In an atmosphere of increased congressional scrutiny of the cost and benefits of federal regulations, Howard Shelanski, the new Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), told the House Judiciary Committee regulatory reform subcommittee that the retrospective review of regulations is a crucial way to ensure that the regulatory system is modern, streamlined, and does not impose unnecessary burdens on the public. Even regulations that were well crafted when first promulgated, testified Mr. Shelanski, can become unnecessary or excessively burdensome over time and with changing conditions. The retrospective review of regulations on the books helps to ensure that those regulations are continuing to help promote safety, health, welfare, and well-without imposing unnecessary costs. Agencies filed their most recent retrospective review plans with OIRA in July.
OIRA completed its review of those plans a few weeks later and agencies have posted them on their websites. The OIRA retrospective review efforts to that point had already produced significant results, bringing near-term cost savings of more than $10 billion to the US economy. As agencies move forward with their current plans, he related, OIRA will work with them to achieve even greater gains. Many of the retrospective review efforts particularly benefit small businesses, he noted.
Mr. Shelanski importantly related that the largest area of OIRA’s work is the review of regulations promulgated by Executive Branch departments and agencies. Indeed, the OIRA Administrator said that his priorities are directly rooted in the relevant Executive Orders.
A set of Executive Orders establishes the principles and procedures for OIRA’s regulatory reviews. Most significantly, E.O. 12866 and E.O. 13563 delineate processes for regulatory review and establish standards and analytic requirements for rulemaking by departments and agencies. Other important Executive Orders focus on the reduction of regulatory burdens through the retrospective review of existing rules (EO 13563 and 13610), and on international regulatory cooperation (EO 13609).
President Obama has been a strong champion of reform of the fed eral regulatory process. This was evidenced by two Executive Orders issued during his first term: Executive Order No. 13563, 76 Fed. Reg. 3,821 (Jan. 21, 2011) and Executive Order No. 13579, 76 Fed. Reg. 41,587 (July 14, 2011).
EO No. 13563 set out general requirements directed to executive agencies concerning public participation, integration and innovation, flexible approaches, and science. It also reaffirmed that executive agencies should conduct a cost-benefit analysis of regulations.
EO No. 13579 states that independent regulatory agencies should follow EO No. 13563. To facilitate the periodic review of existing significant regulations, EO No. 13579 said that independent regulatory agencies should consider how best to promote retrospective analysis of rules that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.
Mr. Shelanski was previously the Director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission. Before that, he served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission from 1999 to 2000 and as Senior Economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1998 to 1999.