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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Regulations and Rulemaking: A Compendium

Regulations generally start with an act of Congress and are the means by which statutes are implemented and specific requirements are established by executive branch agencies. More than 100 federal agencies issue more than 3,000 final rules each year on topics ranging from the timing of bridge openings to the amount of arsenic in drinking water. Estimates of the cost of federal regulations are in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and estimates of regulatory benefits are even higher.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) requires agencies to submit their final rules to both houses of Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before the rules can take effect, and provides expedited procedures (primarily in the Senate) by which Congress can disapprove agencies’ final rules. Congress has also added provisions to agencies’ appropriations bills to prevent rulemaking in certain areas, to prevent certain proposed rules from being made final, and to prevent the implementation and enforcement of certain final rules.

In recent decades, a variety of reforms have been proposed or put in place by Congress or the President to improve the rulemaking or regulatory process, including (1) requirements that agencies use various forms of regulatory analysis (e.g., cost-benefit analysis or risk assessment) when developing certain regulations; (2) the establishment of offices or procedures within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or Congress for the review of agencies’ rules before or after their issuance; (3) the development of regulatory accounting statements reflecting the total costs and benefits of agencies’ rules; (4) reviews of agencies’ existing rules to determine whether they should be revised or eliminated because they are ineffective, inefficient, or inconsistent with congressional intent; (5) the implementation of an electronic commenting and docketing system for the federal government; and (6) reform efforts focusing specifically on such issues as paperwork burden, information quality, and the protection of small businesses and other small entities.

Date of Compendium: August 30, 2011
Number of Pages: 299
Order Number: IS20381
Price: $29.95. Subscribers to Congressional Research Report pay $14.97
Compendium available via e-mail as a pdf file.
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