Close observers of the White House have noted a change in disclosure practices since Howard Shelanski took over as top White House regulatory chief: the online database of meetings officials take with lobbyists, trade associations and public interest advocates has been streamlined.
Earlier this month, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs introduced a new calendar format that allows interested outsiders to search the records of meetings already held by date, regulatory identifier number, agency or sub-agency, and stage of rulemaking.
The Center for Effective Government welcomed the change. Under the previous format, “users could not search or sort through the meeting logs; instead, the meetings were listed chronologically by agency and sub-agency, and the meeting descriptions were often vague and inconsistent, making it difficult to conduct a thorough search,” wrote regulatory policy analyst Katie Weatherford, in a blog post.
But further improvements are in order, she added. OIRA could combine data on meetings held before April 1, 2014, which under the current setup are kept separately. The office might also consider adding data on oral communication with outside parties, which is currently also kept on a separate webpage.
And while they’re at it, the center said, OIRA could also expand the search engine capabilities to allow searches by individuals, organizations or key words.