Regulatory agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission should not have to submit their proposed budgets to the Office and Management and Budget before bringing them to Congress, according to a study released today.
The Senate Government Affairs Committee report, part of an overall package on regulatory reform, states that putting OMB in the commissions' budget process causes needless delay and undercuts the commissions' independence. Besides, the report says, "OMB almost always cuts the budget requests."
"What is desired," the report goes on to state, "is direct access to information from the independent commissions on funding a legislation, unfiltered by the OMB processes. That is not to say that OMB opinions on those matters would go unconsidered. What it does mean is that OMB should not be permitted to cloud or unduly influence the independent judgement of those agencies."
The committee also is recommending that the regulatory commissions be given authority to conduct court cases and appeals independent from control and supervision by the Justice Department and to hire top staffers without White House review or clearance.
"The independent commissions were created by Congress with the express intention of keeping them independent from direct control and supervision of the President," said Committee Chairman Abe Ribicoff, (D-Conn.)
"Unfortunately," he added, "the commissions frequently are not independent."
Ranking minority committee member Charles H. Perry (R-Ill.) said, "Through the years, every so often a president tries to rein-in the several regulatory commissions, forgetting or choosing to ignore the fact that Congress intended them to be independent of Executive (branch) control.
The report also cites a need to remove "promotional or developmental responsibilities" from agencies also charged with regulating - notably in the areas of transportation, food and banking regulation.
The overall report was issued in its entirely today, although sections have been released, to the press over the past week. One of the general conclusions of the report, which was two years in preparation, was a call for the creation of a General Accounting Office unit to assist agencies in solving problems of overlapping or conflicting regulation.