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In 2011, President Obama called on federal agencies to undertake an unprecedented government-wide regulatory review to identify rules on the books with outdated requirements or unjustified costs. Retrospective review continues to be a key priority for the Obama Administration. Since the release of Executive Order 13563 in 2011, federal agencies have been continually identifying outdated and duplicative regulations and have taken action to modify or eliminate them where possible. And the Administration has made significant progress. For example, the Department of Transportation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have already finalized significant retrospective review initiatives. To date, the retrospective review process is expected to achieve $20 billion in savings over five years, and is on track to eliminate over 100 million paperwork burden reduction hours.
Today, agencies released their bi-annual retrospective review plans, identifying recently completed initiatives as well as outlining what they are working to accomplish on retrospective review over the next year. As their plans outline, agencies across the government have continued to find ways to improve and streamline regulations on the books. Here are a few of the successes and ongoing initiatives worth noting:
Agency retrospective review efforts complement and advance many initiatives designed to improve the interaction of the American people with their government. For example, through Executive Order 13604, the Administration has worked to integrate ongoing agency efforts to identify specific changes to existing regulations that would help streamline, modernize and improve the efficiency of the federal permitting process for infrastructure projects. Pursuant to Executive Order 13659, DHS in coordination with the Department of Treasury is leading a whole-of-government effort to streamline the import/export process by developing a national “single window” through which businesses will submit the data required for international trade transactions. This effort will result in substantial burden reduction by significantly decreasing paperwork obligations and reducing redundant information collections.
In conjunction with producing their bi-annual retrospective review plans, federal agencies have also recently submitted to OMB written plans for stakeholder engagement. The goal of these plans is to get input on promising themes and specific targets for review and reform from parties with a stake in regulation. For example, the Department of Labor (DOL) launched an interactive “IdeaScale” website to seek public input on developing its preliminary retrospective review plan. This initiative allows individuals to submit their own recommendations for retrospective review and to vote on others. DOL plans to expand on this robust, technology-driven engagement effort to identify opportunities for regulatory reforms. This initiative will feed into the Department’s July 2015 retrospective review report.
We are proud of the progress made to date on retrospective review, but we know we can do more. To that end, we have begun to step up our collective efforts in the remaining months of the Administration to significantly accelerate progress and to better institutionalize retrospective review. We are focusing our efforts in four key areas:
As the President said in 2011, “We should have no more regulation than the health, safety, and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet that commonsense test.” OIRA, together with our agency colleagues, is determined to build upon the progress we have made since the President spoke those words. We will continue to expand the use of retrospective review, carefully consider ideas and input from the public as we make regulatory changes, and work to further institutionalize retrospective review in order to make government work more efficiently and effectively for the American people. We look forward to showing even more progress going forward.
Howard Shelanski is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.