A New Day for Regulations?

Public health blogs and the OMB Watch blog have been watching the confirmation tussle over law professor Cass Sunstein since April, when President Obama nominated him to be the nation's "regulatory czar" -- director of the White House OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Sunstein was confirmed Sept. 10 by the U.S. Senate, and now regulatory reform as envisioned by the Obama administration can move forward, OMB Director Peter R. Orszag wrote on OMB's blog that afternoon.

"The work ahead entails not only the daily challenge of oversight of rule-making and regulating, but also the larger effort of re-examining the way OIRA does business. Together, we'll consider some of the fundamental questions facing modern government, including ways to increase participation and transparency in rulemaking, and to strive for regulation that supports fairness and equity," Orszag wrote.

OIRA has the power to block safety and health regulations proposed by OSHA, EPA, FDA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other agencies. Bloggers on the left claim OIRA meets repeatedly with industry groups bent on easing proposed rules but has not offered the same access to public health advocates who want even stronger protections, so a level playing field is the sort of reform they support.

Discussions of Sunstein's approach are available here, here, and here. For the next few years, he may be more important than Dr. David Michaels, Obama's choice to lead OSHA, in determining the direction, speed, and aggressiveness of OSHA's rulemaking efforts.

What's your opinion of Sunstein, and how fast do you want OSHA, EPA, etc. to move on the regulatory front?

Posted by Jerry Laws on Sep 11, 2009