Director of OIRA to Step Down at End of August

| 03 August 2012

Cass Sunstein, the high-profile director of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is set to resign from his position as the US' regulatory czar and return to teaching at Harvard University, reports Politico.

Advanced remarks made available to Politico from President Barack Obama said Sunstein had been instrumental in, "Eliminating tens of millions of hours of paperwork burdens for our nation's citizens and businesses, [showing] that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety, and the environment."

"Cass has shepherded our review of existing rules to get rid of those that cost too much or no longer make sense, an effort that is already on track to save billions of dollars," Obama said. "With these reforms and his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis, his efforts will benefit Americans for years to come."

Sunstein's tenure at the agency hasn't been without controversy, either in general or with regard to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Liberal critics of the agency have been frustrated with its approach to regulatory policy-deemed to lean toward industry-observed Politico. The agency, which must approve all proposed final rules before they are allowed to come into effect, was also involved in lengthy holds on several FDA regulations, including the Unique Device Identification (UDI) rule and a rule on performance standards for laser products.

A Void in Permanent Leadership?

It remains unclear whether the White House will be able to easily appoint a new director to OIRA. Under federal rules, the head of OIRA must be confirmed by the Senate, where even a single senator can place a hold on a confirmation proceeding and delay a vote for months or longer. Given the high-profile status of the office and its impact on regulations, OIRA may be without a permanent director for some time.

According to OIRA's webpage, its second-in-comment after Sunstein is Associate Administrator Jeff Weiss, who would likely be made Acting Director in the meantime.

Read more:

Politico - Exclusive: 'Regulatory czar' Cass Sunstein returning to Harvard


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