Office of Information and Regulatory
1. What is the Office
of Information and Regulatory Affairs?
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is a Federal
office that Congress established in the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act.
It is part of the Office of Management and Budget, which is an agency
within the Executive Office of the President. In addition to reviewing
collections of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act, OIRA reviews
draft regulations under Executive Order 12866 and develops and oversees
the implementation of government-wide policies in the areas of information
technology, information policy, privacy, and statistical policy. OIRA
also oversees agency implementation of the Information Quality Law,
including the peer review practices of agencies.
2. Who is the OIRA
OIRA's Administrator is Susan E. Dudley
Review of Agency Regulations
3. What is the OIRA’s
role in the rulemaking process?
Answer: Executive Order 12866 describes OIRA’s role in the rulemaking
process. In it, the President directs agencies, to the extent permitted
by law, to follow certain principles in rulemaking. These principles
include consideration of alternatives to the rulemaking and analysis
of the rule’s effects on society, both its benefits and costs.
As the Executive Order directs, OIRA reviews agency draft regulations
before publication to ensure agency compliance with this Executive Order.
OIRA’s review process is described in much greater detail in the
GAO report titled “OMB’s Role in Reviews of Agencies’
Draft Rules and the Transparency of Those Reviews.” You can find
this report at: http://www.gao.gov.
OIRA completes about 500 regulatory reviews each year.
4. How has the process
of regulatory review changed under the Bush Administration?
Answer: The formal process by which OIRA reviews agencies’ rules
has been unchanged since Presidential Executive Order 12866 was issued
in 1993. However, there have been several changes in OIRA’s policies
under the Bush Administration, including increased use of public letters
explaining why rules were returned to agencies, new use of public letters
prompting the development of rules, increased emphasis on economic analysis,
stricter adherence to the 90-day time limit for OIRA review, and improvements
in the transparency of the OIRA review process.
5. Why is OIRA review
Answer: The issuance of Presidential regulatory principles, and the
centralized review of draft regulations, has been an accepted part of
regulatory development for 30 years in one form or another. This began
with President Nixon’s “Quality of Life” program,
and continued in the 1970s with President Ford’s requirement in
Executive Orders 11821 and 11949 for agencies to prepare inflation/economic
impact statements and with President Carter’s Executive Order
12044 on “Improving Government Regulations.” The OMB review
process became more formalized in 1981 with President Reagan’s
Executive Order 12291, which was in effect from 1981 to September 1993
(the Reagan and Bush Administrations and the first nine months of the
Clinton Administration). In September 1993, President Clinton issued
Executive Order 12866, which retained the OMB review process in essentially
the same form. The Executive Order 12866 process remains in effect today.
review process ensures that agencies, to the extent permitted by law,
comply with the regulatory principles stated in Executive Order 12866
and that the President’s policies are reflected in agency rules.
It also serves to ensure adequate interagency review of draft rules,
so that agencies coordinate their rules with other agencies to avoid
inconsistent, incompatible, or duplicative policies.
6. How long can OIRA
take to review a draft regulation?
The period for OIRA review is limited by the Executive Order to 90 days.
There is no minimum period for review. Under the Executive Order, the
review period may be extended by the head of the rulemaking agency,
and the OMB Director may extend the review period on a one-time basis
for no more than 30 days. The average review time for the 712 rules
submitted to OMB during 2003 was 53 days.
7. What does it mean
when OIRA “returns” an agency rule?
In some cases, when OMB believes that an agency rule is not consistent
with the principles set forth in Executive Order 12866, OIRA “returns”
the rule to the agency for further consideration. “Returning”
a rule means that OIRA has concluded that the draft is not consistent
with the principles of Executive Order 12866 and that further agency
effort is needed before the agency may publish the rule. For example,
the agency may have provided inadequate analysis regarding alternatives.
In such cases, agencies may, and frequently do, conduct further work
on the draft and resubmit it for OMB consideration.
8. What is a “prompt”
“Prompt” letters are a mechanism created in 2001 that OIRA
uses to pro-actively suggest issues that agencies might address. Prompt
letters may suggest areas where further regulation may be needed to
fill gaps in current environmental, health or safety protections; or
they could be used to suggest areas where a current regulation is no
longer needed and should be modified or rescinded. To date, OIRA has
issued 12 prompt letters on subjects ranging from the transfat content
of foods to pollution from diesel engines. You can find the various
prompt letters issued from OIRA at: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/jsp/EO/promptLetters.jsp.
9. Does OIRA provide
summary information on the costs and benefits of major Federal rules?
Yes. You can find OIRA’s annual report to Congress on the costs
and benefits of Federal rules at: /omb/inforeg/regpol-reports_congress.html.
OIRA and its
Relationship with Parties outside the Executive Branch
10. Does OIRA talk
to or meet with particular interest groups?
OIRA’s policy is to meet with any party interested in discussing
issues, whether they are from State or local governments, small business
or other business or industry interests, or from the environmental,
health or safety communities. Under OIRA procedures, as set forth in
Executive Order 12866, if such meetings concern regulations under review,
they must be conducted by the OIRA Administrator or a specific designee,
and a log, available on OIRA’s website, is kept of such meetings.
11. What are OIRA’s
Consistent with E.O. 12866, OIRA provides extensive information about
its work related to regulatory review in OIRA’s public docket
room and on its website [www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/regpol].
The information includes reports, “return” and “prompt”
letters, speeches and testimony by the OIRA Administrator, and lists
and statistics regarding regulatory review. For example, OIRA makes
publicly available all substantive communications with any party outside
the Executive Branch concerning regulations under review. If the OIRA
Administrator or his designee meets with outside parties regarding a
rule under review, the subject, date, and participants of the meeting
are disclosed on the OIRA website. Any material received from outside
parties on rules under review is placed in the public docket and noted
on the OIRA website. Finally, after a rule is published, OIRA will make
publicly available certain documents exchanged between OIRA and the
rulemaking agency during the review period.
How can outside parties best make their ideas about rules under review
known to OIRA?
Outside parties may provide written comments to the OIRA Administrator
on a rule that is under review or may soon be under review. Those parties
may also request a meeting with the Administrator.
13. What is the best
way to communicate with OIRA?
The best way to communicate with OIRA is by fax at (202) 395-3047. We
are still experiencing serious delays in the regular and overnight mail
due to the procedures instituted to strengthen security. Any thoughts
you may wish to convey to us would be appreciated.
and Benefit-Cost Analysis
14. Why does OIRA
place so much emphasis on regulatory analysis, and what is its purpose
Answer: As one of its regulatory principles, Executive Order 12866 states
that agencies in developing a regulation “shall assess both the
costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that
some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt
a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of
the intended regulation justify its costs.” In addition, statutes
such as the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act require agencies to evaluate the costs and benefits of covered rulemakings.
analysis is a tool regulatory agencies use to anticipate and evaluate
the likely consequences of rules. It provides a formal way of organizing
the evidence on the key effects -good and bad - of the various alternatives
that should be considered in developing regulations. The motivation
is to (1) learn if the benefits of an action are likely to justify the
costs or (2) discover which of various possible alternatives would be
the most cost-effective.
15. Does OIRA provide
technical guidance to agencies on how to do good regulatory analysis?
Yes. OMB has long provided guidance on regulatory analysis. The latest
such guidance is OMB's Circular No. A-4, Guidelines for the Conduct
of Regulatory Analysis, which we released in September 2003. These guidelines
became fully effective for economically significant rules - generally,
rules that have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million of more
- on January 1, 2005. OMB developed the guidelines in collaboration
with the President's Council of Economic Advisors, and revised the proposed
guidelines based on public comments, peer review, and interagency review.
Solicitations of Regulatory Reform Nominations
16. Why has OIRA solicited
reform nominations for current regulations?
The Regulatory Right to Know Act requires OIRA to make “recommendations
for reform” of regulations in its annual Benefit/Cost Report.
In response to this requirement, OIRA requested, in its draft Benefit/Cost
Report published in the spring of 2001, suggestions from the public
on rules that agencies should review to assess the need for reform.
To date, OIRA has requested reforms in 3 of the previous 4 years; our
latest effort in the 2004 draft Report to Congress was a solicitation
of regulatory reform relevant to the manufacturing sector.
17. What is the status
of OIRA’s reform solicitations?
We reported on the status of the 2001, 2002, and 2004 nominations in
detail in our 2004 Final Report to Congress.
2001, OMB received 71 suggestions for regulatory reform from 33 commenters.
Of these, 23 agency actions were rated as “high priority”
reviews. We estimate that action has been taken on about 75% of these
high priority items.
2002, OMB received 316 suggestions for reform of regulations, guidance
documents, and paperwork requirements from approximately 1,700 commenters.
Many of these reforms are the subject of current rulemakings.
2004, OMB received 189 suggestions for reform of regulations, guidance
documents, and paperwork requirements relevant to the manufacturing
sector from 41 commenters. Federal agencies and OMB have determined
that 76 of these 189 nominations have potential merit and justify further
action. Future actions on these reform nominations range from performing
a priority investigation and reporting to OMB in order to determine
appropriate next steps, to issuing modernized regulations.
18. How does OIRA
evaluate reform nominations?
OIRA and OMB work closely with the various agencies when deciding to
go forward with particular regulatory reforms. We also work closely
with the Office of Advocacy in the Small Business Administration and,
in the case of the 2004 manufacturing reform nominations, the Department
of Commerce’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing
and Services. The criteria by which the agencies reviewed the nominations
were similar to the case we asked the commenters to make; for example,
did the agency believe that a benefit-cost case could be made for the
regulatory reform. Of course, OMB and the agencies also had to take
into consideration agency resources and competing priorities. Most reforms
must be adopted through a process that entails opportunity for public
participation, such as notice and comment rulemaking, and thus will
be subject to the same regulatory analysis requirements under Executive
Order 12866 that apply to any new regulatory program.
Quality Guidelines and Peer Review Bulletin
19. What are Information
The “Information Quality Act” is the informal name given
to PL. 106-554; H.R. 5658, Section 515, through which Congress directed
OMB to issue government-wide information quality guidelines by September
30, 2001. OMB’s guidelines, published in the Federal Register
on February 22, 2002, after extensive public comment, can be found at
October 1, 2002, agency specific information quality guidelines became
effective to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity”
of all information disseminated by Federal agencies. Under both the
agency and government-wide OMB guidelines, Federal agencies are taking
appropriate steps to incorporate the information quality performance
standards into agency information dissemination practices, and developing
pre-dissemination review procedures to substantiate the quality of information
before it is disseminated. Under the agency information quality guidelines,
“affected persons” can request that the agencies correct
information if they believe that scientific, technical, economic, statistical
or other information disseminated does not meet the agency and OMB standards.
If the requestor is dissatisfied with the initial agency response to
a correction request, an appeal opportunity is provided by the agencies.
20. If a person wants
to seek a correction in agency information, what should they do?
Each agency has their own information quality guidelines that lay out
the procedures that should be followed for submitting an information
quality correction request to that particular agency. This includes
information on where to send the request and what types of information
to include in the request. For more information, a person should look
at the guidelines for the agency responsible for disseminating the information.
Links to agencies’ information quality guidelines can be found
21. What is the role
of peer review?
Peer review is an important procedure used by the scientific community
to ensure the quality of information prior to publication. It involves
critical review of a draft report by qualified scientists not involved
in developing the report. Peer review includes an exchange of judgments
about the appropriateness of methods and the strength of the author's
inferences. The "Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review,"
issued on December 16, 2004, establishes government-wide guidance aimed
at enhancing the practice of peer review of government science. OMB
believes that pre-dissemination peer review can strengthen the quality
and credibility of government produced information. Influential scientific
information that forms the basis of agency regulations (including the
data and model used in regulatory impact assessments) is subject to
the Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review. OMB's Bulletin for
Peer Review is one aspect of a larger OMB effort to improve the quality
of information upon which public policies are based.
22. What is OIRA’s
role in the review and approval of agency information collections?
Answer: The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires agencies to submit
approval requests for information collections to OIRA; OIRA then evaluates
them under the standards of the Paperwork Reduction Act, approving them
if they comply and assigning a control number. OIRA conducts about 3000
of these reviews each year.
23. What is the role
of the agency’s Chief Information Officer?
Answer: The position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) was established
in the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act to create a single agency official responsible
for a variety of information related activities. In addition to overseeing
the agency’s compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act’s
information collection requirements, the CIO’s duties include
information technology and its associated capital planning, enterprise
architecture, computer security, and IT workforce issues.
24. What kinds of
information does OIRA review under the Paperwork Reduction Act?
The definition of “information” in the PRA is very broad.
Thus, OIRA reviews forms (e.g., the IRS 1040), surveys (e.g., the Census),
reporting and recordkeeping requirements (e.g., requirements on business
to report workplace safety information to OSHA or air quality monitoring
data to EPA) and third party disclosures (e.g., the nutrition labeling
requirements of food).
25. What criteria
does OIRA use to decide whether or not to approve an agency’s collection
The PRA requires that agency information collections minimize burden
and duplication, provide useful information, and support the proper
performance of the agency’s mission. OIRA is obligated by law
to use the paperwork clearance process and the criteria established
by the Paperwork Reduction Act to review and approve or disapprove of
an agency’s collection of information.
26. What is the effect
of OIRA disapproving an agency’s collection of information?
If OIRA disapproves an information collection, the Paperwork Reduction
Act states that the agency may not engage in the collection and that
“no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply”
with the information collection.
27. Does OIRA evaluate
agency performance in minimizing paperwork burdens?
The Paperwork Reduction Act requires the Director of the Office of Management
and Budget to report to Congress on Federal activities under the Act,
based upon the performance results reported by agencies. The Information
Collection Budget (ICB) is OMB’s annual report in compliance with
our responsibilities under the Act. The report covers government progress
in making information collection more efficient and effective and reducing
information collection burden on the public. You can find this annual
report at: /omb/inforeg/infocoll.html.
28. How large is OIRA’s
OIRA has more than 50 full-time professionals who work with agency professionals
on specific issues and decisions.
29. Since OIRA-OMB
is part of the Executive Office of the President, does that mean that
OIRA employees are political appointees of the President?
No. The vast majority of OIRA employees are career public servants.
30. What types of
training do OIRA staff typically possess?
Historically, OIRA staff have had graduate training in economics, policy
analysis, statistics and information technology. Due to the growth of
science-based regulation and information-quality concerns, OIRA has
recently added new staffing with expertise in public health, toxicology,
epidemiology, engineering, and other technical fields.
31. If a person is
interested in working at OIRA, either as an intern or as a full-time employee,
who should they contact?
Persons interested in employment at OIRA should send a resume and cover
letter to Lisa Jones, Room 10201, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC