By DANA LIEBELSON and BRYAN RAHIJA
Click here to join POGO's
Senior government officials are ignoring a White House directive that requires disclosure of key documents in the federal rulemaking process, thus hiding the potential influence of special interests on the writing of government regulations, according to a letter POGO sent yesterday to President Obama.
POGO's concern relates to--and bear with our wonkiness for a moment--how the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)--the White House office within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responsible for reviewing federal regulations that protect public health and safety--and rulemaking agencies are interpreting Executive Order (EO) 12866.
This EO, issued by President Bill Clinton in 1993, requires OIRA to publicly disclose all documents exchanged between OIRA and the rulemaking agencies during the crafting of new regulations. The EO also requires the rulemaking agency to identify to the public any changes made at the suggestion or recommendation of OIRA. President Obama reaffirmed the EO last year in his own executive order.
POGO readers should care because failure to heed the requirements in this EO could substantially harm the public interest. POGO’s letter cites one recent example in which OIRA apparently weakened a final rule on disclosure of conflicts of interest held by researchers who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Part of the problem, POGO argues, is that OIRA and agencies have flouted these transparency requirements since the 1990s: