02/09/2011 11:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

'The Watchdog': War On Regulation Just A 'Charm Offensive'?

Welcome to our new blog, "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receives very little coverage.

To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care reform and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips or suggestions, send them to

02/09/2011 12:52 PM EST

What To Do When OSHA 'Shames' Your Company: A Lawyer's Advice

Got a few possible workplace safety violations and the inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are sniffing at your heels?

Here's a handy guide on how to avoid being 'shamed' by OSHA, courtesy of a few lawyers eager for retail business clients:

You should be on alert for OSHA inspections which could result in such negative news releases. One indication that OSHA may be seeking to “shame” your company in a negative news release is if OSHA sends multiple Compliance Safety and Health Officers (“CSHOs”) to inspect your facility. This indicates that the agency has targeted you for a higher level of scrutiny and it is willing to commit more resources to your inspection and your facility.

Another signal that OSHA intends to issue a news release and make a splash following the inspection of your facility is if OSHA issues subpoenas for documents or depositions in connection with its inspection. Senior OSHA compliance representatives or OSHA’s lawyers will take those employee depositions. Attention from these compliance officers should raise your antenna because it may indicate that OSHA is planning to use your company as an example.

02/09/2011 11:36 AM EST

Watchdog: IMF 'Badly Missed' Risks That Led To Financial Crisis

The Financial Times reports:

The International Monetary Fund badly missed the risks that led to the global financial crisis because of a naive admiration of light-touch US and UK financial regulation and a “groupthink” mentality, according to its watchdog.

A sharply critical report from the fund’s independent evaluation office, published on Wednesday, said that the IMF was very late to spot the severe interconnected problems in the world’s advanced economies. As late as the summer of 2008, the IMF’s management was confident that “the US has avoided a hard landing” and “the worst news are [sic] behind us”, the report said.

02/09/2011 11:32 AM EST

The Wake-Up Call: War On Regulation Just A 'Charm Offensive'

- The Heritage Foundation calls bullshit on the Obama administration's "war on regulation", saying it's just a "charm offensive." "This is a phony war on regulation," Heritage's James Gattuso writes. "And it’s a blown opportunity for progress on a problem that need not be partisan. After all, no president did more to eliminate outdated regulation than Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. Even Clinton, certainly no deregulator, achieved some significant reforms."

To show that this new initiative is more than talk, Obama must follow up on his rhetoric with action. He should identify specific regulations in need of reform while requiring agencies to identify others. He should ask independent agencies to do the same.

- In a court decision that gladdened the hearts of investigative journalists, U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled Tuesday that federal agencies are guilty of insufficient disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act when they give reporters unsearchable PDFs of documents.

- Here's the latest batch of warning letters sent by the FDA to companies that it is investigating.

- "Watchdog agency watches itself in new report": The Government Accountability Office's internal investigation concludes that errors in a recent report about for-profit colleges were not the result of personal bias or conflicts of interest.

- Among Obama's possible efforts to push job creation: "For one day a week, factories may adopt the wage and safety laws of a Southeast Asian country of the owner's choice." (The Onion)