the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Memoranda - Regulatory Flexibility, Small Business, and Job Creation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT:        Regulatory Flexibility, Small Business, and Job Creation

Small businesses play an essential role in the American economy; they help to fuel productivity, economic growth, and job creation.  More than half of all Americans working in the private sector either are employed by a small business or own one.  During a recent 15-year period, small businesses created more than 60 percent of all new jobs in the Nation.

Although small businesses and new companies provide the foundations for economic growth and job creation, they have faced severe challenges as a result of the recession.  One consequence has been the loss of significant numbers of jobs.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, establishes a deep national commitment to achieving statutory goals without imposing unnecessary burdens on the public.  The RFA emphasizes the importance of recognizing "differences in the scale and resources of regulated entities" and of considering "alternative regulatory approaches . . . which minimize the significant economic impact of rules on small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions." 5 U.S.C. 601 note.

To promote its central goals, the RFA imposes a series of requirements designed to ensure that agencies produce regulatory flexibility analyses that give careful consideration to the effects of their regulations on small businesses and explore significant alternatives in order to minimize any significant economic impact on small businesses.  Among other things, the RFA requires that when an agency proposing a rule with such impact is required to provide notice of the proposed rule, it must also produce an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that includes discussion of significant alternatives.  Significant alternatives include the use of performance rather than design standards; simplification of compliance and reporting requirements for small businesses; establishment of different timetables that take into account the resources of small businesses; and exemption from coverage for small businesses.

Consistent with the goal of open government, the RFA also encourages public participation in and transparency about the rulemaking process.  Among other things, the statute requires

agencies proposing rules with a significant economic impact on small businesses to provide an opportunity for public comment on any required initial regulatory flexibility analysis, and generally requires agencies promulgating final rules with such significant economic impact to respond, in a final regulatory flexibility analysis, to comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

My Administration is firmly committed to eliminating excessive and unjustified burdens on small businesses, and to ensuring that regulations are designed with careful consideration of their effects, including their cumulative effects, on small businesses.  Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, as amended, states, "Each agency shall tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, including individuals, businesses of differing sizes, and other entities (including small communities and governmental entities), consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations."

In the current economic environment, it is especially important for agencies to design regulations in a cost-effective manner consistent with the goals of promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.

Accordingly, I hereby direct executive departments and agencies and request independent agencies, when initiating rulemaking that will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, to give serious consideration to whether and how it is appropriate, consistent with law and regulatory objectives, to reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses, through increased flexibility.  As the RFA recognizes, such flexibility may take many forms, including:
 

  • extended compliance dates that take into account the resources available to small entities;
  • performance standards rather than design standards;
  • simplification of reporting and compliance requirements (as, for example, through streamlined forms and electronic filing options);
  • different requirements for large and small firms; and
  • partial or total exemptions.

I further direct that whenever an executive agency chooses, for reasons other than legal limitations, not to provide such flexibility in a proposed or final rule that is likely to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, it should explicitly justify its decision not to do so in the explanation that accompanies that proposed or final rule.

Adherence to these requirements is designed to ensure that regulatory actions do not place unjustified economic burdens on small business owners and other small entities.  If regulations are preceded by careful analysis, and subjected to public

comment, they are less likely to be based on intuition and guesswork and more likely to be justified in light of a clear understanding of the likely consequences of alternative courses of action.  With that understanding, agencies will be in a better position to protect the public while avoiding excessive costs and paperwork.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA