Richard Revesz – President Biden’s nominee to become the Administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – told senators at a September 29 nomination hearing that he is targeting updates to existing regulatory analysis standards if he is confirmed to the new post.
OIRA is tasked with reviewing regulations from the executive branch, approving government information collections, establishing government-wide statistical practices, and coordinating Federal privacy policies, according to the OIRA website. The office is comprised of six subject matter branches, which is led by the appointed administrator.
At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Revesz talked about pushing forward ongoing efforts to update OMB’s Circular A-4, which guides development of regulatory analysis, but which has not been updated in 20 years.
“Circular A-4 should be updated to account for advances in scientific and economic understanding in how the costs and benefits of regulation affect the American people and are distributed across populations,” Revesz told committee members.
He emphasized that his approach to the new job will include fact-based evaluations and actions, along with identifying progress that OIRA has made to date on efforts to update Circular A-4.
“I’m a strong believer in evidence-based decision making,” he said.
“If confirmed, my first step would be to receive an update from staff on the progress that has been made thus far,” then evaluate further steps necessary to accomplish the White House’s goals, Revesz said.
Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., said at the hearing that the OIRA administrator post is the “the most important job that no one has ever heard of.”
The Biden administration has been pushing for an update to Circular A-4, and issued a memorandum for that purpose as part of its first-day directives on Jan. 20, 2021.
The memorandum broadly directs OMB to identify ways to modernize and improve regulatory review processes, “including through revisions to OMB’s Circular A-4, Regulatory Analysis, 68 Fed. Reg. 58,366 (Oct. 9, 2003), to ensure that the review process promotes policies that reflect new developments in scientific and economic understanding, fully accounts for regulatory benefits that are difficult or impossible to quantify, and does not have harmful anti-regulatory or deregulatory effects.”
The January 2021 memorandum calls on OMB to produce a set of recommendations to improve the regulatory review process, including “concrete suggestions on how the regulatory review process can promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.”
“The recommendations should also include proposals that would ensure that regulatory review serves as a tool to affirmatively promote regulations that advance these values,” the memorandum says.