Sunstein Watch: Randall Lutter on Loan, Says OMB -- Yet WashPost Reports He's Actively Involved

by Rena Steinzor | December 03, 2009

As reporters dug deeper on our post yesterday about the return of Randy Lutter, chief economist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the George W. Bush Administration, to “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein’s office, OMB spokesman Tom Gavin worked to downplay the significance of Lutter’s reappearance. Gavin confirmed that Lutter was in fact ensconced in OIRA, as reported by Inside EPA this morning, but said he was merely “on detail” from the FDA as a career civil servant who would report up the chain of command to Sunstein. The implication, of course, is that Lutter would have little influence on policy.

How heartwarming that argument must have been for civil servants at OIRA and elsewhere. As my colleague Sid Shapiro and I argue in a forthcoming book (The People's Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public, arriving in spring), civil servants are the backbone and future hope of good government. Precisely because they play such an important role, their policy positions from past lives deserve scrutiny. And Randy Lutter is not a typical civil servant. Rather, he rose through the ranks both at OIRA and within FDA, while advancing the most rigid iterations of cost-benefit analysis. In fact, he is so widely known that word of his return to OIRA was spread to outside advocates like me by agitated civil servants, who see his return as further evidence that that OIRA is going to continue ...

Sunstein Watch: Randall Lutter to OIRA?

by Rena Steinzor | December 02, 2009
For a number of days now, we’ve been hearing rumors that Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” was on the verge of hiring conservative economist Randall Lutter to join him at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Few personnel developments could be more discouraging to those hopeful that the Obama Administration will fulfill its many commitments to revitalize the agencies responsible for protecting public health, worker safety, and natural resources. The best thing that can be said about ...

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