Senate Confirms OIRA Chief

July 12, 2017

On July 10, the Senate confirmed 54-41 President Donald J. Trump’s nominee to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Neomi Rao. As OIRA administrator, Rao will oversee the federal regulatory process, with power to approve or send back to regulators for changes new rules and federal government information requests.

The Trump administration has been outspoken and active on their pledge to reduce regulatory red-tape. One of the first actions of President Trump was to sign an Executive Order (EO) directing regulators that for every rule promulgated, two shall be identified for elimination. The EO also established a zero-growth regulatory financial cost cap for 2017.

Rao founded the Center for the Study of the Administrative State, part of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Previously, Rao held positions throughout the federal government, including: associate counsel and special assistant to President George W. Bush; counsel for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; and clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

During her relatively smooth confirmation hearing, Rao expressed support for Mr. Trump’s EO and stated there is a clear role for cost-benefit analyses that go beyond just the direct costs, but that eliminating regulations also should be done carefully, with a similar analysis before abolished.