OMB Watch Applauds Obama's Revocation of Bush-Era Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Brian Gumm, 2/4/2009

PRESS RELEASE
-For Immediate Release-
February 4, 2009

Contact: Brian Gumm, (202) 683-4812, bgumm@ombwatch.org

OMB Watch Applauds Obama's Revocation of Bush-Era Executive Order on Regulatory Review

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2009—OMB Watch applauds President Barack Obama’s decision to undo one of former President George W. Bush’s attempts to paralyze the regulatory process. In an executive order published in today's issue of the Federal Register, Obama revokes Executive Order 13422 and all implementing guidelines and documents.

OMB Watch has consistently opposed E.O. 13422, which Bush signed on Jan. 18, 2007. E.O. 13422 amended the Clinton-era executive order on regulatory review that agencies relied on for the first six years of Bush's presidency. E.O. 13422 further politicized the regulatory process and threatened to prevent regulatory agencies from setting new standards that protect the public. Congress and other public interest and good government groups also chided Bush on E.O. 13422.

OMB Watch had two main objections to E.O. 13422:

  • First, the order gave agency "regulatory policy officers" the ability to scuttle proposed regulations without the input of the public or agency experts.
  • Second, the order granted the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the power to review and edit agency guidance documents – a class which could include agency opinions, scientific documents, or memoranda and which, by definition, are nonbinding. (More details on the problems with E.O. 13422 can be found here.)

"President Obama’s decision to revoke E.O. 13422 so early in his administration sends a clear signal that he hopes to limit the role of politics in the regulatory process," said Rick Melberth, OMB Watch Director of Federal Regulatory Policy. "President Obama should continue to tear down the political and procedural hurdles that prevent regulatory agencies from quickly and effectively addressing threats to the public."

Obama’s executive order also revokes a previous Bush order, E.O. 13258 of Feb. 26, 2002, which eliminated the vice president’s formal role in reviewing agency regulations. The result is that Vice President Joseph Biden may be involved in settling interagency conflicts and conflicts between OIRA and the agencies over the scope of regulations.

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OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization dedicated to promoting government accountability, citizen participation in public policy decisions, and the use of fiscal and regulatory policy to serve the public interest.