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Federal Rulemaking: The Role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

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Congressional rept.

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The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 created the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs OIRA within the Office of Management and Budget OMB. Executive Order 12291, issued by President Reagan in 1981, gave OIRA the responsibility to review the substance of agencies regulatory actions before publication in the Federal Register. Since then, OIRA has played a significant -- and sometimes determinative -- role in the federal rulemaking process. The offices regulatory review role was initially highly controversial, and it has been criticized at different times as being both too active and too passive regarding agencies rules. Although OIRA has a number of specific statutory responsibilities e.g., paperwork review and regulatory accounting, as a component of OMB it is part of the Executive Office of the President, and helps ensure that covered agencies rules reflect the Presidents policies and priorities. A September 2003 report by the General Accounting Office indicated that OIRA had a significant effect on more than a third of the 85 rules in the study, but OIRAs most common effect was to suggest changes to explanatory language in the preambles to the rules. The current administrator of OIRA has made a number of changes since taking office in July 2001, including increased use of return letters, added emphasis on economic analysis to support the rules, and improvements in the transparency of the offices review process. Overall, in contrast to the counselor role it played during the Clinton Administration, OIRA appears to have returned to the gatekeeper role that it had during its first 12 years of existence. Possible legislative issues involving OIRA include codification of the offices review function and principles, increasing or decreasing the offices funding and staffing, adding review of rules from independent regulatory agencies, and improvements in the transparency of OIRAs review process.

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  • Government and Political Science

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