Richard Revesz is the AnBryce Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the New York University School of Law.

Richard Revesz is the AnBryce Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the New York University School of Law. Screengrab/C-SPAN

Biden Names His Pick to Lead the White House Regulatory Office

Since taking office, Biden has championed the use of regulations to carry out his major policy priorities.

More than a year and a half into his presidency, President Biden announced on Friday his pick to lead the small, but important White House regulatory affairs office. 

Biden intends to nominate Richard Revesz, the AnBryce Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the New York University School of Law, to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is housed within the White House Office of Management and Budget. Biden has not had a permanent OIRA head since taking office.

Revesz “is one of the nation’s leading voices in the fields of environmental and regulatory law and policy,” said the announcement from the White House. “He has published 10 books and more than 80 articles in major law reviews and journals advocating for protective and rational climate change and environmental policies, and examining the institutional contexts in which regulatory policy is made.” He is founder of the Institute for Policy Integrity, a think tank and advocacy organization that promotes public policies for the environment, public health, and consumers, and is director of the American Law Institute, an independent organization that puts out scholarly work to improve, modernize and clarify the law. 

OIRA oversees the regulatory process across the government, approves government information collections, establishes government statistical practices and coordinates federal privacy policy. During his presidency, Biden has championed the use of regulations to carry out his major policy priorities, such as curbing climate change and advancing equity. The latest version of its regulatory agenda shows precisely what the agencies are working on. The use of the regulatory process will become even more critical to the administration if the Democrats lose control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. 

One of the Biden first actions upon taking office was ordering a review on “modernizing regulatory review,” in order to “create a process to advance regulations that promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.” The status of that report is unclear.

“Ricky is a fantastic pick to be OIRA administrator,” Bridget Dooling, a research professor at The George Washington University's Regulatory Studies Center and former OIRA analyst, told Government Executive.“He's incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about regulation's role in society. OIRA and, more importantly, the American people will be in good hands with Ricky.” 

When it comes to OIRA and its leadership, a source of tension within the Democratic party is cost-benefit analysis for the rulemaking process, which progressives typically want to limit. 

James Goodwin, senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, tweeted: “If Revesz sticks to the day-to-day management at OIRA and leaves big-picture thinking to [OIRA Associate Administrator K. Sabeel Rahman], this could work.” However, “I worry that Revesz's support for cost-benefit analysis could ultimately undermine a more ambitious effort to modernize regulatory review.” Rahman announced on Wednesday that he was appointed to the position. 

Additionally, Goodwin told Government Executive that Republicans’ response to Revesz “will be a good indicator of how completely the Republican Party has gone off the rails when it comes to regulatory policy.” 

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., deputy whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, congratulated Revesz in a tweet and said: “You’ve long shown your prowess surrounding climate change and regulation, and I’m sure you will continue to be a champion for these topics in your new role.” 

Since the position of OIRA administration became subject to Senate confirmation in the 1980s, no president has ever taken this much time to nominate an individual for the role, Bloomberg noted. Sharon Block, who was tapped by Biden to lead OIRA on an acting basis, left the agency in January and career official Dominic Mancini took over.