Next Step in Looking Back

To promote economic growth and job creation, we are placing a high priority on streamlining our regulatory system and eliminating unnecessary regulatory costs. To that end, we’ve taken some big steps recently to ensure that Federal agencies revisit their existing rules and remove those that are out-of-date, too costly, or just plain dumb.

In January, President Obama initiated an unprecedented and historic process for streamlining and eliminating outdated and unnecessary regulations. In a short time, a lot has happened. We have already undertaken reforms to remove tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens for large and small businesses and over $1 billion in annual regulatory costs.

Just last week, the President took this burden-reducing initiative a large step further by calling on independent regulatory agencies to follow the same requirements that other agencies now follow. This new Executive Order to independent agencies calls for retrospective regulatory review, reducing costs and streamlining requirements. More than that, it asks independent agencies to follow key principles for smart regulation going forward, including public participation and stakeholder engagement, simplification and harmonization of rules, flexibility, and burden reduction. This move has been strongly advocated by the business community and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness – and it has been met with enthusiasm from inside and outside of government (including the independent agencies themselves).

Today, we issued guidance (PDF) to independent agencies to help them get started in implementing the Executive Order. The guidance asks the independent agencies to engage the public, to simplify their rules, and to prioritize reforms that will offer big economic savings. It also offers a template to promote clarity and transparency in regulatory reform – and to change the culture of Washington, by hardwiring rigorous empirical analysis and continuing scrutiny into the regulatory system. 

The Administration will continue to work with the independent agencies to help ensure that we have a smart, streamlined regulatory system across the Federal government so that American businesses can grow and compete in a global economy.

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

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