Months of work aimed at slashing red tape imposed by agencies across the federal government are culminating Tuesday in the release of final regulatory reform plans that will save billions, the head of the effort said Tuesday.
Writing on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, says that agencies are set announce plans which include “hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency.”
President Barack Obama, Sunstein says, “has directed agencies to give careful consideration to both benefits and costs, to promote public input and listen to stakeholders, to simplify and harmonize rules, to select approaches that promote innovation, and to consider flexible approaches that reduce burdens and maintain freedom of choice.”
And, building on that, the administration is announcing that White House chief of staff Bill Daley has instructed all members of the cabinet to work “to minimize regulatory costs, avoid imposing excessive regulatory burdens, and prioritize regulatory actions that promote economic growth and job creation,” says Sunstein, whose office is part of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Last week, OMB director Jack Lew issued a memo along the similar lines, asking that most agencies cut their spending by 5 to 10 percent in their 2013 budget proposals, and that their choices favor economic growth and job creation.
The final regulatory plans come after more than two dozen preliminary plans were released in May, opened for public comment and then revised. In the Wall Street Journal, Sunstein details some of the plans being released, which he describes as “reforms … span[ning] a wide range.”
Among them: The Department of Health and Human Services will propose ending “unnecessary regulatory and reporting requirements now imposed on hospitals and other health care providers,” a measure that could save $4 billion over the next five years. The Labor Department is announcing rules to simplify and improve hazard warnings for workers, which will save an estimated $2.5 billion over the next five years.
The Transportation Department, meanwhile, is set to announce rules expected to save $340 million or more by cutting out unnecessary regulation of the railroad industry. And, by the end of this year, the Internal Revenue Service is set to cut 55 million hours in paperwork burdens by consolidating reporting requirements and streamlining tax forms, Sunstein says.
The plans being announced Tuesday “explicitly recognize that the regulatory look-back is not a one-time endeavor,” says Sunstein, who is on leave from his professorship at Harvard Law School to serve in the Obama administration. “Agencies will continue to revisit existing rules, asking whether they should be updated, streamlined or repealed. And they will do so in close consultation with the public. Ideas are welcome at any time.”
“As the president has said, ‘We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another,’” Sunstein concludes. “We will continue to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs — and thus to strengthen our economy — while taking sensible, cost-effective, evidence-based steps to protect public health and welfare.”
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