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The President’s Executive Order on Improving and Streamlining Regulation by Independent Regulatory Agencies

President Obama issues a new Executive Order asking the independent regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to take new steps to ensure smart, cost-effective regulations, designed to promote economic growth and job creation.

Today, President Obama took the next step in his ambitious and unprecedentedly open process for streamlining, improving, and eliminating regulations – by issuing a new Executive Order asking the independent regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to take new steps to ensure smart, cost-effective regulations, designed to promote economic growth and job creation.  

In a historic initiative, the President has requested the independent agencies to produce plans to reassess and to streamline their existing regulations, and to disclose those plans for public scrutiny. In addition, the President has asked the independent agencies to follow the cost-saving, burden-reducing principles in his January Executive Order on improving regulation.  

With today's action, the President has taken strong steps to improve and reduce rules on the books, and also to improve new rules going forward. With full respect for the independence of the independent agencies and for their impressive efforts in the recent past, the President has asked for their collaboration in the creation of a twenty-first century regulatory system, using state-of-the-art tools and smart approaches to protect public welfare while promoting economic growth and job creation. 

We’ve already begun to get some positive feedback from heads of the independent regulatory agencies, regulatory experts, and members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which has been a major advocate for streamlining the regulatory system in order to stimulate job creation.  See below:

Jeffrey Immelt
Chairman, GE and Chair of the President’s Jobs Council, in a speech today to the Chamber of Commerce
“…we are pleased with the Executive Order the President issued this morning.  Since the Council was created, we’ve been urging the Administration to streamline the regulatory process for independent agencies.  And they listened.  The Council exists to make these kinds of recommendations and to be the catalyzing force to make them happen.”

Richard Parsons
Citigroup Chairman and Member of the President’s Jobs Council
"I applaud the President's call for independent regulatory agencies to review and streamline unnecessary and burdensome regulations. This effort, combined with the work of the Jobs Council, will be an important catalyst to creating jobs and fueling economic growth."

Lew Hay
Chairman and CEO, NextEra Energy and Member of the President’s Jobs Council
"We applaud the President for taking prompt action on an item flagged by his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in the early course of our work. Improving the environment for job creation will require action on many fronts, and this is a productive step.  As leaders of American businesses, we experience the pressures of regulation every day. No one disputes the importance of sound regulation, but as a nation we need to get smarter and sharper in the way we apply regulations.  Greater focus on cost-benefit analysis, looking at alternative ways of meeting the aims of regulation, and deploying regulatory frameworks that encourage constructive compliance are all important.  We hope that every independent regulatory agency will adopt the principles of the Executive Order in the constructive spirit in which they are intended.”

Julius Genachowski
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
“I welcome the President’s Executive Order today.  Since my first day as Chairman, I have made regulatory reform a top priority, improving FCC processes and decisions to support innovation, economic growth, and America’s global competitiveness.  The results have been strong, with robust and growing private investment and innovation throughout the broadband economy.

Shortly after the President’s initial Executive Order, I directed FCC staff to follow the spirit of the Order. We had already conducted retrospective reviews, and incorporated cost-benefit analysis into our decision-making.  I am proud of the progress we have achieved over the past two years toward making the FCC a model of excellence in government.  We have repealed more than 50 outdated regulations and identified 25 sets of outdated data collections for elimination  We have also removed regulatory restrictions on spectrum use and we moved to bring market-based incentive auctions to reallocate inefficiently used spectrum. We have taken action to preserve free data flows and free markets on the Internet, increasing certainty and predictability, and spurring investment in both applications and infrastructure. And we are reforming universal service funding to remove waste and inefficiency and incorporate market-based funding mechanisms.

We’ll continue to work with all stakeholders on these important matters, consistent with our obligations as an independent agency.”

Jon Leibowitz
Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
“President Obama deserves enormous credit for ensuring regulatory review throughout the federal government, including at independent agencies. Although regulations are critically important for protecting consumers, they need to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are up-to-date, effective, and not overly burdensome. For all agencies – independent or not – periodic reviews of your rules is just good government. The announcement raises the profile of this issue, and I think that’s a constructive step.”

Inez Tenenbaum
Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a 30 year history of undertaking various regulatory review efforts, in keeping with our role as an independent safety agency dedicated to protecting Americans from unsafe consumer products that can cause serious injury or death.  Earlier this year, I directed agency staff to reinvigorate CPSC’s voluntary review process, which is intended to look at ways to maximize openness and public participation, and effectively review substantive regulations that may require revision, repeal, or strengthening.

As CPSC moves toward completion of the remaining rulemakings mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which Congress explicitly exempted from many of CPSC’s traditional rulemaking requirements, we have strengthened our nation’s product safety net and now, under my direction, we are aiming to revive our regulatory review program. 

I believe this approach is consistent with President Obama’s call for a sensible and streamlined regulatory system that is protective of public health and safety, and I look forward to working with the President and Congress, as appropriate, as our review process moves forward.”

Jon Wellinghoff
Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
“FERC welcomes the President’s new executive order for a more formal, public reassessment of our regulations and their effect on the economy.  The Commission complied with the spirit of the President’s January order when I directed staff to perform an internal assessment of the effectiveness of our regulations. And as part of our normal procedure, FERC’s regulatory process is open and public. The President’s new directive will be a useful addition to our continuing efforts to ensure FERC regulations are effective, timely and up to date.”

Sally Katzen
Visiting Professor, NYU Law School and former OIRA Administrator
“The executive order is a sound step in furthering the President's regulatory reform initiative.  Many of us have argued for some time that the independent regulatory commissions should be required to engage in cost benefit analysis and be held to the same standards for rigorous review of their rules that apply to the Executive Branch agencies.  This is a most welcome move in that direction.”

Institute for Policy Integrity
New York University School of Law
“President Obama's new Executive Order has the potential to trim unnecessary rules while boosting needed protections. Adequate protection for the environment, public health, and consumers is essential, but periodic review can help ensure they stay up to date.

Independent agencies are charged with regulating some of the most important issues facing the country like Internet policy and consumer safety. Today's move will help improve those regulatory programs by setting up a process of periodic review, while respecting the discretion of these agencies.

The retrospective review that began with the President's January Executive Order, which applies only to Executive agencies, was an important first step. But the plans submitted by agencies so far have focused almost exclusively on paperwork reduction and axing outdated rules.

Going forward, the Obama administration should focus on putting in place a durable system of review that gives equal attention to cutting bad rules and extending protections where needed.”