White House Wrestles Regulatory Control From Agencies

"Under a new proposal, the White House would decide what and when
the public would be told about an outbreak of mad cow disease, an anthrax
release, a nuclear plant accident or any other crisis," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "The White House Office of Management and Budget is trying to gain final control over release of emergency declarations from the federal agencies responsible for public health, safety and the environment. The OMB also wants to manage scientific and technical evaluations ... of all major government rules, plans, proposed regulations and pronouncements." But former top agency officials and public interest groups oppose OMB's proposal, saying it "could damage the federal system for protecting public health and the environment." John Graham heads the OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In December 2001, the Washington Post reported that Graham had asked top trade group lobbyists to compile a list of the regulations that they found overly burdensome. "This was a secret campaign to circumvent the process," an unnamed lobbyists told the Post. "With Graham in that job, we figured we could get whatever we want." Before joining the White House, Graham ran the industry-funded Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.