Monday, July 30, 2012

Reader Comment – 07-29-12 – OMB Delay

An anonymous Reader left a comment on Sunday’s post about another reader comment about the withdrawal of the CFATS personnel surety ICR. This anonymous Reader (maybe the same one, who knows, he’s anonymous) asked two interesting questions:

“I wonder why OMB took over a year without action? Is that standard practice for OMB?”

Year Long Delays

Let’s look at the second question first. Looking at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (an agency of the OMB) web site we can see that since July 30th 2009 there have been 13,931 information collection requests filed. Of those ICRs, 228 have been withdrawn by the submitting agency. Of those ICRs, 4 were withdrawn one year or more after their submission. The record was 20 months for an EPA ICR for their turbidity monitoring requirements submitted on January 29th, 2010.

This is certainly not a common action by the OMB, but it is not unique. Most new ICR’s are processed by OIRA in just a couple of months. But every-once-in-awhile the Office drags their feet until the submitting agency drops the ICR.

Why the Foot Dragging

The first thing that we have to remember is that the OMB exists in the Office of the President. While it has a specific regulatory review authority and purpose it is also a political office. In that arena it is responsible for ensuring that the regulatory actions of the various Executive Branch agencies are kept within the political agenda of the President.

This particular CFATS ICR was a political nightmare. In its two formal iterations the personnel surety program drew negative comments from just about every commenter that submitted comments. Labor and management equally detested the program and a number of Congressmen have questioned. The comments of everyone were practically ignored by the crafters at ISCD who moved forward with the politically flawed program.

My guess is that someone at OMB finally convinced the folks at ISCD (and the new Director, David Wulf, really had nothing to do with formulating either the ICR or the underlying program) that the ICR had no hope for approval. With the November election still in doubt the Administration’s hope for putting its mark on the program might depend on an early approval of the ICR.
We will see how quickly the revised program is rolled out.

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