• Video

What Is OIRA and Why Does It Exist?

Professor Sally Katzen, who served as head administrator at OIRA in the Clinton Administration, explains what the agency is and what it does. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs helps the President evaluate significant regulations proposed by executive agencies. OIRA analyzes regulations based on issues such as efficiency, cost, and policy choices. This gives the President input about actions of the agencies that he is ultimately responsible for. https://youtube.com/watch?v=cwZlc_s_KXU


OIRA is the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It is a small office in the Office of Management and Budget, and it is tasked by the President to review the significant regulations that are developed, modified, or rescinded by executive branch agencies. That's the what it is, but probably more importantly is why it is. To understand that more fully you have to take a step back and remember that under the Constitution, Article One vests the legislative power in the Congress. Congress is the branch of government that is supposed to make the law. The Executive, which is in Article Two, is to faithfully carry out the law. So regulations should be implementing the law. But there's a lot of latitude there, because Congress is not well equipped to be very specific when it delegates authority to the agencies to regulate. It does not have the time, it does not have the knowledge, and it often does not have the political will to make specific cuts, specific decisions. Now, there are a host of agencies and departments throughout the executive branch and they're staffed by scientists, technicians, engineers, economists, even lawyers. But there is only one person who is politically accountable for the entire Executive Branch, and that's the President of the United States. So the President wants to be able to at least know what's going on in the various agencies, and perhaps do something about it so that it reflects his or her priorities. This has come to be known as centralized review, and the president has tasked OIRA at OMB to carry out this centralized review to ensure that the myriad of agencies throughout the federal government are developing regulations consistent with their statutory mandates that are done in a way that meet his principles of efficiency, cost benefit analysis, public participation, whatever, and the substance of which is consistent with his priorities and policies. It is a viable way for the President to supervise the executive branch agencies for which he is responsible and held accountable in our democracy.

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