Obama wants reviews of Bush regulations

Obama administration officials have asked agencies to postpone approving any new regulations until new officials have had time to review them, according to two memos released this week.

Agencies should to consider moving back by two months the date when a rule would become effective, Rahm Emmanuel, the White House’s chief of staff, wrote in a Jan. 20 memo. He told agencies to immediately reopen the comment period for the rules for 30 days. He also asked agencies to wait before publishing any new regulations in the Federal Register.

The memo directs agencies to tell the Office of Management and Budget about any controversial rules.

To determine whether a rule raises policy concerns, OMB Director Peter Orszag, in a supplemental Jan. 21 memo, told agencies to consider whether a rule reflects relevant facts, is reasonable and considers the agency’s legal obligations. He also wants agencies to check whether Bush administration officials followed rule-making procedures, were transparent in their work and adequately considered objections to the rule.

Finally, Orszag wants to know whether the facts and analyses that officials used to create the rule were available to the public and whether the final rule had enough support as it went through the rule-making process, the memo states.

“If any of these rules do not satisfy these standards, you should consider extending their effective date for 60 days for the purpose of enabling further review,” Orszag wrote. However, he added that no rule should get an indefinite extension.

Following the 30-day comment period, agencies should evaluate both the rule, which an agency may wish to amend, and whether to extend the date when the rule would take effect, Orszag wrote.

This regulatory review isn't unique to the Obama administration. Bush administration officials went through the same review process in 2001, halting new rules left over by the Clinton administration until the new leadership could review them.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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