We’ve all heard allusions to a “tsunami” of regulations battering U.S. businesses. The reality is there is no “tsunami” and, even if there were, it would be reduced to standing water once the federal rulemaking process is done with it.
Federal agencies are late on completing nearly 80 percent of the rules by congressionally mandated deadlines, a new Public Citizen report finds.
The report outlines several reasons for the delays, including cumbersome requirements upon federal agencies, lengthy reviews by the administration, industry pressure, political interventions, and, sometimes, agencies simply dragging their feet.
Several statutes and executive orders that created procedural obstacles for agencies to issue regulations were added to the rulemaking process in the 1980s and 1990s. For example, Executive Order 12866, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, requires agencies to craft the “most cost-effective rule,” not the rule that most effectively serves public health and safety.
The executive order also requires rules deemed “significant” to be sent to Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. This step creates delays on top of delays. Although the executive order calls on OIRA to complete its reviews of rules within 120 days, it often does not. For example, the data set for Public Citizen’s study — consisting of rules included in OMB’s fall 2011 semi-annual report — included 14 rules that are currently under review at OIRA. Each has been there for longer than 120 days.