Agencies’ Regulatory Review Plans To Be Released Soon

Today is the deadline for federal agencies to submit their final plans for reviewing existing regulations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The plans are the second step in a process outlined by the Obama Administration to get rid of redundant, needlessly burdensome and outdated rules.

In a Jan. 18 Executive Order (E.O. 13563), President Obama reaffirmed a Clinton directive that federal agencies should have plans in place to periodically review existing regulations to ensure that rules are up-to-date, relevant and effective. In addition to creating an ongoing plan, the E.O. instructed agencies to submit proposals for specific rules to be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed. The E.O. also stressed the importance of public participation in the rulemaking process and encouraged agencies to make rules accessible on the Internet in addition to publishing them in the Federal Register.

Thirty government agencies and commissions submitted preliminary plans, which were released to the public on May 25. Some agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), provided in-depth discussions of the regulatory review process, indicated how the agency will increase public involvement, and included lists of rules to be re-examined. Others provided cursory descriptions of their look-back process and did not specify which rules they will be reviewing. In addition, while the January E.O. indicated that the plan was supposed to cover "existing significant regulations," many agencies announced that all rules will be subject to the review, no matter what stage they are in the rulemaking process. OMB Watch is concerned that the inclusion of unfinished rules in the reviews may lead to political or industry interference in the rulemaking process.

The Obama Administration provided guidelines (here and here) for the content and timeline of the finalized plans. The final versions are expected to contain more cost-savings information and list specific rules to be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed. They are scheduled to be released to the public on Aug. 22. Check back with OMB Watch later this month for in-depth analysis of these plans.

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