Indiana University dean to testify at congressional hearing on rise of 'unaccountable' bureaucracy

  • May 23, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- John D. Graham, dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, will testify Tuesday at a congressional hearing on what lawmakers call “the rise of unaccountable federal regulatory agencies.”

Graham is the former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during President George W. Bush’s administration.

In testimony prepared for the hearing of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Graham said federal agencies in recent presidential administrations are increasingly sidestepping oversight by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“The United States has built an impressive system of regulatory oversight procedures over the last 60 years,” Graham said. “This system exists to ensure that the public is adequately represented by its government and that agencies act in the public interest rather than serve a more narrow interest. To ignore the procedures put in place over the last century is not just to ignore good public policy practices; it is to ignore the unfortunate lessons of history and to run the risk of repeating them.”

“At the task force hearing, we will examine the many issues related to the growth in federal regulatory burdens and look for solutions to rein in this problem,” says a statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R.-Va., and Steve King, R.-Iowa, chairman of the committee’s Task Force to Examine the Rise of Unaccountable Federal Regulatory Agencies.

Graham noted a number of controversial, rule-like actions by the federal government with large economic impacts that have escaped Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs oversight. OIRA was established in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter with a goal of reviewing regulatory actions to make sure they were consistent with a president’s policy priorities and the costs and benefits were fully considered. That process can be slow. For example, Graham said the IRS didn’t follow traditional, methodical rule-making procedures when it used a press release and a bulletin to announce a key rule change in the Affordable Care Act that affects employers.

Graham will outline a series of steps Congress should consider, including boosting the resources allocated to OIRA. The agency’s effectiveness has waned because its staff and budget have been cut even as the size of the federal bureaucracy has mushroomed, Graham said.

Other witnesses scheduled to testify include:

  • Sofie Miller, senior policy analyst, Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University.
  • Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate, Public Citizen.
  • Gail Heriot, professor of law, University of San Diego School of Law.

The 3 p.m. hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building will be webcast live.

Related Links

John D. Graham

John D. Graham

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

Jim Hanchett

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Office 812-856-5490