Saturday, January 26, 2019

Rules and Regulations: Ms Rao

The Times had an article on the Trump administration problems with the Administrative Procedure Act.  It seems the courts have dinged the administration a number of times for not following the act, not providing for notice and opportunities for public comment on policy changes and not doing good enough analysis of policy alternatives to support the decision.

I didn't have a great regard for the act during my bureaucratic days--it was a pain.  A pain in particular because mostly there was no one to present an opposing view.  Most "regulatory" agencies have two or more sides interested in their decisions: should the agency be strict or lenient in writing regulations.  But ASCS/FSA was giving out money.  While there were groups like CATO or AEI who disputed the whole basis of many/most of the farm programs, they didn't usually involve themselves in the regulations, just trying to make their case to Congress and the administration.  There were issues: most notably payment limitation and sodbuster/swampbuster/conservation compliance where you'd find significant interest, but even those didn't compare to the hot issues before the regulatory agencies.

One thing the article misses is the role of OMB.  Basically the writer says Trump administration appointees to agencies were either ignorant of the requirements of the APA or rushed their process.  That's true enough, but OMB does review regulations through its OIRA. Who is the head of the office? Neomi Rao  Who is Ms Rao--the Trump nominee to sit on the DC Circuit Court, the court which reviews challenges to agency actions.

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