Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
|Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs|
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA // oh-EYE-rə) is an office of the United States Government that Congress established in the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act. OIRA is located within the Office of Management and Budget, which is an agency within the Executive Office of the President. It is staffed by both political appointees and career civil servants, who have been carrying out the same kinds of economic analysis and related analyses for the past 20 years. In addition to reviewing draft regulations under Executive Order 12866, OIRA reviews collections of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and also develops and oversees the implementation of government-wide policies in the areas of information technology, information policy, privacy, and statistical policy.
Executive Order 12866 describes OIRA's role in the rulemaking process. In it, the President directs agencies, to the extent permitted by law, to follow certain principles in rulemaking, such as consideration of alternatives and analysis of impacts, both benefits and costs. As the Executive Order directs, OIRA reviews agency draft regulations before publication to ensure agency compliance with this Executive Order.
The issuance of Presidential regulatory principles, and the centralized review of draft regulations, has been part of regulatory development for 30 years in one form or another. This began with President Richard Nixon's "Quality of Life" program, and continued in the 1970s with President Gerald Ford's requirement in Executive Orders 11821 and 11949 for agencies to prepare inflation/economic impact statements and with President Jimmy Carter's Executive Order 12044 on "Improving Government Regulations."
The OMB review process became more formalized in 1981 with President Ronald Reagan's Executive Order 12291, which was in effect from 1981 to September 1993 (the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations and the first nine months of the Clinton administration). In September 1993, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12866. During the Reagan administration, the White House had reviewed 2,000 to 3,000 regulations per year, but under Clinton, the total dropped to between 500 and 700 annually. 
As amended by President George W. Bush's Executive Order 13422, the Executive Order covers federal agencies' "guidance documents", in addition to regulations. The Order's stated purpose is to ensure that agencies, to the extent permitted by law, comply with the regulatory principles stated in Executive Order 12866 and that the President's policies are reflected in agency rules. It also specifies procedures for the resolution of conflicts between or among agencies.
In July 2007, a controversy arose in the U.S. Congress over George W. Bush's Executive Order 13422 (signed by Bush in January 2007 and due to take effect on July 24, 2007) giving the OIRA additional powers. The House of Representatives voted to prohibit OIRA from spending federal money on Executive Order 13422.
The OIRA Administrator from September 2009 to August 21, 2012 was Cass Sunstein, who was succeeded by Acting Director Boris Bershteyn (on Thursday, April 25, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Howard A. Shelanski of Pennsylvania to the U.S. Senate for confirmation as the next permanent Director). From 2001 to March 2006, OIRA was headed by John D. Graham, who departed to accept the deanship of the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
The OIRA can sit on proposed rules for an excessive long time, eg Bisphenol A regulation stalled after 3 years.