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Regulatory Reform Progress

OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein provides an update on the Administration's regulatory reform efforts.

To promote economic growth and job creation, we need cost-justified, evidence-based regulation. Which is why, almost exactly a year ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order calling for a government-wide review of regulations to reduce costs, to eliminate unnecessary burdens, and to get rid of what the President has called “absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”  Twenty-six executive agencies produced final plans, spanning over 800 pages and offering more than 500 proposals. Sixteen independent agencies followed suit, responding to a historic request from the President to eliminate unjustified costs on their own.

And today, agency updates on regulatory reform progress can be found here.

As these updates show, a great deal has happened in a short time.  For example:

  • HHS has finalized a rule that will facilitate and promote telemedicine, helping hospitals and patients in rural areas and saving around $65 million over the next five years.
  • The Department of Transportation has proposed a rule to extend compliance dates on dozens on traffic control requirements imposed on states and local government, potentially saving millions of dollars in the process.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has issued a new Global Entry rule that will allow many people to reduce their waiting time at airports.
  • The Department of Labor will shortly finalize a rule to harmonize its hazards warning requirements with those of other nations, increasing safety and saving employers over $1.5 billion over the next five years.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a final rule that will remove over 1.9 million annual hours of redundant reporting burdens on employers and save more than $40 million in annual costs.
  • To eliminate unjustified economic burdens on railroads, the Department of Transportation is reconsidering parts of a rule that requires railroads to install equipment on trains.  DOT has proposed to refine the requirements so that the equipment is installed only where it is really needed on grounds of safety. DOT expects initial savings of up to $325 million, with total 20-year savings of up to $755 million. 
  • The Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule to modernize and streamline poultry inspections, saving the private sector over $1 billion over the next five years while increasing safety in the process.
  • EPA has proposed to eliminate the obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations, on the ground that modern vehicles already have effective air pollution control technologies.  The anticipated five-year savings are around $440 million.
  • The Departments of Commerce and State are undertaking a series of steps to eliminate unnecessary barriers to exports, including duplicative and unnecessary regulatory requirements, thus reducing the cumulative burden and uncertainty faced by American companies and their trading partners. These steps will make it a lot easier for American companies to reach new markets, increasing our exports while creating jobs here at home.
  • To promote flexibility, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new rules to reduce burdensome regulatory requirements now placed on hospitals and doctors. These reforms are expected to save more than $5 billion over the next five years.
  • The Federal Communications Commission has already eliminated over 190 regulations.

These changes are already producing measurable savings for consumers and businesses. Over the next five years, more than $10 billion in savings are anticipated from just a small fraction of the hundreds of initiatives now underway.

The effort to look back at existing rules, and to streamline, fix, or eliminate those that aren’t working, is now becoming a regular part of agency practice. One of the most important features of the current process is the continuing request for public suggestions – for ideas about regulations that might be streamlined, improved, reformed, or eliminated. We are already eliminating billions of dollars in unjustified costs; as the plans are implemented, we expect to save a great deal more.

Cass Sunstein is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs