OMB elaborates on regulatory review for independent agencies

Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, on Friday continued his bid to encourage independent agencies to participate in the Obama administration's governmentwide review of regulations that may be outdated, overly burdensome or stifling to the creation of jobs.

In a July 22 memo to heads of independent regulatory agencies, Sunstein laid out guidance elaborating on President Obama's February executive order that OIRA earlier this month had applied to the independent regulators. "It is understood that this guidance is issued with full respect for the independence of the agencies to which it is addressed," the memo said, "and hence nothing said here is meant to be binding."

The memo reiterated the executive order's language that "each agency shall identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public." Such approaches include "warnings, appropriate default rules and disclosure requirements, including provision of information to the public about risks in a form that is clear and intelligible," it said.

The guidance "asks the independent agencies to engage the public, to simplify their rules and to prioritize reforms that will offer big economic savings," Sunstein wrote in an accompanying blog post. "It also offers a template to promote clarity and transparency in regulatory reform -- and to change the culture of Washington, by hardwiring rigorous empirical analysis and continuing scrutiny into the regulatory system."

Like Cabinet agencies, the independents will have 120 days to draft plans that include public participation, prioritization, analysis of costs and benefits and of potential savings, structure and staffing, and coordination with other forms of retrospective analysis and review.

The memo also encouraged agencies to seek public comment on regulations online, harmonize rules governmentwide and base decisions on solid science.

The business community may be supportive. Earlier this month, Erik Glavich, director of legal and regulatory policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, applauded the application of regulatory review to independent agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The association "urges independent agencies to engage in meaningful regulatory review that yields a thoughtful cleanup of outdated and unnecessarily burdensome regulation," he wrote. "The president's order is heavily qualified by phrases seeking to make sure that the administration not be accused of exceeding its authority over independent agencies. We believe the president has far greater authority than has been asserted. In the absence of stronger direction from the president, Congress must make clear the president's authority in this regard."

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • 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 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.


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