Toolbox: New CPR Database Helps You Track Secret Industry-OMB Meetings

November 30, 2011

If an environmental journalist had been watching the log of secret White House meetings with industry lobbyists, they would have seen the August 16, 2011, meeting that included the American Petroleum Institute's Jack Gerard, the National Association of Manufacturers' Jay Timmons, OMB-OIRA head Cass Sunstein, EPA Air boss Gina McCarthy, and White House Chief of Staff William Daley, among other heavy hitters — and known something was up. They might have gotten the jump on President Obama's subsequent September 2, 2011, announcement that he had ordered EPA to withdraw its health-based national ozone standard.

The OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) log of outside meetings and phone calls offers a pretty good device for tracking the secret lobbying. But details of what is said between lobbyists and the White House officials who rewrite agency rules remain largely secret.

Now the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has made it a lot easier to trace systematically the influence of industry lobbyists by compiling some 10 years' worth of OIRA log entries into a searchable database. It allows you to track whether OMB is meeting its deadlines, whether a meeting is linked to an OIRA regulatory review, and whether OIRA changed the rule.