Administration

Liberal groups hit Obama for ‘egregious’ regulation delays

A liberal advocacy group is taking President Obama to task for “egregious” delays in regulations ahead of the 2012 election.

{mosads}The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, an alliance of consumer, labor, public interest and other groups, told President Obama in a letter Wednesday that it was “deeply troubling” to hear that officials slowed down the approval process for critical regulations.

“It certainly would appear that prior to the 2012 election, there are documented cases that suggest the delays occurred because of political concerns,” said Ronald White, director of regulatory policy at the Center for Effective Government, a liberal watchdog group that is a member of the Coalition.

White, who helped draft the letter, called the holdup in regulations a “particularly egregious problem.”

A December report by the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency, documented an increase in the average amount of time it took for proposed rules to be issued during the 2012 election season.

The ACUS report, which was first reported by The Washington Post, based its findings partly on interviews with senior officials at 11 federal agencies who complained about the delays.

Since the 2012 elections, the review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has picked up, but there is room for improvement, the coalition argued.

“Progress has been made, but there is an enormous amount left to do, and only three years left in your term to accomplish a long list of vital public protection objectives,” the letter said.

The Coalition also complained about the lack of transparency in the OIRA review process.

In recent years, some federal agencies have been required to seek permission to submit their proposed rules through informal reviews that precede any official reviews by OIRA. These reviews not only delay the process, but are also done behind closed doors, White said.

“We urge you to direct OIRA to accelerate efforts to reduce the regulatory review backlog and prioritize timeliness in reviews going forward,” the letter said.

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