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independent agencies to participate in the Obama administration's governmentwide review of regulations that may be outdated, overly burdensome or stifling to the creation of jobs.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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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