The amount of control that the executive branch exercises over regulatory agencies – including those responsible for protecting our air, water, food, and workplaces – has profound implications for public health. On February 4, 2009, President Obama signaled that he will not attempt to control the agencies as tightly as the Bush administration did.

The White House has long used its Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to shape the work of federal agencies, but the Bush Administration took steps to achieve an unprecedented level of control over the activities of the FDA, EPA, and other agencies. It claimed for itself some of the authority that has traditionally belonged to Congress, and created new processes that would delay new regulation and make it harder for agencies to perform some ongoing functions.

Public health advocates were particularly concerned about Executive Order 13422, issued by President Bush on January 18, 2007, to amend Executive Order 12866. After several groups sounded an alarm over these amendments and the New York Times published a story on the topic, two subcommittees in the House of Representatives held hearings on the matter. With Executive Order 13497 on February 4, 2009, President Obama revoked President Bush’s executive order and relinquished this additional executive-branch control over regulatory agencies.

This page includes links to blog posts and other documents related to executive-branch control over regulatory agencies, with a particular focus on EO 13422.


The Pump Handle blog posts on executive-branch control of regulation
1/11/07: Good News: National Academies Tell OMB to Junk its Junk Science Proposal
1/12/07: The Great Divide Over Risk Assessment
1/18/07: Shameless – Another White House move to Paralyze the Regulatory System
2/12/07: What Will the New Executive Order Mean for Mineworkers?
2/13/07: The Executive Order’s Effect on Regulation: Science & Technology Hearing
2/16/07: New CRS Report on Increased White House Control Over the Regulatory Process
2/23/07: The President is not an Emperor: Don Kennedy on Science, Information, and Power
3/16/07: A Failure to Govern: Bush’s Attack on the Regulatory Process
3/26/07: A New Regulatory Czar?
4/5/07: Bush Uses Recess Appointment for Regulatory Position
5/10/07: Even the National Research Council Couldn’t Kill It: Dudley Resurrects OMB’s Risk Assessment Bulletin
5/30/07: Congress vs. The White House on Regulatory Agencies
7/3/07: House Won’t Fund Executive Power Grab
9/21/07: White House clings to risk assessment goals
2/4/09: Obama Frees Agencies from White House Interference

New York Times, 1/30/07: “Bush Directive Increases Sway On Regulation” (subscription required)
The American Prospect, 2/26/07: “Executive Outcomes”
Washington Post, 7/3/07: “House Balks at Bush Order on Regulations

OMB Watch’s Report “A Failure to Govern: Bush’s Attack on the Regulatory Process
OMB Watch’s Executive Order 12866 Web Center
OMB Watch’s Preliminary Analysis of EO 12866 Amendments
Public Citizen: “New Executive Order Is Latest White House Power Grab”
House Committee on the Judiciary Hearing: “Amending Executive Order 12866: Good Governance or Regulatory Usurpation?”
House Committee on Science and Technology Hearing: “Amending Executive Order 12866: Good Governance or Regulatory Usurpation?”
Advancing the Public Interest through Regulatory Reform: Recommendations for President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress