White House Solicits Comments on Recommendations for Increased Public Engagement in Federal Rulemaking

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a set of recommendations for broadening public engagement in the federal regulatory process and invited public input on the recommendations through March 10, 2023. The recommendations were developed in response to a commitment to support greater public engagement in the rulemaking process included in the Fifth U.S. Open Government National Action Plan released December 2022. OIRA stated that the recommendations were informed by written submissions and a public engagement session held in November 2022. Thus, OIRA’s solicitation for public input on the recommendations provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders to potentially shape future federal regulatory reform actions.

In total, OIRA released 14 potential action items under three overarching recommendations:

  • Help the public and agencies better understand the regulatory process and the role of OIRA, including identifying opportunities for engagement.
  • Make regulatory material more accessible and usable by members of the public.
  • Proactively engage communities early and throughout the regulatory process to efficiently use government and community time and resources.

The potential action items range from the development of new materials or guidance to increased public disclosure and new uses for the semiannual Unified Regulatory Agenda.

To help inform public feedback on the recommendations, OIRA also posed the following specific questions:

  1. Which of the recommendations would most effectively broaden public engagement, particularly among underserved communities, and are any of the recommendations unhelpful?
  2. Are there obstacles to greater public participation, especially for underserved communities, not addressed by the recommendations?
  3. Are there existing materials that would be effective in revising and implementing the recommendations? What new materials are needed?
  4. How can intermediaries — such as trade associations or coalitions — be helpful in reaching individuals and small organizations or businesses, where have they been successful in doing so, and where might they be insufficient?

Anyone (e.g., companies, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, or state, local, or tribal governments) with experience participating in the federal regulatory process should evaluate these recommendations, consider how potential actions may improve or impair their future participation, and share feedback with OIRA.

For more information about the recommendations and request for public feedback, OIRA is hosting a virtual listening session at 3 p.m. EST on March 7, 2023. Written comments or recorded feedback must be submitted to publicparticipation@omb.eop.gov by 5 p.m. EST on March 10, 2023. Additional information can be found at the following White House webpage: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-regulatory-affairs/broadening-public-engagement-in-the-federal-regulatory-process/.

This post is as of the posting date stated above. Sidley Austin LLP assumes no duty to update this post or post about any subsequent developments having a bearing on this post.