OIRA Makes Much-Needed Improvements to Online Meetings Database
by Katie Weatherford, 4/14/2014
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the White House Office of Management and Budget, recently updated its online database for disclosing meetings with non-government officials, such as lobbyists, trade associations, public interest groups, and other private stakeholders.
This updated database is a welcome improvement over the older, far less useful website for accessing meeting information. Under the older system, users could not search or sort through the meeting logs; instead, the meetings were listed chronologically by agency and sub-agency, and the meeting descriptions were often vague and inconsistent, making it difficult to conduct a thorough search. The new and improved database makes it much easier for users to access meeting information by allowing them to search for a meeting by date, regulatory identifier number, agency or sub-agency, and stage of rulemaking.
While the new database is an important step forward on improving transparency of OIRA and the regulatory review process, OIRA should consider additional enhancements as it continues to roll out the new database and develop its features. For instance, OIRA should consider adding meetings held prior to April 1, 2014 to the new database so that users would no longer need to search two separate databases. OIRA should also consider adding to its database information about oral communications with outside parties, which is currently only accessible through a separate webpage housed with the older meeting logs. Another important feature OIRA should consider adding is the ability for users to search the database by the name of an individual or organization or by keyword.
Consolidating all outside communications logs into a centralized and searchable database would improve public accessibility to this information and demonstrate that OIRA is committed to making its operations more transparent.