Grading the Obama administration: Regulatory issues
OMBWatch is a great tool for groups and individuals interested in tracking how our government applies the laws passed by congress to protect the public, with regards to transparency and accountability. This new, three part report (pdf) entitled The Obama Approach to Public Protection: Enforcement, delves into how the Obama Administration creates and administers rules and regulations that protect the public with regard to health, safety and environmental issues and standards. From OMBWatch’s introduction to part one of their report:
This is the first of three OMB Watch reports evaluating the Obama administration’s record on regulatory issues. This report covers health, safety, and environmental rulemaking at federal agencies during the Obama administration from January 2009 through August 2010. The second report will cover many of the same issues and areas as this report but will focus on regulatory enforcement. The third report will focus on the regulatory process, including issues of transparency, participation, regulatory analysis, and scientific integrity, and will more deeply examine the role of the White House, specifically the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in shaping the administration’s record.
Part one is roughly 34 pages long. From part one, a short assessment of their findings:
Based on the research presented here, several trends emerge. First, in stark contrast to the George W. Bush administration, the Obama administration has taken its role of protecting the public seriously and has been far more active in pursuing its rulemaking responsibilities. Obama’s philosophy regarding the role of government is very different from the Bush philosophy. This contrast emerged early in Obama’s tenure as agencies spent considerable time and energy addressing many of the “midnight regulations” the Bush administration enacted or finalized, most of which rolled back essential environmental, public health, and workplace safety standards. While not wholly successful, the Obama administration deserves credit for looking both forward and backward.
Second, the new administration has begun to restore agency resources, recommit leadership to agency missions, and address the toll of neglect from previous administrations. Rebuilding the regulatory agencies, their staffs, and their programs will, however, take years and consistent resources.
Third, in comparison to expectations, the Obama administration has fallen short. The administration has not changed the dysfunctional regulatory process that agencies must navigate. The rulemaking process is full of procedural hurdles that hinder how quickly and, sometimes, how effectively agencies can respond to public needs. The process is tilted heavily in favor of special interests that have the resources and access to impact the substance of rules; the public’s voice is often drowned out.
I will give Obama and his minions this: The Obama administration has made a valiant effort to undo much of the fuckery foisted upon us by Chimpy’s administration, including all the Midnight reg’s issued in the waning days of that friggin nightmare of an administration that were designed to weaken enforcement and protection of the public.It’s a long, tedious process and ProPublica keeps track of all of them here.
The watchdog group, OMBWatch, was created in 1983. The group has championed many issues, including the batshit crazy rightwingers ongoing attempts to defund and close down many of our federal governments regulatory agencies. In 2008 they created FedSpending.org, a searchable database of federal contracts, grants, and loans dating back to FY 2000.
OMBWatch does all this work as a non-profit agency. Any donations to their work are tax deductible.