In a January 2011 Executive Order President Obama directed federal agencies to “lookback” at their current rules and regulations to determine if they still make sense and are necessary.
The Executive Order requires agencies to:
– Identify reforms that will produce significant savings, especially for small business.
– Report to the public regularly on their efforts and plans.
– Obtain public comments to see which rules should be simplified, improved or repealed.
Over two dozen agencies have identified more than 500 reforms and they have already proposed or finalized more than 100 of them. A few examples from progress reports filed by federal agencies:
•The Department of Agriculture streamlined its meat and poultry labeling approval process, creating a new, web-based electronic alternative to paper applications, making the process faster, cheaper, and more accurate.
•The Federal Railroad Administration plans to eliminate unjustified regulations imposed on the railroad industry, streamlining and simplifying existing requirements and saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years.
•The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is finalizing a rule eliminating a reporting requirement imposed on truck drivers, doing away with roughly thirty-eight million reports annually – an amount that represents over $50 million in annual paperwork savings.
•The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to eliminate burdensome and unnecessary requirements for mortgage insurance, thus enhancing consumer choice, reducing administrative and paperwork burdens on HUD and the borrowers, and producing savings for prospective borrowers.
This same approach of reviewing the sense and necessity of government rules and regulations can be undertaken at the local level. County Executives, City Mayors and Town Supervisors can issue a similar directive to the department heads that report to them. As a County Legislator, City Council Member and Town Board Member, one can introduce a Resolution seeking a review of the rules and regulations in place in your community.
While elected officials like to pass legislation, it is just as important to remove rules and regulations that require employees and citizens to jump through hoops just because that’s they way it has always been done.
As the governing bodies closest to their people, municipalities usually receive direct feedback and have lots of opportunities to review and reform policies and procedures on a routine basis. Those who don’t will hear about it. In our isolated area, the people who work for the city or who are elected to serve it all live here – we don’t want our money spent foolishly maybe even more so than our public. The problem we have here is compliance with increasing (and increasingly meddlesome) regulations from our state. Cities in our state have found that when they hear the word “deregulation” used at the state level, it almost surely means more regulation of cities and towns. We worked here locally for several years debating and ironing out with various local business and civic leaders how to assess development fees; the state turned around a few years later and mandated “one size fits all” fee schedules for all municipalities based on complaints about 1-2 cities far away from us. This has not served us in our efforts to maintain trust with those we regulate.
Definitely important, and unfortunately it seems like often once regulations are created, they are rarely done away with. It’s important to keep “because this is how it’s always been” out of government as much as possible because it costs industry money when government has outdated or pointless regulations.