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Comments on ACUS Draft Statement Regarding the OIRA Regulatory Review Process

Policy Integrity submitted comments on the draft statement by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) Committees on Administration and Management, and Regulation, for improving the timeliness, transparency, and effectiveness of the regulatory review process of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

The ACUS draft statement reinforces some OIRA best practices and suggests some additional improvements. Policy Integrity’s comments make several suggestions for strengthening ACUS’s statement.

To help reduce delay, ACUS should incorporate into its statement four suggestions: If insufficient information is causing delay, OIRA should either announce a timeline for getting the information it needs or return the rule to the agency to collect more data; if a rule’s complexity or inter-agency review is causing delay, OIRA should set a new timeline; if insufficient resources are causing delay, OIRA should make it known publicly, then fix the resource problem as best it can; and OIRA should not hold rules indefinitely for political reasons or due to pressure from special interests.

To improve transparency, two changes should be made to the current draft statement. First, ACUS should build on the transparency recommendation it made in an earlier draft, which called for clarification of the agency’s role in determining when OIRA’s informal reviews end and when the formal reviews begin, and include simple, effective processes that increase transparency without undermining effectiveness. Specifically, ACUS should examine the Government Accountability Office reports from 2003 and 2009 for recommendations on well-documented ways to improve transparency. The second suggestion on transparency is that ACUS propose that regulatory agencies summarize all changes—and the motivation for those changes—made during the review process. In this way, there will be a clear historical account of exactly what changes occurred in the review.