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1) June 7 -- Comment period extended to June 20, 2023. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-12231

2) Apr 7 -- Request for Nominations of Experts to Peer-Review Draft Guidance on Conducting Analysis of Federal Regulations

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is drafting proposed revisions to its Circular A-4: Regulatory Analysis. This notice requests public nominations of experts to participate in an independent scientific peer review of an updated draft of Circular A-4: Regulatory Analysis. The 21-day public comment period to provide nominations begins April 7, 2023, and ends April 28, 2023. Nominations must be received on or before April 28, 2023.
Since 2003, OMB Circular A-4: Regulatory Analysis has provided guidance to Federal agencies on the development of regulatory analysis as required under Section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, and a variety of related authorities. OMB is drafting proposed updates to the Circular, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/DraftCircularA-4.pdf as well as a preamble that offers further context for prospective public commenters and peer reviewers, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/DraftCircularA-4Preamble.pdf. Public comments on these materials is being solicited via a separate notice and, in addition, the proposed updates will be peer reviewed in accordance with OMB’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review (the Bulletin) and the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act. The independent, external scientific peer review will be managed by an OMB contractor. This notice requests public nominations of experts to participate in the  independent scientific peer review of the proposed updates to Circular A-4.
OMB is seeking nominations of individuals with demonstrated and nationally-recognized expertise in economics and various aspects of the disciplines of public policy and administrative law that relate to the application of benefit-cost analysis to regulatory policy. A balanced review panel should include experts who possess the necessary domains of knowledge and a breadth of economic and scientific perspectives to provide rigorous peer review. Consistent with the Bulletin, all nominations will be evaluated for real or perceived conflicts of interest and independence. To achieve the necessary breadth, OMB seeks nominees with expertise in the following areas: Primary fields:

• Applied microeconomics
• Macroeconomics
• Financial economics
• Industrial organization
• Public economics
• Welfare economics
• Risk management and risk assessment, including both policy and scientific expertise
• Regulatory process, including administrative law, as it intersects with regulatory and benefit-cost analysis
Secondary fields and sub-fields of primary fields:

• Behavioral economics
• Qualitative methods for policy impact analysis
• Applied statistics and econometrics
• Environmental and natural resource economics
• Agricultural economics
• Transportation economics
• Labor economics
• International trade
• Economics of health and medicine

To form the list of candidate external reviewers, nominations submitted in response to this notice will be considered along with candidates identified using traditional techniques (e.g., a literature search) to identify additional qualified candidates in the disciplines listed above. After consideration of public nominations, a final multi-disciplinary panel of eight to ten peer reviewers will be selected from the pool. Selection criteria to be used for panel membership include: (a) distinguished and nationally-recognized technical expertise, as well as experience; (b) availability and willingness to serve; and (c) real or perceived conflicts of interest and independence.  
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-07362
3)  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requesting comments on proposed Circular A-4, “Regulatory Analysis.” Comments are requested on the proposed Circular on or before June 6, 2023.
The proposed Circular is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2023/04/DraftCircularA-4.pdf. A preamble to the proposed Circular is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/DraftCircularA-4Preamble.pdf.  
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-07364

Current memorandum: OMB Circular A-4, Regulatory Analysis (09/17/2003) https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/legacy_drupal_files/omb/circulars/A4/a-4.pdf
4) Apr 6 -- OMB blog: Strengthening Our Regulatory System for the 21st Century  
By OIRA Administrator Richard L. Revesz

To meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us, our country needs an efficient, modern regulatory system that delivers for the American people. Effective regulation can provide critical benefits to the public such as clean air and water, reliable transportation, consumer protection, employment protections, and a stronger economy. But the fact is, parts of the federal regulatory review process haven’t been updated since the 1990s, and since then we’ve seen substantial advances in scientific and economic knowledge. That’s why on Day One of his Administration, President Biden issued a directive to modernize the regulatory review process.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking two significant steps to do just that. First, the President signed an executive order that will focus federal agency and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) time and resources where they can have the greatest positive effect, and bring more voices into the regulatory process. And second, OIRA is issuing proposed revisions to its government-wide guidance on regulatory analysis, Circular A-4, to help agencies better account for the full range of benefits and costs of their regulatory actions.  

Taken together, these new steps will produce a more efficient, effective regulatory review process that will help improve peoples’ lives—from protecting children from harmful toxins and lowering everyday costs for families, to improving rail safety and growing our economy from the middle out and bottom up.

Updating the Regulatory Review Process for the 21st Century

Regulatory analysis helps policymakers better understand the effects of various policy choices, with more rigorous analysis reserved for rules with larger benefits and costs. However, the threshold for when such analysis is used has not changed since it was first established decades ago. Since that time, economic circumstances and other factors have changed a great deal. In order to focus OIRA and agency resources where they are most beneficial, the executive order increases the threshold to $200 million from $100 million in annual effects and directs that it be adjusted for GDP growth every three years. This change will help return the number of regulations subject to more rigorous review to levels consistent with earlier administrations.

The executive order also takes steps to encourage greater public participation in the regulatory review process. Members of the public are often the best situated to identify and explain the potential effects of a regulation, identify impacts that can be difficult to measure, and offer creative approaches to challenging problems—but it’s not always easy for them to participate and have their voices heard. That’s why the executive order takes steps to encourage greater public participation when developing regulations, particularly by individuals who may feel the largest effects of regulations but have not previously participated in the regulatory process. OIRA has already been engaging with members of the public to seek feedback on ways to improve public participation in the regulatory process, and the executive order will build on this progress.

Improving Benefit-Cost Analysis

At the same time, today OIRA is also proposing new revisions to its regulatory analysis guidance—known as Circular A-4—to help ensure agencies better account for the effects of their regulatory actions. This guidance was last updated in 2003, and since then we’ve seen significant advances in economic understandings and tools. Among other things, the proposed revisions aim to help agencies better account for the value of future regulatory effects and provide the greatest benefits for the American people. Specifically, the revision updates the discount rate that translates future costs and benefits into present-day values, provides greater support for analyzing distributional effects, and provides more thorough guidance for accounting for risk and uncertainty.

The proposed revisions to Circular A-4 reflect input from experts across the government, but OIRA recognizes that there is significant expertise outside of the government as well. That’s why we are seeking public comment on the proposed revisions, which will also undergo peer review. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comment on Circular A-4.

In addition to the steps to modernize regulatory review, OMB is also proposing revisions to Circular A-94, last revised in 1992, which provides guidance on how federal grant money is spent each year. These proposed revisions will help better target federal funds for crucial projects by updating for decades of scientific and economic advances and knowledge. The proposed revisions will help ensure that federal funds have the greatest possible impact, whether they provide for building levees to protect communities or transportation infrastructure to connect Americans. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comment on Circular A-94.

At the end of the day, the changes we’re announcing and proposing today are focused on ensuring our regulatory system works for the American people. This isn’t about more or fewer regulations—it’s about getting regulations right. Modernizing regulatory review will help ensure that agencies have the information they need to make decisions that will strengthen our economy, our communities, and our country.

We look forward to continuing to help ensure that federal regulations deliver the most value to the American people, helping them at work, at home, and in their communities.  
5) Brookings event April 12 -- A discussion of the Office of Management and Budget’s updated benefit-cost guidelines
On Wednesday, April 12, the Brookings Institution Center on Regulation and Markets and the Niskanen Center will jointly host a conversation with Richard Revesz, administrator of the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and Zachary Liscow, chief economist of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Sanjay Patnaik, director of the Center on Regulation and Markets, will moderate the discussion on proposed updates to OMB Circulars A-4 and A-94, which guide government benefit-cost analysis. The current circulars are several decades old, and these updates aim to reflect new developments in scientific and economic understanding. Niskanen Center President Ted Gayer will give opening and closing remarks.


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