White House Gains Guidance Power Through New Order
President Bush has signed an executive order that provides the White House much more authority over guidance that federal agencies issue to regulated industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 1/30).
According to the Washington Post, federal agencies issue guidance -- "informal advice that falls short of official rules yet can still cost companies millions of dollars to comply with" -- to "interpret key policy and technical questions, often at the request of industry" (Skrzycki, Washington Post, 1/30).
Under the order, published on Friday in the Federal Register, federal agencies must have a regulatory policy office overseen by a political appointee who supervises the development of guidance (New York Times, 1/30). The order requires federal agencies to submit any guidance with an impact of $100 million or more on the economy to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.
In addition, the order requires federal agencies to identify the "specific market failure" that leads to the need for new regulations (Washington Post, 1/30).
OMB General Counsel Jeffrey Rosen said, "This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable."
However, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said, "The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government's own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern but great news for special interests" (New York Times, 1/30).