500 proposals. Sixteen independent agencies followed suit, responding to a historic request from the President to eliminate unjustified costs on their own.

Regulation Takes Center Stage in State of the Union Address

From: RegBlog

by Sam Saylor

In his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama emphasized government’s role in building a stronger, fairer economy. He specifically argued that regulation can “make the free market work better.”  

Laying blame for the 2008 financial crisis and resulting economic downturn in part on “regulators [that] had looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior,” the president emphasized the need for strong regulatory oversight of the financial sector. Claiming that passage of Dodd-Frank will ensure that “a crisis like that never happens again,” Obama  also announced that his administration will be creating a new Financial Crimes Unit within the Department of Justice, and he called on Congress to pass legislation increasing penalties for financial fraud. 
Although defending the need for “smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior,” President Obama acknowledged that “some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly.” He asserted that his administration approved fewer regulations in its first three years than his predecessor did during the same period of time. 
He lauded his administration’s initiative, under Executive Order 13,563, ”to eliminate rules that don’t make sense.”  As an example, he touted his EPA’s decision to exempt milk from oil spill regulations.
But the president also defiantly defended strong environmental and other regulations:
I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.
The president supported the safe harvesting of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing but announced that he is “requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use.”  
Obama also called for “a smarter, more effective government.”  He repeated his request that Congress give him more  authority to reorganize federal agencies, claiming this will enable him to create a bureaucracy that “is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.”
Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana provided the Republican rebuttal to Obama’s address. Emphasizing the ballooning federal debt, Daniels deplored a “big and bossy” government that under the Obama administration has “held back rather than sped economic recovery.” 
Daniels criticized President Obama and Democrats for assuming that without government’s “benevolent protection” citizens would “pick the wrong health insurance, the wrong mortgage…and the wrong light bulb,” an apparent jab at the Affordable Care Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Dodd-Frank Act, and the phaseout of incandescent lightbulbs called for by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. 
Daniels argued for a government that would “serve the people rather than supervise them.”

Congressional Letter to OIRA re: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Regulatory Review

Attached below is a letter from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Issa and the Chairman of the Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Health Care, Rep. Gowdy, to OIRA Administrator Sunstein.  The letter asked a series of twenty-five questions regarding the Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIAs) for eight regulations promulgated under PPACA.  The regulations were the subject of analyses by the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center which asserted that the RIAs were defficient.

Congressional Letter to OIRA: 2012-01-10_DEI_and_TG_Letter_to_OIRA_Administrator_regarding_PPACA_regs

Mercatus Center analysis of PPACA Regulations

OMB Memorandum M-12-08: Principles for Federal Engagement in Standards Activities to Address National Priorities

Attached below is a joint Memorandum from OIRA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the United States Trade Representative on federal involvement in voluntary consensus standards activities.  The document supplements the guidance in OMB Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.”




Turning Reports into Results: Leveraging the Jobs Council Roadmap to Improve Federal Regulations

PR Newswire: news distribution, targeting and monitoring  

Turning Reports into Results: Leveraging the Jobs Council Roadmap to Improve Federal Regulations 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The White House Jobs Council’s Roadmap to Renewal provides a basis for achieving the regulatory relief America needs to create jobs and economic growth. 

Another major regulatory reform report, a Special Edition of the Administrative Law Review (ALR) featuring recommendations from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ former leaders and managers based on OIRA’s 30th Anniversary Symposium, provides a crucial complement to the White House report.

Reports in Washington, however, too often gather dust instead of spurring needed action. 

Heritage Foundation on Jobs Council Report

Obama to Obama Jobs Council: I Disagree

by J.D. Foster, Ph.D.

President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness released its third report January 17 entitled “Road Map to Renewal,” a worthy description of serious issues affecting the American economy coupled with set of proposals that, with few exceptions, can best be described as pretty thin gruel.

The council—chaired by Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chairman and CEO of GE—was obviously constrained in many cases by political considerations imposed on it either by the Obama Administration or by itself as it recognized the political season.

Harvard law prof Sunstein and Steve Jobs bio author Isaacson were eyed for domestic policy shop

From: Washington Post/In the Loop

By Al Kamen

Obama domestic policy chief Cecilia Munoz, formerly head of White House intergovernmental affairs, is moving from her fine southeast corner office on the second floor of the West Wing all the way over to the northeast corner office.

Unclear who gets her old job, but the early soundings are that it will likely be someone already in the administration, since that, all things considered, would make for a smoother transition.

A Year of Rethinking Regulations

From: HuffPost

Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore*

Imagine you’re the CEO of a major national corporation with two million employees and 312 million customers. Now imagine having no consistent plan to revisit past decisions to determine what worked and what didn’t.

That’s how our government behaved until a year ago when President Obama put new rules in place to require review of past regulations — a process with the potential to make the government smarter. Businesses should be pleased since, in practice, this process has mostly meant the snipping away of red tape.

Roy Ash, Powerful Budget Director for Nixon, Dies at 93

Editor’s Note:  I had the good fortune of working with Roy Ash–one of the most capable public servants I ever met.


From: New York Times



Roy L. Ash, who used tough-minded analytic acumen to build a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, Litton Industries, and to become a force in the Nixon White House, where he headed the creation of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, died on Dec. 14 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.

The cause was Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Lila, who confirmed the death on Thursday. It was not announced at the time.

Good government means untangling regulation language

Editor’s Note:  A recording of the broadcast interview may be found here.

From: 1500AM

Almost a year ago, President Obama signed an executive order telling agencies to write their regulations in plain English, so members of the public could participate in the regulatory process. The administration is now requiring that agencies put the bottom line up front when they publish complicated rules, in the form of an easy-to-understand executive summary. The guidance comes in one of two new memos just distributed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.