Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, January 24, 2014

Fuchs applies La Follette training as he evaluates regulations for OMB

Patrick Fuchs

With nearly every regulation that crosses Patrick Fuchs' desk at the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President, he uses what he learned in the La Follette School's policy analysis and microeconomics courses.

As a policy analyst, the 2011 alum helps to implement the President's Executive Order 13563, which requires agencies to select regulatory approaches that maximize net social benefits. "I review all of the significant regulatory actions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Railroad Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, and few other smaller transportation and health agencies," Fuchs says. "Significant actions generally involve more than $100 million in economic effects, material budget impacts, or novel legal or policy issues."

Fuchs notes that most of the complex regulations he reviews involve statistical methods or other evaluation and estimation techniques that require the knowledge he gained during the La Follette School's three-part quantitative methods sequence.

"My La Follette education is absolutely essential to my job," says Fuchs, who enrolled at La Follette to earn a Master of Public Affairs degree through its accelerated program. University of Wisconsin–Madison seniors accepted into the program can begin taking core public affairs courses and finish their graduate degrees with one additional year as full-time graduate students.

"The regulations that cover public sector entities call for tools from my public management and public budgeting courses," he adds. "The broader curriculum design, focusing on the production of analysis applicable to or directly for actual public entities, made the start to my career significantly easier."

Fuchs also reviews public participation in the regulatory process and identifies outdated, ineffective or excessive regulations. "I look at how information is collected from these agencies with intent of increasing the utility of the information or of decreasing burden on the public," he says.

Fuchs first started with OMB as a Presidential Management Fellow, a prestigious two-year leadership training program that matches outstanding graduate students with career opportunities in the federal government. The fellowship included a foreign service rotation at with the U.S. Department of State within the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague. "During that time I examined critical European economic issues and met with Dutch government officials, academics and private sector leaders to expand U.S. relationships and report to U.S. officials in Washington and Brussels," Fuchs says.

While in Europe, Fuchs represented the United States at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Regulatory Policy Committee session in Paris. "The committee assists member and non-member economies in building and strengthening their regulatory reform efforts," Fuchs says. "It was a privilege to present to the international delegation recent reform efforts in the United States."

The La Follette School played a pivotal role in landing the PMF, Fuchs says. "The La Follette School helped me secure an internship at the U.S. Government Accountability Office during my first year and to navigate the PMF process during my second year. In addition, my experience as a research assistant at the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offered practical experience in transportation policy, which helped me during the PMF process."

Fuchs still appreciates the support he received from professors and staff to get students ready to contribute in the public and non-profit sectors. "I always felt they were accessible and attuned to student needs," he says. "Through La Follette, I had access to practitioners in the field and broad research opportunities at a national university. In at least five courses I was connected with actual public sector leaders to analyze pertinent issues or general organization dynamics, and I also was constantly interfacing with state government and the public during my research assistantship. And I always enjoyed working with and learning from other students."

Fuchs also values the alumni network and is doing his part to advise current students, including one who was part of the La Follette in D.C. program. "2000 alum Jason Bittner, now the director of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, mentored me throughout my time at CFIRE, helping me understand policy issues in practice and always serving as an example of a highly effective and respected public sector manager," Fuchs says.

All told, Fuchs is excited about his career in public service, a career path that took root when he took undergraduate courses with La Follette School faculty that in turn led him to the La Follette School for graduate study. "It is an honor to go to work every day and advance principles that help the greater good," he says.