Obama’s “Regulatory Czar” leaves post, heads back to Harvard

August 7, 2012
KEYWORDS cass / regulatory / sunstein
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Cass SunsteinCass Sunstein, administrator of the powerful Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget, will return later this month to the post he held previously at Harvard Law School, the White House has announced.

President Barack Obama said Sunstein helped drive a series of “historic accomplishments” on behalf of the American people during his three and a half year tenure.

“From putting in place lifesaving protections for America’s families, to eliminating tens of millions of hours of paperwork burdens for our nation’s citizens and businesses, Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety, and the environment,” the President said.

“Cass has shepherded our review of existing rules to get rid of those that cost too much or no longer make sense, an effort that is already on track to save billions of dollars. With these reforms and his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis, his efforts will benefit Americans for years to come.”

Liberal activists took a different view of Sunstein’s efforts, charging that he failed toadvance federal health and safety rules and tried unsuccessfully to win over corporate interests by offering to roll back regulations they disliked.

Sunstein will be rejoining Harvard Law School as the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and Director of the new Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. 

Obama credited Sunstein with bringing transparency and innovative, low-cost regulatory tools to his administration’s Open Government Initiative; expanding efforts to promote clear, simple disclosure to inform consumers and investors; increasing public participation in the regulatory process and promoting accountability to the American public.

“Cass also oversaw the historic government-wide regulatory 'lookback,' designed to streamline, improve, and sometimes eliminate existing rules -- helping businesses, consumers, and workers alike. That effort has already produced over $10 billion in five-year savings, along with the elimination of tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens. Because the lookback has been institutionalized, and made a regular feature of American government, far greater savings are expected over time. His leadership in promoting disciplined consideration of costs and benefits, and selection of the least costly alternative, helped generate, to date, well over $100 billion in net benefits.”

Boris Bershteyn, OMB’s General Counsel, will be stepping in to serve as Acting OIRA Administrator. Bershteyn currently serves on the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency dedicated to improving the administrative process through consensus-driven applied research. Boris has served as OMB General Counsel since June 2011 and as the Deputy General Counsel from 2009 to 2010. Between his tours at OMB, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Associate White House Counsel, with responsibility for legal issues in regulatory, economic, health, and environmental policy.

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