By Sam Berger, Associate Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

The Biden-Harris Administration is investing in America, lowering costs for families, combating climate change, and growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up—and using every available tool to improve Americans’ lives, including Federal regulations. Today, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is releasing its Fall Regulatory Agenda, which details additional actions that Federal agencies are considering over the coming months as well as recently completed actions. These actions build on and accelerate this Administration’s progress in delivering for the American people.

Federal regulations address a range of important issues and affect many different communities—from families with children to workers to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Biden-Harris Administration has made a concerted effort to increase public involvement in the development of regulations, particularly early in the process. Public engagement has significant benefits for agencies and the public alike. Hearing from people most impacted by a particular issue or problem can help agencies better understand how to effectively address that issue, leading to better, more targeted rulemaking that is more responsive, effective, durable, and equitable. It also can increase trust in government, as people see that their views are considered and can help shape government decisions.

Consistent with the President’s Executive Order, “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” and OIRA’s subsequent implementing guidance on broadening public participation and community engagement in the regulatory process, this is the first Regulatory Agenda in which agencies discuss their efforts to encourage public participation and engagement in the rulemaking process and share how this engagement has informed the development of regulatory priorities.

As reflected in the Regulatory Agenda, agencies have taken numerous steps to engage the public in their rulemakings, and the information they have received has helped to shape regulatory actions. Notable instances of public participation include:

  • The Small Business Administration conducted four Tribal consultations and a listening session related to aspects of a proposed rule that would change the Native community benefits reporting requirements in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program; that feedback contributed to SBA’s decision to remove these provisions of the proposed rule in finalizing it.
  • The Social Security Administration held listening sessions with stakeholders regarding a proposed rule that would streamline how it calculates Supplemental Security Income benefits in which stakeholders noted additional changes to the program they viewed as particularly beneficial. Stakeholders also provided written comments in response to the proposed rule highlighting further changes that would make the program more effective. In part due to these comments, the Social Security Administration has proposed two additional rules to further streamline and improve the program.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has held over 40 external meetings, as well as engagement with Tribes, small businesses, and other entities, to inform its ongoing work to develop a proposed rule addressing risks posed by the chemical 1-bromopropane.
  • The Department of Transportation’s proposal to ensure air carriers and ticket agents provide prompt ticket refunds (including ancillary fees) to passengers when a flight is cancelled or significantly changed has been informed by four public meetings, including a public hearing.

Agencies will continue to identify opportunities for supporting meaningful public engagement in the regulatory process, and reflect that engagement in subsequent Regulatory Agendas. And OIRA will continue to engage with the public itself in order to seek feedback on how it can further encourage public engagement—particularly early engagement—in the regulatory process.

Regulations set the rules of the road in a range of circumstances that affect our daily lives. Improving regulations helps keep our air and water clean, makes transportation more reliable, protects consumers and workers, and leads to a stronger and more equitable economy. We look forward to continued public engagement in the regulatory process to ensure that the Administration’s policies deliver the most value to the American people, helping them at work, at home, and in their communities.

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