By Sam Berger, Associate Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Today, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is issuing guidance to promote greater public engagement in OIRA’s regulatory review process. The guidance is being issued after receiving input from members of the public through a comment process and listening session. In Executive Order 14094, Modernizing Regulatory Review, President Biden called on OIRA to consider changes to its process for meeting with members of the public regarding regulatory actions under OIRA’s review—known as “E.O. 12866 meetings” after the Executive Order that sets forth the process for regulatory review—with the goals of expanding the range of stakeholders OIRA hears from, including those from underserved communities, while also increasing the effectiveness and transparency of those meetings. This guidance is part of a broader effort by OIRA to encourage public engagement from those that have not historically engaged with the regulatory process.
Federal regulations address a range of important issues and can affect daily life for many. That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration is ensuring Federal regulations improve Americans’ lives by investing in America, lowering costs for families, combating climate change, and growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up. It is up to OIRA to manage the government-wide review of certain proposed Federal regulatory actions to ensure these rules benefit the American public. Public engagement is key to accomplishing this, and the Administration has made a concerted effort to increase public involvement in the development of regulations. Any member of the public can schedule a meeting with OIRA on a draft regulation while it is under OIRA’s review. While not a substitute for submitting comments on an agency’s proposed rule, these meetings offer an opportunity for individuals to provide OIRA with information that may be relevant for the regulatory review process.
Today’s guidance, along with an explanation and response to public input, describes a number of steps OIRA is taking to encourage feedback from a broad array of stakeholders through these meetings, including making it easier to request meetings through OIRA’s online portal; providing plain language information on OIRA’s website to help individuals prepare for these meetings; posting a video how-to guide (in English and a Spanish version by OIRA Administrator Richard Revesz) on how to request meetings; and offering periodic and accessible public trainings on effective participation in these meetings. It also sets forth OIRA’s process for disclosing meeting data in an open, machine readable, and accessible format.
While the guidance sets forth a number of changes to facilitate participation and improve transparency, other important aspects of these meetings will remain unchanged. OIRA will still work to schedule meetings on a regulation under review with any individual or organization that requests one. The scheduling of meetings will not depend on the identity or viewpoint of the meeting requester. And these meetings will continue to be an opportunity for individuals outside the government to share whatever views, data, and analysis on a draft regulatory action they choose.
Federal regulations can affect many different communities—from families with children to workers to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Members of the public are often the best situated to identify and explain the potential effects of a regulation, identify impacts that can be difficult to measure, and offer creative approaches to challenging problems. OIRA benefits from receiving a diverse array of perspectives from the public during regulatory review. I hope that the guidance released today will facilitate public input from a broad array of stakeholders, while also increasing the effectiveness and transparency of these meetings.