Bush to appoint controversial choice as head of OIRA

Dudley nominated to lead OMB regulatory affairs office

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The Bush administration said today it intends to do a recess appointment of Susan Dudley to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Policy in the Office of Management and Budget despite concerns from several watchdog groups.

President Bush nominated Dudley in July, but Congress did not act on the nomination because groups were distressed about her stances while she was director of the regulatory studies program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

OMB Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said Dudley’s record is of “anti-regulatory extremism.”

“She has opposed some of our nation’s most basic environmental, workplace, safety and public health protections,” said Rick Melberth, OMB Watch’s director of regulatory policy.

Public Citizen, another watchdog group, also said it is concerned about Dudley’s stance on issues such as air bags, drinking water and energy deregulation.

“Bypassing the Senate is a sign that the president does not have faith that Dudley could get through the process on her own merits,” said Robert Shull, Public Citizen’s deputy director for auto safety and regulatory policy. “Instead of facing up to her record on the issues, the president has decided to evade public accountability and just hand her this incredibly powerful office.”

By appointing Dudley, Bush brings in someone who understands how OIRA works. Before her position at George Mason, Dudley was OIRA’s deputy chief of the Natural Resources Branch from 1985 to 1989. She also worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1984 to 1985 and was an economist adviser to the commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1989 to 1991.

OMB Director Rob Portman disagreed with concerns about Dudley’s past.

“She brings a balanced and comprehensive understanding of the regulatory process, and her principled approach emphasizes careful research and transparent analysis,” Portman said in a release. “She is well-suited to build on the administration’s record of sound regulatory policy in defense of the public interest, public health and economic opportunity.”

Dudley replaces John Graham, who left in February 2006.

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