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Changes to fed reg process "stalled," according to report

January 7, 2011
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Despite having a "strikingly different" regulatory philosophy from his predecessor, President Obama has not yet delivered on the changes he promised to the federal regulatory process, according to a new report issued by OMB Watch.

The Obama Approach to Public Protection: The Regulatory Process is the third and final report in a series on public protections produced by OMB Watch, a a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to increase the transparency and accountability of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Director of Regulatory Policy at OMB Watch Rick Melberth called the Obama administration "far more serious" than the Bush administration about crafting workable regulations and enforcement mechanisms to protect people and the environment. However, the report concludes that expected improvements to the process are largely "stalled out."

According to an OMB press release, advances the administration has made are largely due to the appointment of "qualified and dedicated" individuals to lead regulatory agencies as well as a commitment to restoring budgets that had suffered years of cuts. The report also notes that the administration "has made progress on government openness and scientific integrity policies that should prove beneficial to regulatory transparency and the key role that science should play in crafting public protections."

Melberth cautioned, though that the changes to the regulatory process promised early in the Obama administration have not yet become a reality at its midterm point. "Obama has thus far failed to issue a new executive order on the regulatory process that could dramatically change the relationship between the White House, specifically the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and federal regulatory agencies," he said. "Although OIRA now allows agencies more discretion than in years past, the process agencies have to navigate to protect the public is still far too cumbersome." The Obama Approach to Public Protection: The Regulatory Process is available in PDF and browser-based e-book formats at www.ombwatch.org/obamamidtermregprocessreport. The previous reports, one on rulemaking and the other on enforcement of public protections, are available through a centralized page, located at www.ombwatch.org/obamaapproachpublicprotection.

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