White House Memo on Regulatory Accountability

March 21, 2012

On Tuesday, March 20, Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) sent a memo to the heads of all administration departments and agencies directing them to weigh the cumulative regulatory burden on small businesses and startups when crafting rules. In the memo, Sunstein points to a January 2011 Executive Order which also calls on agencies to consider the costs of cumulative regulations.

One recommendation Sunstein makes to address the cumulative impact of regulations is to utilize public outreach and active engagement with affected stakeholders—namely small businesses and representative organizations. The memo went on to recommend early consultation and advance notice to stakeholders as well as other regulatory agencies to harmonize rules where applicable, and encourage the use of Advance Notices of Public Rulemakings to garner input on new regulations to avoid overlapping existing rules.

In addition to calling for early involvement of stakeholders, Sunstein also recommended rulemakers take careful consideration of the cost-benefit analysis, and better coordinate the timing of new rules that impact a particular industry. The memo also underscored the need to analyze the cumulative impact of both existing and new regulations with the goals of harmonizing and streamlining multiple rules and to “ensure against unjustified, redundant, or excessive requirements…”

The memo is a positive step in working toward regulatory reform and easing the massive small-business regulatory burden, however OIRA has always faced an uphill battle as a relatively lean federal office with oversight of a massive federal bureaucracy.

Please click here to view the full memo.