Auto Safety Regulator under Scrutiny after Toyota Fiasco

Incidents of sudden acceleration that led to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles have sparked a debate over whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency in charge of auto safety, needs enhanced powers and resources.

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Scientists Recommend Ways to Restore Scientific Integrity to Government

On March 3, the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) released the results of a two-year research effort to explore the working environment of federal scientists in the public health and environmental fields. The results showed that not only is there political interference in their work, but that scientists also faced a series of obstacles that delay the study and dissemination of scientific information that affects the public every day.

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Patchwork Improvements Continue for E-Rulemaking

Several federal government websites have recently incorporated changes that better highlight regulatory issues and expand online access to rulemaking information. However, the changes appear independent of one another, not parts of a conscious effort by the Obama administration to transform the government's beleaguered e-rulemaking systems.

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Annual Cost-Benefit Report Gives Clues to Regulatory Changes

The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) annual report to Congress on the costs and benefits of federal regulations provides clues to the changes the Obama administration will seek in the regulatory process. While the report includes some important changes to the way agencies might approach calculating the impacts of new rules, it does little to suggest that major changes to the central role OMB plays in the process are likely.

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OMB Watch Calls on the Obama Administration to Revise Regulatory Process

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2010—President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to executive department heads and agencies on Jan. 30, 2009, calling for a revision to the principles guiding the federal regulatory process. The memo required agencies to submit within 100 days recommendations for a new executive order. The memo also precipitated a call for public comments by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to gather the public's ideas for reforming the regulatory process. At the one-year mark of his administration, OMB Watch calls on the president to complete this process by issuing a revised executive order.

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Hundreds of Rules May Be Void after Agencies Miss Procedural Step

Regulatory agencies are routinely violating federal law by not submitting final regulations to Congress, according to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report. Any rule agencies have not submitted to Congress could be susceptible to a lawsuit.

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Improving Implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act

On Oct. 27, 2009, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) opened a public comment process on ways to improve implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The PRA covers a range of information resource management issues and topics, although it is best known for creating OIRA and establishing a paperwork clearance procedure. The law was passed in 1980 and last reauthorized in 1995, well before current technological capabilities that allow for greater public participation and streamlined information collection and reporting.

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Beginning Steps toward a Regulatory Reform Agenda: Regulatory News in 2009

In 2009, the Obama administration took steps toward rebuilding the federal government's ability to protect public health, workplace safety, and environmental quality. President Obama set out key principles to guide the administration's actions on transparency, regulatory reform, and scientific integrity. He appointed well qualified agency heads who reversed or halted many harmful regulations from the prior administration. In doing so, the president has created expectations for a renewal of government's positive role. The most vexing problems, however – changing a dysfunctional regulatory process and restoring badly needed resources to agencies – remain major hurdles.

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New OIRA Staffer Calls Attention to Office’s Role

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the clearinghouse for federal regulations, has brought in a conservative economist, Randall Lutter, to review regulatory proposals from agencies. The move has upset OIRA critics and unnerved those who interpret Lutter's past writings as a sign of his views on public health and environmental regulation. Those working inside government and those who know him argue that the criticisms of Lutter, a civil servant on temporary assignment to OIRA, are unfair.

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Study Reveals the Focus on Lobbyists Could be Flawed

According to a study conducted by OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), 1,418 federally registered lobbyists "deregistered" with Congress in the second quarter of 2009 (between April and June). This is a considerably higher rate than that seen in the average reporting period, when a few hundred lobbyists terminate their active status. The groups cautioned that this finding does not necessarily mean that the Obama administration's policies on lobbyists are leading to fewer outside influences on government policy, or that those policies are creating more transparency.

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