Nominee for Administrator of OIRA and “the Administrative State”

Neomi Rao, the nominee for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, comes from founding the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University.  The home page for the Center has a good summary of the arguments put forward about the ‘Administrative State’ by proponents of its dismantling:

Problems of administrative accountability occur in all three branches of the federal government.

  • Congress often delegates open-ended authority to agencies, but manages waivers and exemptions for its favored groups.
  • Executive Agencies often seize broad authority from open-ended statutes, regulating through informal mechanisms, and imposing requirements through consent decrees and litigation threats.
  • The Judiciary has posed few barriers to this expansion, because current judicial doctrines require significant deference to agency interpretations.

Administration increasingly occurs in informal and unorthodox ways, allowing for the growth of the federal government outside the checks and balances of the Constitution. In practice, compliance with regulatory requirements imposes heavy economic, political, and social costs on individuals and businesses.

The Senate is expected to approve Ms. Rao’s nomination today.  For more background, see Steve Eder’s article in Sunday’s New York Times. UPDATE: Rao was confirmed by the Senate on 10 July 2017.

ICE should release its death reports so we can know the truth about immigration detention deaths

In a 25 May op-ed, Grace Meng (a senior U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch) and Christina Fialho (an attorney and the co-executive director of CIVIC – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) write that ICE is required to investigate every death in detention and produce a “detainee death report,” but it generally does not publicly release these reports. ICE provides only sparse information about deaths in detention in its news release — the person’s name, nationality, and occasionally immigration or criminal history.

Meng and Fialho report that last June, ICE took the unusual step of releasing reports covering 18 of the 21 deaths of immigrants in detention from May 2012 through June 2015. At the request of HRW and CIVIC,  independent medical experts analyzed the facts and timelines, as documented by ICE’s own investigation. They found that the patients had received appropriate care in only two cases. In 16 of the deaths, the experts found evidence of severely inadequate medical care. In seven of the cases, they concluded that the poor medical care directly contributed to the deaths of these immigrants.

Thanks to the Marshall Project for highlighting this story.

Disappearing Information/Deconstructing Accountable Government — What We Track

How do removals of information and limitations of access pertain to the Administrative State?  What is this thing (if it is, indeed, a thing), from where/whom does the concept come, and where does it lead (cui bono)?  Is it the immutable, first principles, originalist reading of the Constitution its proponents would have us believe — or is it quite mutable to suit the purposes of those it benefits?

This concept and how it relates to what is being done to our government and the career civil servants who make it work will be one of the focuses of Government Information Watch.

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