Friday, February 03, 2012

A Panel Discussion About Connecting Democracy

Back in December, I posted about the publication of a volume in which an article I wrote appeared. Well, for anyone up in the vicinity of Harvard Law School, there is going to be, on February 7, a panel discussion of the volume, Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication. Peter Shane, one of the volume's editors, as well as David Lazer, an author of one of the chapters, will be taking part in the panel discussion. There will also be some well-regarded experts in the areas of law, communications, and information technology weighing in on the book.

It looks like a great event!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Chinese Flag

At the Chinese New Year parade in downtown DC, there were hundreds upon hundreds of flags of the Republic of China, strung from lamp pole to lamp pole on the streets of Chinatown.

And then there were these two wayward guys, with their homemade flags of the People's Republic China.

These were literally the only two PRC flags at the entire event.

We overheard plenty of hushed commentary as we walked by, and one older lady tried to snap our picture, but that was about the extent of it. No open criticism (or praise, for that matter). So, in the end, we have no idea who might have been more in the cross hairs...the native of Guangdong province or the non-Chinese guy.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Outside Communications And OIRA Review Of Agency Regulations

A paper I wrote with Jen Deets and Forrest Maltzman, two GW colleagues, was recently published in a special issue of the
Administrative Law Review. (Click here to access the full paper.)

The issue takes stock of the process by the White House reviews significant regulatory actions being proposed by agencies ranging from the Department of Transportation to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The current administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (the White House body in charge of clearing agency regulations) contributed an essay to the issue, as did past OIRA administrators who served under presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush.

As for us three academics, we focused on the role that communications between OIRA personnel and individuals and organizations from outside of the White House play in the shaping of the regulatory review process and the outcomes associated with this all-important process.
Here is a brief summary of what we did and what we found...

Although the review of agency regulations by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has been a fundamental aspect of the rulemaking process for three decades, there is little empirical evidence regarding the operation and effects of regulatory review. In this research, we examine a longstanding expectation regarding the involvement of outside parties in OIRA review, namely, that participation on the part of regulated entities is tied to reviews that take particularly long to complete and that are especially likely to result in changes to agency rules. Taking advantage of information about outside communications that OIRA discloses via the Internet, we find that although participation was associated with lengthy review times and rule revisions during the period between 2002 and 2006, these delays and amendments were not specifically linked with the involvement of business firms and industry organizations. These results imply that outside communications do not, as a general matter, serve as an institutionalized forum for regulated entities to slow OIRA reviews and alter the content of agency regulations.

OIRA review in practice provides the White House with opportunities to consider with particular care those rules that have proven especially difficult to handle via the ordinary regulatory process. These are regulations where stakeholder involvement has been especially widespread and disagreements between participants have been more pronounced than usual. In such pluralistic stakeholder environments, OIRA review serves as a tool for the White House to evaluate and shape executive branch actions in a more fundamental way than when rulemakings have hewed closely to textbook modes of regulation. In the end, the notion of heightened White House attention to issues and disputes that have frayed bureaucratic routines differs significantly from the idea of business domination as an explanation for the role that outside communications, as a general matter, play in the process and outcomes of OIRA regulatory review.

Enjoy the paper, which relegates the details of the statistical analysis to the appendix


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blue Has Always Thought Of Herself As A Person!

And we thought our days of sticking our heads through cutouts were over, now that Julie and Z are teenagers...


Monday, January 30, 2012

Snow Geese!

A real treat of our mid-winter jaunt to the beach was catching thousands of snow geese in action. During the day, huge flocks of these beautiful birds were spied in the waters not too far offshore. Then, as dusk came calling, the birds all took to the air and flew over our heads on the Rehoboth boardwalk, heading for their evening destinations...the large, empty fields of the Delmarva Peninsula. It was a spectacular sight to see, one that our pedestrian digital camera cannot do justice to. Click here for a more professional treatment of the subject...