The Future of Regulation: A Conversation with OIRA Administrator Richard Revesz
April 11, 2023
WHAT: Please join the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) for a conversation about the future of regulation with Richard Revesz, administrator of the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The conversation will focus on the new executive order reforming and modernizing the regulatory review process. Rachel Weintraub, executive director of CSS, will moderate.
WHO: Richard Revesz, Administrator, U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen (CSS co-chair)
Susan Weinstock, president and CEO, Consumer Federation of America (CSS co-chair)
Rachel Weintraub, executive director, Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (moderator)
WHEN: 11 a.m. ET, Tuesday, April 11
REGISTER: Please register by close of business on Monday, April 10 at bit.ly/regs23 to get the Zoom link.
STATEMENTS FROM COALITION LEADERS ON THE EXECUTIVE ORDER:
Public Citizen: “The toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio and the failure of Silicon Valley Bank make it clear that now more than ever strong and effective regulations must be created to protect the public, and we are thrilled to see the administration put forth such powerful reforms to improve the process.”
Center for Progressive Reform: “If implemented well, this order will launch a new era for our federal regulatory system and the invaluable role it plays in our democratic system of government.”
The Biden Administration is Building Back a Better Regulatory System
By Bitsy Skerry, Regulatory Policy Associate, Public Citizen
On Tuesday, April 11, Richard Revesz, the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the White House office responsible for the review of major Federal regulations, joined the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) for a webinar on modernizing regulatory review. The virtual conversation followed the Biden administration’s release of Executive Order 14094 on Modernizing Regulatory Review (EO) and draft revisions to Circular A-4, a guidance document for Federal agencies that provides recommendations on how to assess the costs and benefits of rules they issue.
The question and answer-style webinar was Administrator Revesz’s first public speaking engagement on the two documents, which were released on Thursday, April 6. The webinar was moderated by Rachel Weintraub, Director of CSS, and featured opening and closing remarks from CSS Co-chairs Susan Weinstock, CEO of the Consumer Federation of America, and Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, respectively.
“For consumer protections to work, we need an effective regulatory process,” Weinstock said. She further stated that the EO “begins the process of making the regulatory system more effective and inclusive.”
With the release of these two important documents, the Biden administration has made clear that modernizing the Federal regulatory review process to better serve the public interest is one of its priorities. Biden’s EO ushers in the most important and impactful set of reforms to the regulatory process in decades, and Circular A-4 has not been updated in 20 years. Change to the regulatory process was long overdue, and the Biden administration rose to meet the moment in a time where toxic train derailments and bank failure demonstrate the necessity of regulation to protect the public.
Speaking at the webinar, Administrator Revesz discussed how regulations provide consumer protection and a stronger economy, underscoring how the EO and Circular A-4 updates “would help improve people’s lives” in many ways, for example by “improving rail safety,” “protecting our children,” and “growing our economy from the middle out and the bottom up.”
When asked about the most significant aspects of the EO, Revesz discussed how all three sections of the document serve a purpose.
“The first section ensures OIRA review of regulations is done in the way that is most beneficial to the American people,” Revesz said. He explained how Section 1 of the EO increases the threshold for OIRA review of regulations from $100 to $200 million in impact. The $100 million threshold was used in 1993 under President Clinton and before that under President Reagan. By raising the threshold to $200 million, it will decrease the volume of regulations subject to the OIRA review process—a process that has been rife with delay under the current regime. A $200 million threshold will provide some breathing room in a crowded regulatory review process.
“$100 million isn’t what it used to be,” Revesz said.
Revesz went on to explain how Section 2 of the EO significantly expands possibilities for public participation. Revesz stated that public participation is “essential to a well-functioning regulatory regime,” and groups that have not traditionally participated in the regulatory process include the “kinds of voices” that “can make a real difference,” such as members of underserved communities. Section 2(e) of the EO, which addresses so-called “12866 meetings”—the behind closed doors meetings at OIRA that have typically been used by corporate actors to influence regulators and the administration seeks to make more accessible to members of the public—is available for public comment now through June 6, 2023.
Finally, Revesz explained how Section 3 “calls for the updating of Circular A-4 within a year of the EO, which was last Thursday [April 6, 2023].” The draft of Circular A-4 is available for public comment now through June 6, 2023. Revesz stated that he looks forward to the public comment and peer review process.
The Biden administration should be applauded for these updates to our regulatory process, which are a historic step in the right direction. As always, there is more to be done to improve and strengthen our system of public protections and “build back better.” Public Citizen will submit public comments on Section 2(e) of the EO and the draft revisions to Circular A-4.
In his closing remarks, Weissman recognized that OIRA under the Biden administration is different—in a good way— compared to the approach of administrations past to regulatory review. The Biden administration’s public interest approach to regulation is a welcome change.
“We’re used to a different kind of OIRA,” Weissman said.