Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New OIRA Administrator to Conduct Retrospective Review of Federal Regulations

Howard Shelanski, the new Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said that his Office will launch a regulatory retrospective review, or look back, initiative to identify outdated and unnecessary federal regulations. While it is the job of OIRA to review federal agency regulations before they are issued, he noted, some regulations that were well crafted when first issued can become unnecessary over time as conditions change. Regulations that are not providing real benefits to society need to be streamlined, modified, or repealed. No one should be filing paperwork just for the sake of filing paperwork, he emphasized.

According to the OIRA chief, review of existing regulations is a crucial part of ensuring that protecting the nation’s health, safety, and environment remains consistent with creating jobs and prosperity. He pledged that this Administration will expand and institutionalize regulatory look back efforts to ensure the identification of rules that need to be modified, streamlined, or repealed. His Office wants and will carefully consider ideas and input from the public as it make these regulatory changes.

The initiative is in line with President Obama January 2011 Executive Order that called on federal agencies to streamline, modify, or repeal regulations on the books that impose unnecessary burdens or costs. The President has followed up with additional orders asking federal agencies to report regularly on their progress in reviewing existing rules, and asking independent federal agencies to perform a similar review of regulations on their books.

The look back initiative was presaged at Mr. Shelanki’s nomination hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Asked by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) to list his top priorities as OIRA Administrator, among the three priorities he listed was that OIRA would 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 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. At his conformation hearing, Mr. Shelanski assured the Senate that he would faithfully follow these Executive Orders.

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