Let the Sunshine In

From: The White House

Posted by Cass Sunstein, Chris Vein

This week is Sunshine Week, a joint project of the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  Held in mid-March, Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote discussion about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

The theme of this year’s Sunshine Week is “Put Sunshine in Your Government,” and so now is an appropriate time to reflect on the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to open government over the past three years, and more particularly to provide an update on implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government.

Who Regulates the Regulators?

From: Mercatus Center

Please join the Mercatus Center’s Regulation University and GMU School of Law professor Todd Zywicki for a course on who regulates government regulators.

Several key debates this year will focus on the economic impact of federal regulations. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is pleased to offer a series of courses designed to help congressional staff better understand the regulatory process. Specifically, these classes will provide staff with the concepts and skills necessary to conduct informed regulatory oversight.

The second course in this series will examine the degree to which executive branch and independent agencies are subject to checks and balances on their regulatory authority, and explore:

ACUS Considers Changes to the PRA

The issue of whether Information Collection Requests (ICRs) should continue to be subject to two public comment periods under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) is being deliberated by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). The appropriate number of ICR comment opportunities has been a subject of debate for a number of years and ACUS should be applauded for addressing this matter in an analytical fashion.

Regulations.gov: Remaking Public Participation

From: OMB/Cass Sunstein

On January 18, 2011, the President issued Executive Order 13563, in which he directed regulatory agencies to base regulations on an “open exchange of information and perspectives” and to promote public participation in Federal rulemaking.  The President identified Regulations.gov as the centralized portal for timely public access to regulatory content online. 

In response to the President’s direction, Regulations.gov has launched a major redesign, including innovative new search tools, social media connections, and better access to regulatory data.  The result is a significantly improved website that will help members of the public to engage with agencies and ultimately to improve the content of rules.

Deleting regulations: Of Sunstein and sunsets

From: The Economist

Many barriers impede regulatory reform. The poor quality of the laws Congress produces is among the biggest

CHEERS greeted Barack Obama’s hiring of Cass Sunstein away from the University of Chicago. Mr Sunstein, a lawyer, now head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is in charge of lifting the heavy hand of regulation from America’s economy. Known for his clever economics, Mr Sunstein favours a “libertarian paternalism”; policies that nudge, but do not force, people to do the right things. For example, making people opt out instead of opting in to pension plans makes many more sign up, to their benefit. And Mr Sunstein has been involved in redesigning dietary recommendations and fuel-efficiency stickers for cars, making formerly confusing information more useful.

Measuring the impact of regulation: The rule of more

From: The Economist

Rule-making is being made to look more beneficial under Barack Obama

IN DECEMBER Barack Obama trumpeted a new standard for mercury emissions from power plants. The rule, he boasted, would prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma cases. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reckoned these benefits were worth up to $90 billion a year, far above their $10 billion-a-year cost. Mr Obama took a swipe at past administrations for not implementing this “common-sense, cost-effective standard”.

ALR Symposium w/ Cass Sunstein


Dear Public,

On behalf of the Administrative Law Review, we would like to cordially invite you to attend our February 17, 2012 symposium, titled Interbranch Control of Regulation: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Mechanisms of Influence, and Agencies’ Responses.  We have organized an exciting program that will explore a number of unique facets of regulatory law, and we have the honor of hosting U.S. Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein as our keynote address.  We hope you can find the time to attend. 

Obama Rulemaker: $25B Outweighed by Benefits

From: Bloomberg News

By Mark Drajem and Elizabeth Dwoskin

Regulations approved by President Barack Obama over the first 32 months of his term cost businesses an estimated $25 billion, more than double the total of each of his two predecessors, according to White House data.

Obama signed off on fewer total regulations, however, than Republican President George W. Bush during the same period of his tenure, the data shows.

The administration said the benefits of its regulations outweigh the costs by $116 billion so far, according to the figures from an unreleased White House report provided to Bloomberg. Judging regulations by cost alone doesn’t take into account the economic benefits of healthier children, safer roads or fewer industrial accidents.

Freedom of Information Act Portal Would Boost Responsiveness, Improve Efficiency

From: OMB Watch

An interagency project underway could revolutionize implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and significantly improve transparency and efficiency. The project to develop a government-wide portal for FOIA requests, a goal long supported by the open government community, could deliver as soon as this fall.


Under FOIA, federal agencies respond to public requests for their records. Each agency requires different procedures for submitting a request and tracking its progress, which can be confusing to members of the public. Innovative technologies, already in use at some agencies, could increase proactive disclosure, improve responsiveness, and reduce backlogs. But not all agencies have taken advantage of these opportunities. Many agencies do not have web forms to submit requests, automatic tracking of request status, electronic communication with requestors, or proactive disclosure of request logs or the documents released.

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.