Regulatory review will save agencies more than $1 billion 'in the short run,' reduce paperwork burden

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The Office of Management and Budget released for comment May 26 the preliminary plans for 30 agencies to "look back" at regulations that impose an undue compliance burden. White House officials said the documents are being posted on whitehouse.gov in order to promote transparency and citizen feedback on the proposed regulatory revisions.

"This is the start of the process," said Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, while speaking on a press call. "The next step is to hear from the American people on these plans and to see how we can make them best suited to the current economic environment and from the difficult one to where we can promote economic growth and job creation while also protecting public health and safety."

The 30 reports, totaling over 500 pages in documentation, will save government workers and citizens tens of millions of hours typically spent on paperwork, said Sunstein. He also projected a quick return of $1 billion "from a few initiatives from a few departments."

Sunstein cited the Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Transportation as two agencies that used the mandate to affect real change--HHS is proposing over 50 regulatory reforms and DOT is proposing over 70 reforms.

"This is not a one-time project. This is the beginning of what will become a new way of doing business. Every year we'll keep looking at the regulations that are on the books and this is the beginning, not the end, of finding these efficiencies," said Jack Lew, director of OMB.

"What we're really determined to do here is to change the regulatory culture in a way that will hard wire empirical evidence and data into our system for rethinking regulation," said Sunstein. "Some of the things we're doing will take a rule-making process to do. Some of them the process is already well along and we're going to be able to deliver immediately."

Federal agencies were first asked to revisit their regulations and make the process more transparent in a Jan. 18 Obama administration executive order. By May 18 each agency was required to submit a preliminary plan for the periodic review of existing significant regulations to OIRA.

Agencies were also instructed to improve disclosure of regulatory compliance information, so as to foster "fair and consistent enforcement of important regulatory obligations." They were also told, in a Jan. 18 blog post by Lew, to make compliance information public, accessible, downloadable and searchable.

"The president's executive order has a number of principles and directives in it that are designed to go beyond the polarizing, anachronistic decades-old debate over regulation by asking for public participation, greater simplification, careful attention to costs and benefits, choice of least burdensome alternative, use of least flexible tools and that's going to be guiding us as we go forward with these plans to get them in the best possible shape," said Sunstein.

For more:
- listen to the press call
- see all 30 preliminary regulatory "look-back" plans
- see the Jan. 18 executive order

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