CSS Calls for OIRA Reforms to Enable Public Protections Agenda
Editor’s Note: The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) January 8th letter to President Obama discusses a report by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) on the White House’s centralized review of federal regulations and requests that the President “direct OIRA to address concerns about timeliness, transparency and effectiveness in the regulatory review process….” The final ACUS report, “Length of Rule Reviews by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs” provides important insight into how to accomplish CSS’s goal of speeding regulatory review:
Several senior agency employees indicated that OIRA reviews might have taken longer than usual in recent years because OIRA staffing levels had been reduced within the past few years, and as a result, OIRA was less able to turn around rules quickly. One such employee said that OIRA staff are diligent people, and they have to work extremely hard to keep up with all of the requirements placed on them by statute and executive order, and by the White House demands. An employee in another agency said he understood OIRA staff was at an all-time low, and he believed the number of desk officers should be doubled to match the current workload. Such an increase, he said, could pay huge dividends in improving regulatory review.
Thus, the President’s response to the ACUS report and the CSS letter should be to support increased staffing for OIRA.
While recent improvements at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in reducing rule review delays are laudable, we believe that there remain substantial procedural and process issues with respect to the transparency and effectiveness of OIRA’s involvement in the regulatory review process that require fundamental reform.