Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lobby study highlights role of interest groups and obscure public office

Professor Susan Webb Yackee Professor Susan Webb Yackee

An article published this week in the Washington Post by La Follette Director Susan Webb Yackee and political science doctoral student Simon Haeder outlines their findings of lobbying efforts an at obscure regulatory office in the White House, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

The two focused on the hundreds of groups that lobbied the OIRA – not the legislatures – on regulations. The two suggest that the bulk of policymaking has steadily shifted from crafting statutes to writing and issuing regulations, like the OIRA does.

According to the authors, they examined all regulations reviewed by OIRA from January 2005 through June 2011. They found that draft Final Rules that agencies submit to OIRA for review and Final Rules promulgated after OIRA’s suggested changes often differ substantively. In other words, they wrote, “agencies appear to rewrite the rules — and therefore, reshape the law — based on OIRA’s suggestions.”

The authors suggested that news stories and scholarly research often ignore how much corporate, political, and interest groups can affect laws after they’re passed.

“If you’re interested in understanding how the statutory sausage is made, keep your eyes on rulemaking, all the way through the president’s OIRA review process for agency regulations,” they wrote.

The full article is here: