Lankford Shines Light on Lack of Transparency in Federal Government

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford joined Rep. James Comer (R-KY) to introduce the Guidance Out Of Darkness (GOOD) Act, which requires agencies to publish their regulatory guidance on the internet in a single, easily accessible location. This will dramatically increase the transparency of agency regulatory actions for all entities that need to comply—including small businesses, workers, and American households. 

Lankford and Comer were joined in introducing the bill by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) along with and House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-GA), and Congressman Bob Good (R-VA).

“Why is it so hard to find federal regulations? Creating a single online location for federal regulations increases transparency, saves Oklahoma businesses and state and local leaders time, and is common sense. Oklahomans have the world at our fingertips daily, but for some reason the federal government continues to drag its feet into the 21st century. I thought this problem was solved when President Trump signed an executive order to require agencies to publish their regulations in a single location, but in the first days of his term, President Biden revoked that executive order. Other than having President Trump’s name on it, I can’t understand why President Biden would not want the federal regulatory process as simple, transparent, and straightforward as possible. I look forward to ending the political back-and-forth,” said Lankford.

“The federal bureaucracy often operates in the shadows, especially when issuing regulatory guidance Americans are expected to follow. It’s unfair and burdensome to expect Americans to dig for and decipher which guidance applies to them, and they should not be penalized for missing guidance they didn’t know about or couldn’t easily access. The Guidance Out of Darkness Act rights this wrong by requiring federal agencies to centrally publish guidance in an easily accessible, online location. The American people deserve to know how laws and regulations govern their daily lives. The GOOD Act is a simple solution to shine a light on bureaucratic guidance to improve transparency and accountability,” said Comer.

“I am thankful for Ranking Member Comer’s leadership on the GOOD Act. This commonsense legislation has passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by voice vote twice and passed the House in 2018. I hope that Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer and President Biden will support this non-controversial transparency measure,” said Johnson.

“Dysfunction in Washington has led to a rapid expansion of the administrative state. The executive branch has moved toward unilaterally instituting de facto legislation, betraying the intended Constitutional order of the federal government. I’m proud to help introduce this legislation with the hopes that requiring federal agencies to publish and catalogue their regulatory guidance documents will help us better understand the costs of the regulatory state and its threat to both the rule-of-law and our economic growth,” said Cruz.

“Americans everywhere deserve transparency and accountability from their governing bodies. The Guidance Out of Darkness Act is a step in the right direction for our nation’s small businesses who are being burdened by the Democrats’ overreaching and ambiguous guidance. With a one-stop-shop website for federal guidance, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and innovators from coast to coast can more easily understand and comply with rules that apply to their businesses,” said Luetkemeyer.

“Few things erode trust in government more than expecting people to follow agency guidance they don’t even know exists. This bill takes a commonsense step in helping folks at least know what is expected of them,” said Hice.

“Unnecessary regulations serve to reduce productivity and result in increased costs that are passed on to consumers. To make it worse, America’s small businesses and workers are faced with the burden of digging through mountains of regulatory guidance to determine compliance requirements. The GOOD Act will ease some of that burden and bring greater transparency for those forced to comply with the complicated regulatory guidance issued by federal agencies,” said Good.

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon voiced support for the GOOD Act saying, “It’s no secret that the regulatory state has grown exponentially in recent decades. It’s also no surprise that the current Biden administration has sought to expand it further and to do so out of the public eye. We’re grateful for leaders in Congress who recognize that it is their duty to exercise oversight of the executive branch, and creating transparency around agencies’ so-called ‘guidance’ documents is critical to this end.”

Experts have often referred to guidance documents as regulatory dark matter, which unlike other regulatory actions are not required to go through the public notice-and-comment process. Earlier this month, Lankford reintroduced two bills, the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act (PATTA) and the Guidance Clarity Act, which will help increase transparency of the federal rulemaking process for all Oklahomans, particularly small businesses. Lankford serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management.