Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
How Does OIRA Make Agencies More Accountable? [No. 86]

How Does OIRA Make Agencies More Accountable? [No. 86]

OIRA is a very important institution for making
agencies accountable for several reasons. The most important thing is probably to recognize
that agencies tend to have a narrow focused mission. Even within a big agency, say the Environmental
Protection Agency that has a broad goal, individual groups will be focused on one particular pollutant
or one particular problem. When you spend 10, 20, or more years of your
life focused on that one issue you know it is the most important problem in the world,
if not the universe, and that no amount of resources devoted to it will be too much. That tunnel vision of agencies may push them
to go to extremes in dealing with the problem that they are responsible for. It also makes them more susceptible to special
interests who may want to lobby or influence how the regulations are made. An advantage of an office like OIRA is that
it sits separate from the individual agencies. It also has an advantage in that it is able
to bring lots of different agencies together. that provides a more cross-cutting perspective
on each individual issue seeing where different agencies may be handling things differently
and where there may be conflict or duplication. Being able to from that perch, be able to
see the trade-offs that all these different possible policies create is very valuable
and it makes OIRA better able to see those trade-offs and have that broader perspective. It makes them much less susceptible to special
interest arguments. Having that cross-cutting vision I think is
one of the reasons why OIRA is a very successful institution. A second reason is that it is a group of individuals
who have skills in regulatory analysis, thinking through not only what are the intended consequences
of this policy but what might go wrong? What are the unintended outcomes? It has that skill set. Then finally it’s part of the executive office
of the president and that means it answers to the person who the entire country has elected. That also it has strengths and weaknesses
because there are times when political folks in the White House may have a point of view
that would diverge from what OIRA’s more analytical analysis might be. In my experience, those were few and that
more often than not OIRA brings that broader perspective but it also has the clout of being
part of the White House, part of the executive office of the president.

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