Environmental law

An advocate needs to know how to approach OMB, either to get it to intervene on your behalf (I have always dubbed this as “offensive use of OIRA” much to the chagrin of OIRA officials) before the agency in the guise of the agency’s not meeting the criteria of the Executive Order or the statute itself or to defend against someone else’s trying to secure such a change in a proposal you favor. Before you approach OIRA either in the form of a letter or a meeting, you would need to do considerable homework: this is like preparing for an oral argument. It is important; it is detailed; it is adversarial. In short, you need to rehearse what you plan to do. If you are coming from outside the government you need to know two things: first, a representative of the agency itself will likely be at your meeting (notice the “likely”; it is not always the case) and any substantive information you supply will be turned over to the agency.

Since this is a simulation, you do not have all the information you would need to prepare for such a submission or meeting. Indeed, even if it weren’t a simulation, you would still need to begin the process by analyzing what you want to present and how.

So your first job is to write a memo to yourself that “issue spots”: given just what you know (and can reasonably find out), what issues would you likely want to raise with OIRA, what information do you need to do a credible job advocating your position, and who would you consult with or hire before you set out to prepare your materials to develop that information and analysis. OIRA is particularly concerned with the costs and benefits of rules. So, some of your issues will likely — almost always! — be what are the likely costs of some of the provisions and what are the likely benefits. Chances are pretty good that while you can spot the issues you would want to raise, you are not able to answer the questions on your list. Even if this were real and not a simulation, you would not be able to answer all of them. You therefore need to consider who you would retain to help you prepare your materials and why you would hire that particular expertise. For example, as you go through, you might think that a proposed rule is imposing something that is too expensive for the benefits it achieves. You would need to sketch why you think that and then decide what type of person would be able to supply the requisite analysis to answer the questions. That person might be an economist, a fish biologist, an engineer, or something else.

The paper will likely consist of a series of bullets; my guess is that it will be around 4-5 pages, but that is a loose estimate. Again, the person representing the agency should prepare a memo similar to that prepared by the others on your team. After all, you may be in that meeting or called to respond to their letter, so you need to be prepared.

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