OMB nominee vows to use 'inclusive' approach to regulations

The White House's choice to be the federal "regulatory czar" sought to assure lawmakers on Tuesday he will not use dispassionate cost-benefit analysis of government programs as an "arithmetic straitjacket" to restrict regulators and stymie the intent of legislators.

Cass Sunstein, whom President Obama picked to be the director of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that his guiding force will be the rule of law -- not cold-hearted numbers-crunching -- in his role as the top evaluator of government regulations.

Sunstein, a Harvard law professor and longtime friend of Obama, has come under fire from critics of cost-benefit analysis, who say this approach waters down regulations that might be costly to businesses and government but could vastly improve hard-to-measure outcomes like the quality of life.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., asked Sunstein to differentiate his views from those of former OIRA Administrator John Graham, a lightning rod for controversy when he served in the Bush administration. Graham's nomination to the post in 2001 was vigorously contested by environmental, health and civil rights activists, who said Graham, founder of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, relied too heavily on ham-handed formulas that placed dollar values on human life.

Sunstein promised on Tuesday that if confirmed, his decision-making process will be "inclusive and humanized" and take ethical considerations into account. Rena Steinzor, an environmental lawyer and the president of the Center for Progressive Reform, an organization that has been critical of cost-benefit analysis, called Sunstein's testimony "very heartening." But she added, "the proof will be in the pudding."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.