Thursday, July 04, 2013

Senate confirms Howard Shelanski as OIRA Administrator in Voice Vote

Against the backdrop of two Executive Orders on federal agency rulemaking, ant at a critical moment when legislation is pending to require independent federal agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of regulations, the U.S. confirmed by voice vote Howard Shelanski to be the next Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Mr. Shelanski is the Director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission, a position he has held since 2012. He is currently on leave from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he has been a professor since 2011. Mr. Shelanski was the Deputy Director for Antitrust in the FTC’s Bureau of Economics from 2009 to 2011. He served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission from 1999 to 2000 and as Senior Economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1998 to 1999.

At his nomination hearing before the Committee, Mr. Shelanski noted that OIRA plays an essential role in developing and overseeing the implementation of Government-wide policies on regulation, information collection, information quality and technology, statistical standards, scientific evidence, and privacy. He believes that public involvement and transparency in regulation is critically important as we tackle the complex issues of regulation both domestically and globally.

Asked by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) to list his top priorities as OIRA Administrator, he listed three. The first is to ensure that regulatory review occurs in a timely manner and that it is a high quality review. Second, he intends to form good working relationships with agency heads and with Congress, as well as with public stakeholders. Third, OIRA will conduct retrospective  reviews  and look backs of adopted regulations even as the Office moves forward with new regulations. OIRA will look back to ensure that the regulations already  on the books are not overly burdensome and are doing what they were intended to do. The Administrator-designate added that, regarding retrospective review, the primary duty is with the agency heads since they best know their regulations. To Chairman Carper’s query if such retrospective review will be ongoing, he replied that it would be.

Executive Orders. President Obama issued two significant Executive Orders on the federal regulatory process during his first term: Executive Order No. 13563, 76 Fed. Reg. 3,821 (Jan. 21, 2011) and Executive Order No. 13579, 76 Fed. Reg. 41,587 (July 14, 2011). EO No. 13563 set out general requirements directed to executive agencies concerning public participation, integration and innovation, flexible approaches, and science. It also reaffirmed that executive agencies should conduct a cost-benefit analysis of regulations. EO No. 13579 states that independent regulatory agencies should follow EO No. 13563. Mr. Shelanski assured the Senate that he would faithfully follow these Executive Orders.