Regulations.gov, the federal government’s main pathway for online rulemaking, has gotten a user-friendly makeover, the Office of Management and Budget announced this week. The revamp follows President Obama’s executive order last year promoting more public participation and includes “innovative new search tools, social media connections and better access to regulatory data,” Cass Sunstein, administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in an official blog post.
You can read Sunstein’s post here; one innovation that he highlights is the ability to search regulations by broad categories such as as “defense, law enforcement and security” and “banking and financial.” The new version went live Sunday and, to judge from a quick spin around the site, definitely seems more nimble and accessible than its predecessor. But we’re interested in hearing from folks who use regulations.gov. on a regular basis. If you’ve got some thoughts on the new version, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.
Cass Sunstein, the Obama administration’s “regulatory czar,” gave a speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon. Regular readers are probably familiar with most of its content — the open government directive, OMB’s dashboards for transparency and IT projects. But Sunstein made a couple of interesting points on the limits of open government initiatives.
The Senate voted 57-40 Thursday to approve the nomination of Cass Sunstein to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, ending a months-long debate over Sunstein’s writings as a professor and his ideological views.
At least two senators had placed holds on Sunstein’s nomination, due to concerns about his opinions on gun control and animal rights. Sunstein, a Harvard University professor, met with the senators, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and John Cornyn of Texas, and assured them he respected the Second Amendment and would not limit hunting or impose stricter gun control. The holds were then lifted.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture on Sunstein’s nomination, limiting time for debate. His nomination was discussed Thursday in between tributes to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., praised Sunstein’s selection on the Senate floor before the Wednesday cloture vote. Lieberman chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which cleared Sunstein’s nomination months ago.
I’m convinced that Professor Sunstein has superior qualifications for this office and a strong commitment, if confirmed, to guide OIRA in conformity with the law and public interest above all.”
Last month I asked “Where’s Cass?” â€” Cass being Cass Sunstein, the president’s supposed pick to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The Obama transition team announced that it would nominate him in January, but the nomination wasn’t made official.
Not until today, at least: The president sent Sunstein’s nomination to the Senate. (You can read the profile I wrote of Sunstein in January here.)
We reported back in January that the president planned to nominate Harvard professor Cass Sunstein to head OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
So where’s his nomination?
The White House’s nominations list doesn’t mention Sunstein. (In fact, if you search for him on the White House Web site, you won’t get any results.) The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee tells me it hasn’t heard a word about Sunstein’s nomination. And the White House hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
One of President-elect Barack Obama’s most interesting nominations is Cass Sunstein, his pick to head OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
We’ll profile him in next Monday’s Federal Times â€” like I did this week with Nancy Killefer, Obama’s new chief performance officer â€” but a few early thoughts:
Sunstein is a law professor at Harvard University; before that, he taught at the University of Chicago. He’s an old friend of the president-elect from his UChicago teaching days. And he’s written extensively on government regulation, including his most recent book, Nudge.
The book makes the case for what Sunstein calls “libertarian paternalism.” You might think that sounds like an oxymoron. But Sunstein, and his co-author, UChicago professor Richard Thaler, say it offers a “third way,” something between being simply pro- or anti-regulation.
In many domains, including environmental protection, family law, and school choice, we will be arguing that better governance requires less in the way of government coercion and constraint, and more in the way of freedom to choose. If incentives and nudges replace requirements and bans, government will be both smaller and more modest.
So what’s a “nudge”?